Daniil Trifonov: Rachmaninov Variations


The “visceral, ethereal quality of his playing” has likened him to Liszt, but it is the music of Rachmaninov which piano wunderkind Daniil Trifonov has been recording for release in Australia next month (September 11, 2015).

Described by the Washington Post as “a pianist ahead of his time”, Trifonov says of Rachmaninov, “he is one of my musical idols….The writing of Rachmaninoff is so very different from other concerti….in his usage of the dialogue between piano and orchestra, but also in terms of the structure.”

On his first studio recording, Rachmaninov Variations, made for Deutsches Grammophon, the 24-year-old Russian artist unlocks the romantic emotions, energy and virtuosity of the fiendishly difficult Variations on a Theme of Chopin and Variations on a Theme of Corelli, both ideal showpieces for this young pianist’s talents.As a perfect interlude between these two classics of the solo piano repertoire comes the world premiere recording of Trifonov’s own Rachmaniana, created as a heartfelt tribute to the legendary pianist-composer.

As well, the album features the poignant Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, by Rachmaninov, recorded with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The connections with Rachmaninov are particularly visceral here, as this was his favourite North American ensemble and gave the Rhapsody’s premiere in 1934, with the composer himself at the piano. As Trifonov observes, “Rachmaninov’s music is part of the DNA of the orchestra; that is why playing his music comes so effortlessly.”

Daniil Trifonov began to play the piano at the age of five and to compose soon after. He’s always felt a close cultural identification with Rachmaninov, saying “I relate to his Russian character, as well as his love for the language of musical Romanticism.”

Trifonov composed the five-movement Rachmaniana as “a kind of homage to the composer”, a work for solo piano rich in virtuosity, lyricism and what he describes as “nostalgic yearnings” – and that sense of personal affinity with Rachmaninov, enhanced by his experience of performing with the Philadelphia forces. 

 Daniil Trifonov returns to Philadelphia this October to perform Rachmaninov’s Fourth Piano Concerto before joining the Philharmonia Orchestra in the UK and Iceland for performances of the composer’s Second Piano Concerto. His 2015/16 season with Rachmaninov continues in November in Japan with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and with performances of the Second, Third and Fourth Piano Concertos in New York with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The tracks:


Variations on a Theme of Chopin, Op. 22/Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42/Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 



The performers: Daniil Trifonov, piano/ The Philadelphia Orchestra/ Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

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