Spectacular Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov – winner of the 2016 Gramophone Artist of the Year Award and “without question the most astounding young pianist of our age” (The Times of London) – releases a new double album on DG October 7, comprising the complete concert etudes of Franz Liszt, titled Transcendental. Trifonov’s action-packed season is already well underway. In mid-October he plays Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto in the gala finale of the Chicago Symphony’s 125th anniversary celebration. He plays four Mozart concertos this season, the first of which (Concerto No. 21) he performed at the BBC Proms in early September with the Staatskapelle Dresden. He will reprise it with that orchestra later in the season at the Salzburg Easter Festival. The same composer is featured in Trifonov’s reengagements with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra. He launches a Schumann, Shostakovich and Stravinsky recital program in October with performances in Germany and Austria that include a debut in the Berliner Philharmoniker Piano Series, revisiting the program throughout the season at destinations across Europe, Australia, and the U.S. He performs Rachmaninov concertos for debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies; as well as return engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Mariinsky Orchestra. He also headlines the Munich Philharmonic’s “Rachmaninov Cycle” tour. In the midst of these engagements, he finds time to play the Schumann concerto with the Houston Symphony and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic; Ravel’s concerto with the Staatskapelle Dresden at home and on tour; both Chopin concertos on tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; and his own concerto with the Kansas City Symphony.
The release of Transcendental marks Trifonov’s third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, and the first time that the label has ever recorded Liszt’s complete concert etudes. Both of the pianist’s previous albums were nominated for Grammy Awards, and his inaugural release, Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, won an ECHO Klassik Award. That album too featured music of Liszt: the famously ahead-of-its-time Sonata in B minor. As the Washington Post declared, under the headline “At Kennedy Center, Daniil Trifonov proves himself an heir to Liszt,” after a performance of that piece in 2013:
“Hearing Trifonov is like having a deep-tissue massage: You keep wanting to pull away from the sheer intensity of it, and you come out feeling as if your reality had been slightly altered. His recital Saturday afternoon at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater…was a knockout.”
Likewise, when Trifonov played Liszt’s First Piano Concerto last season with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette marveled that the pianist had “outsize power and agility while still maintaining the clarity and, when necessary, delicacy of his phrases. … His technique is as distinctive as it is peerless, and he has the interpretive and sonic chops to match.”
Trifonov’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto with the Chicago Symphony will be led by Riccardo Muti, and is a re-creation of the very first concert of the orchestra’s history, performed on October 16 and 17, 1891. Trifonov played the same piece in a season-opening concert last year, with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic at La Scala, but this fall that place of honor went to Mozart instead, when the pianist opened his season at the BBC Proms playing Mozart’s Concerto No. 21with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Christian Thielemann. He reprises the piece with the same forces later in the season during their yearly residency at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Trifonov also plays three other Mozart concertos this season: Jurowski leads him as soloist with the New York Philharmonic in Concerto No. 25; he performs Concerto No. 23 with the Cleveland Orchestra under Jaap van Zweden; and he plays Concerto No. 9 in three concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
The Financial Times has recognized the “ecstatic quality” of Trifonov’s solo recitals, and this year he tours around the world with a solo program that includes music of Schumann, Shostakovich and Stravinsky. Following fall performances in Germany and Austria, he reprises the program in Carnegie Hall in December, before playing it in the new year in Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, London, Oslo, Cologne, Dortmund and Dresden. He goes to Australia for performances in both Sydney and Melbourne in March, before returning to the States for recitals in venues that include Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Chicago Symphony Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, and a debut in the Shriver Hall Concert Series in Baltimore. His final recital of the season is in Moscow on June 2. The program features three works by Schumann: the tender Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood); the dazzlingly virtuosic Op. 7 Toccata; and the dramatic tour-de-force Kreisleriana, named after an eccentric conductor character invented by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The rest of the program moves to the twentieth century, first with selections from Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues, a set inspired by Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier and Chopin’s Preludes. Stravinsky’s piano setting Three Movements from Pétrouchka, composed for, and dedicated to, his friend Arthur Rubinstein, closes the program.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, besides hosting him for a Mozart concerto this season, were also Trifonov’s partners on his Rachmaninov Variations CD, for which he received his second Grammy nomination. Soon after that release he headlined the New York Philharmonic’s sold-out 2015 Rachmaninov festival, in which the New York Times found him “dazzling … a brilliant, uncommonly poetic soloist.” The Russian composer looms large again in Trifonov’s upcoming season. Rachmaninov’s notoriously challenging Concerto No. 3 is the vehicle for his Berlin Philharmonic debut, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, and Trifonov plays the same piece for a return to Disney Hall with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He performs Concerto No. 1 for debuts with both the Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies, and Concerto No. 4 with Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. In the late spring he plays a complete cycle of Rachmaninov concertos in Munich, first performing the “Paganini Variations” and all the concertos except No. 2 with the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by longtime collaborator Valery Gergiev. Swapping out orchestras but not conductors, he and Gergiev then perform Concerto No. 2 with the Munich Philharmonic in Munich and Luxembourg, and Concerto No. 3 in Cologne, Frankfurt and Paris.