Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 / Moderato
Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006 / Preludio
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Minor, Op. 40 / Allegro vivace
Daniil Trifonov :
Destination Rachmaninov - Departure
Daniil Trifonov explores the complete Rachmaninov piano concertos. His performances reveal their originality and wealth of invention - October 2018: "Destination Rachmaninov – Departure", featuring Nos. 2 & 4 - October 2019: "Destination Rachmaninov – Arrival", featuring Nos. 1 & 3
Recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra, known for its close historical connections with the composer and his music Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin - A tribute to Rachmaninov's pianism – and a voyage of discovery
"I've heard most [Rachmaninov] concerto recordings out there, and on the basis of what I heard Friday, these aren't going to sound like any of the others. In a good way. Maybe in a great way."
The Philadelphia Inquirer, review of Second Piano Concerto, April 2018.
"Few artists have burst onto the classical music scene in recent years with the incandescence of the pianist Daniil Trifonov." – The New York Times
"A Russian pianist of skills and star power, Daniil Trifonov is just 26 years old, but he dazzles audiences with technical prowess and poetic sensitivity." – The Wall Street Journal
"A pianist ahead of his time." – The Washington Post
"Everywhere Trifonov goes, the story is pretty much the same with audiences and critics - he's a sensation."
– Los Angeles Times
As a teenager, Daniil Trifonov absorbed lessons from the recordings of Sergei Rachmaninov, lessons that fed the creative process of his latest Deutsche Grammophon project, Destination Rachmaninov – Departure, the first of two albums comprising Trifonov's cycle of the great Russian composer's piano concertos. Destination Rachmaninov – Departure, set for release on October 12, 2018, features Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, along with Rachmaninov's solo piano transcriptions of three movements from Bach's Violin Partita in E major. Together with its upcoming October 2019 sequel Destination Rachmaninov – Arrival, which contains Concertos Nos. 1 and 3, Trifonov's new album documents a journey of artistic exploration made in company with the Philadelphia Orchestra and its music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who have a special, historical connection to Rachmaninov. Rachmaninov first performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and its then Music Director Leopold Stokowski in 1913 as a soloist in his own Third Piano Concerto and returned many times as pianist and conductor before his death thirty years later.
This is not the first time that Trifonov has collaborated with Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Three years ago, Trifonov recorded Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Orchestra for his first Deutsche Grammophon release. "I realized when we first worked together how much respect the Philadelphia players have for Rachmaninov's music and how much knowledge they have of his idiom," Trifonov recalls. "It was a terrific idea to record the four concertos with such a great orchestra and a real honor to share the journey with them." Since then, their relationship has grown even stronger. Nézet-Séguin has heaped praise on the young pianist, arguing that his insights stem from a rare combination of great power and lightness of touch. "That's why I think Daniil plays this music so well," he comments. "He covers both ends of the spectrum and this is a tribute to how Rachmaninov played his own music. It feels as if Daniil is composing this music as he's playing it. Every concert we gave of these concertos was different; there was always a new story from the first to the last note. This inspired the orchestra's musicians, who understood that this was about recreating the concertos every time we performed them with Daniil." Truly great musicians, adds the conductor, evolve over time and Trifonov is exceptional even among the best. "The first time I heard him, I thought, ‘This man is already saying more than most pianists of any era. Yet something tells me he'll have even more to say in five, ten, twenty years.'"
For all his formidable technical mastery and deep love of Rachmaninov's music, Trifonov resisted the temptation to learn the composer's scores before he felt ready to meet their challenges. He began adding Rachmaninov to his repertoire soon after his victory at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition, garnering rave reviews two years later with revelatory interpretations of the composer's Variations on a Theme of Chopin andVariations on a Theme of Corelli. Trifonov included both works in his first studio recording for Deutsche Grammophon as well as his own Rachmaniana miniatures written in tribute to Rachmaninov, crowning the project with the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Now, Trifonov is eager to tackle all four of Rachmaninov's piano concertos, beginning with Concertos Nos. 2 and 4.
Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto has always enjoyed enormous popularity, and Trifonov hopes to draw attention to the originality of the score, which is more Classical than Romantic. The work, he explains, was preceded by a three-year period during which its young composer wrote very little. That silence, a reaction to the vitriolic criticism that followed the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony in 1897, gave way to a great outburst of creativity during the summer of 1900. The Second Concerto was fully drafted by the end of August and received its first performance the following year with Rachmaninov as soloist. "It feels like all those years he was unable to write flowed into this work," notes Trifonov. "The structure is among the simplest of his concertos and the tonal direction is always extremely clear. That leads to one big dilemma. We perceive Rachmaninov as a Romantic composer, but with the simplicity found especially in this concerto it is difficult to manage rhythm and rubato. The second movement, for example, while very romantic is at the same time very serene. There is this idea of a steady pulsating rhythm, which is almost like sacred music. And in the finale, where there's a rare example of fugue in Rachmaninov's writing, rhythm is one of the driving impulses of the music."
For Trifonov, the Second Concerto's polyphonic writing reflects Rachmaninov's affinity for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, whose music Rachmaninov first performed as a twelve-year-old Moscow Conservatory student in 1885 to much acclaim. Trifonov highlights this connection on his new album by placing Rachmaninov's solo piano transcriptions of the Prelude, Gavotte and Gigue from Bach's Violin Partita in E major between the two piano concertos. "He adds his own spices to the music," observes the pianist. "The Gavotte, for instance, includes his signature harmonic progressions and he also adds allusions to Russian-style melodies to his transcription."
The Fourth Piano Concerto, which Rachmaninov premiered in Philadelphia in 1927, has often been overshadowed by its predecessors, but it is brilliant nonetheless. Trifonov observes that the work, with its colourful harmonies and angular melodies, is both unusual for Rachmaninov and strikingly forward-looking. "It's probably my personal favorite of the concertos," he confesses. "If we sometimes think that Rachmaninov was frozen in time as the world changed around him, the Fourth Concerto strongly contradicts that opinion. There are so many modernist touches to it, in terms of orchestration and jazzy chords in the piano part. The opening feels to me like a train journey. It starts with this impetuous rhythmic momentum, which shows how he approached music as emotion, as an art that exists in time and also in space."
Destination Rachmaninov – Departureoffers a fresh look at these two concertos which are all too easily stamped with the labels of received opinion, and its 2019 sequel Destination Rachmaninov – Arrivals, containing the remaining two concertos, will conclude Daniil Trifonov's voyage of discovery. However, this voyage never truly ends. As Trifonov points out, "Rachmaninov never stopped searching for new ideas, so his concertos brought new ideas to the genre of which he was such a master. There isn't really an end to the journey. It's more about constant exploration."