Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov (dan-EEL TREE-fon-ov) has made a spectacular ascent in the world of classical music since winning First Prize at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011 at the age of 20. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe. “He has everything and more … tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” stated pianist Martha Argerich, while the Financial Times observes, “What makes him such a phenomenon is the ecstatic quality he brings to his performances. … Small wonder every western capital is in thrall to him.”
The 2016-17 season brings the release of Transcendental, a double album that not only represents Trifonov’s third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, but also the first time that Liszt’s complete concert etudes have been recorded for the label in full. In concert, the pianist – winner of Gramophone’s 2016 Artist of the Year award – plays Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto under Riccardo Muti in the historic gala finale of the Chicago Symphony’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Having scored his second Grammy Award nomination with Rachmaninoff Variations, he performs Rachmaninoff for his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle at the orchestra’s famous New Year’s Eve concerts, scheduled to air live in cinemas throughout Europe. Also with Rachmaninoff, he makes debuts with the Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies, returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and headlines the Munich Philharmonic’s “Rachmaninoff Cycle” tour with longtime collaborator Valery Gergiev. Mozart is the vehicle for his reengagements with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as for dates with the Staatskapelle Dresden at home and at the Salzburg Festival and London’s BBC Proms. He rejoins the Staatskapelle for Ravel, besides playing Beethoven with Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra; Prokofiev with the Rotterdam Philharmonic; Chopin on tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev; and Schumann with the Houston Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and on tour with Riccardo Chailly and La Scala Orchestra.
An ascending composer, Trifonov also reprises his own acclaimed concerto in Kansas City. With a new program of Schumann, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky, he makes recital debuts at London’s Barbican and Melbourne’s Recital Centre; appears in Berlin, Vienna, Florence, Madrid, Oslo, Moscow, and other European hotspots; and returns to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and – for the fourth consecutive year – the mainstage of New York’s Carnegie Hall. He also gives duo recitals with his former teacher, pianist Sergei Babayan, in Princeton and Sarasota, and looks forward to returning to the Tanglewood, Verbier, Baden-Baden, and Salzburg Festivals.
Rachmaninoff was the focus of Trifonov’s 2015-16 season, when he played complete concerto cycles at the New York Philharmonic’s Rachmaninoff Festival and with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, besides showcasing the composer’s concertos in debuts with the Berlin Staatskapelle and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he headlined the prestigious Nobel Prize Concert; in his subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra; on an Asian tour with the Czech Philharmonic; and with the Munich Philharmonic. Prokofiev was the vehicle for his debut with the Montreal Symphony, on its North American tour, and for dates with the Orchestre National de France and the London Symphony Orchestra under Alan Gilbert. He also performed Chopin with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas and Tchaikovsky with the La Scala Orchestra. Trifonov made his Los Angeles recital debut and embarked on an extensive European recital tour with stops in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam. He undertook residencies in Lugano, Switzerland, and at London’s Wigmore Hall, where he collaborated with Sergei Babayan and violinist Gidon Kremer, whom he rejoined for concertos at the Cologne Philharmonic.
In the 2012-13 season, Trifonov made debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, London’s Royal Philharmonic, and at London’s BBC Proms. The following season, he collaborated with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphonies of Washington, San Francisco, and London. Since making solo recital debuts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and the Salle Pleyel in Paris in 2012-13, he has given solo recitals at venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Boston’s Celebrity Series, London’s Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth halls, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Master Piano Series), Berlin’s Philharmonie (the Kammermusiksaal), Munich’s Herkulessaal, Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Lucerne Piano Festival, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Théâtre des Champs Élysées and Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica, Tokyo’s Opera City, and the Seoul Arts Center.
The 2013-14 season saw the release of Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, the pianist’s first recording as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist; captured live at his sold-out 2013 Carnegie Hall recital debut, the album scored both an ECHO Klassik Award and a Grammy nomination. Besides the similarly Grammy-nominated Rachmaninoff Variations, recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, his discography also features a Chopin album for Decca and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra on the ensemble’s own label.
It was during the 2010-11 season that Trifonov won medals at three of the music world’s most prestigious competitions, taking Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix – an additional honor bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category – in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. In 2013 he was also awarded the prestigious Franco Abbiati Prize for Best Instrumental Soloist by Italy’s foremost music critics.
Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1991, Trifonov began his musical training at the age of five, and went on to attend Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music as a student of Tatiana Zelikman, before pursuing his piano studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also studied composition, and continues to write for piano, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. When he premiered his own piano concerto in 2013, the Cleveland Plain Dealer marveled: “Even having seen it, one cannot quite believe it. Such is the artistry of pianist-composer Daniil Trifonov.”