Grammy Award-winning Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov (dan-EEL TREE-fon-ov) – Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year – has made a spectacular ascent of the classical music world, as a solo artist, champion of the concerto repertoire, chamber and vocal collaborator, and composer. 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,” marveled pianist Martha Argerich. With Transcendental, the Liszt collection that marked his third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Trifonov won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018. As The Times of London notes, he is “without question the most astounding pianist of our age.”
In the 2020-21 season, Trifonov plays eleven concertos by composers ranging from Bach to Schnittke. Beethoven’s music is especially prominent in his programming this season; besides embarking on a high-profile European tour of the composer’s Triple Concerto with Andris Nelsons leading the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Trifonov performs Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with Gianandrea Noseda and the National Symphony, his Third with Vasily Petrenko and the Berlin Philharmonic, and both the First and Third with the Taiwan National Symphony and Wen-Pin Chien, with whom Trifonov also plays Brahms’s First Piano Concerto. Brahms’s concerto is also the vehicle for his upcoming dates with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under Zubin Mehta. Further collaborations find Trifonov offering music by several of his Russian compatriots, playing Prokofiev’s First with the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Gustavo Gimeno, and pairing it with Schnittke’s Concerto for returns to the Berlin Philharmonic and Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra under Alan Gilbert. Prokofiev’s Second Concerto takes Trifonov to the Chicago Symphony under Riccardo Muti and Poland’s NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic under Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Shostakovich’s First to Prague and Vienna with the Czech Philharmonic under Semyon Byshkov, and Stravinsky’s Concerto to Vienna, Moscow and St. Petersburg with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. In recital, the pianist tours his acclaimed “Decades” program to Lugano, Berlin and the Salzburg Festival, and he gives all-Bach recitals in Taipei, Boston, Palm Beach and Aspen. He plays Szymanowski, Weber and Brahms in France and Spain, as well as appearing in Warsaw and embarking on a spring tour of China. To round out the season, he gives duo recitals with cellist Gautier Capuçon in London, Vienna and other destinations in Europe.
Last season, Trifonov performed Scriabin’s Piano Concerto under Jaap van Zweden, inaugurating a multi-faceted, season-long tenure as 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic that also saw him take part in the New York premiere of his own Piano Quintet. He reprised the Scriabin concerto for his return to the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, with whom he reunited for Tchaikovsky with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Other orchestral highlights included Beethoven’s First and Fifth Piano Concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, as heard on the pianist’s DG Rachmaninov series. In recital last season, Trifonov toured a solo program of Bach transcriptions and The Art of Fugue to New York’s Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and California’s Soka Performing Arts Center, and partnered with his mentor and fellow pianist Sergei Babayan at Carnegie Hall, Cornell University, Eastman School of Music and in Dortmund, Germany.
Other highlights of recent seasons include a seven-concert, season-long Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series, crowned by a performance of Trifonov’s own piano concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra; curating similar series at the Vienna Konzerthaus and in San Francisco; playing Tchaikovsky’s First under Muti in the historic gala finale of the Chicago Symphony’s 125th-anniversary celebrations; launching the New York Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season; headlining complete Rachmaninoff concerto cycles at the New York Philharmonic’s Rachmaninoff Festival and with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic; undertaking season-long residencies with the Berlin Philharmonic and at Vienna’s Musikverein, where he appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and gave the Austrian premiere of his own Piano Concerto; and headlining the Berlin Philharmonic’s famous New Year’s Eve concert under Sir Simon Rattle. Trifonov has also given Asian tours with the Cleveland Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic and Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and European tours with the London Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and La Scala Orchestra. Since making solo recital debuts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and Paris’s Salle Pleyel in 2012-13, Trifonov has given solo recitals at venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington DC; Boston’s Celebrity Series; London’s Barbican, Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth Halls; Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Master Piano Series); Berlin’s Philharmonie; 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; the Seoul Arts Center; and Melbourne’s Recital Centre.
Fall 2019 brought the release of Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival. Presenting the composer’s First and Third Concertos, this was the third volume of the Deutsche Grammophon series Trifonov recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Nézet-Séguin, following Destination Rachmaninov: Departure, named BBC Music’s 2019 Concerto Recording of the Year, and Rachmaninov: Variations, a 2015 Grammy nominee. Deutsche Grammophon has also issued Chopin Evocations, which pairs the composer’s works with those by the 20th-century composers he influenced, and Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, the pianist’s first recording as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist; capturing Trifonov’s sold-out 2013 Carnegie Hall recital debut live, the album scored him his first Grammy nomination. Trifonov’s 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 awarded the prestigious Franco Abbiati Prize for Best Instrumental Soloist by Italy’s foremost music critics, and in 2016 he was named Gramophone’s Artist of the Year.
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, the Cleveland Plain Dealer marveled: “Even having seen it, one cannot quite believe it. Such is the artistry of pianist-composer Daniil Trifonov.”