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Daniil Trifonov channels Rachmaninoff / Washington Post

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Rachmaninoff's two variation sets, on themes by Corelli and Chopin, are not his most inspired creations. But because there is relatively little Rachmaninoff to choose from, pianists keep pulling them out, hoping to deliver performances so personal and pianistically refined that they will sound, well, like good Rachmaninoff. They rarely succeed.

The Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov and his producers at Deutsche Grammophon had the curious idea of juxtaposing both these works and the "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," with the Philadelphia Orchestra under its exciting young conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Trifonov as soloist. The Paganini rhapsody, originally conceived as a ballet, is not a rhapsody in any Lisztian sense, but another set of variations, this time on the ubiquitous tune of Paganini's 24th solo violin caprice.

This new recording suggests that the Philadelphians' unique connection with Rachmaninoff is alive and well under Nezét ­Séguin's dynamic baton. They are the perfect collaborators for Trifonov's crystalline, sensitive piano playing. But despite the flawless execution, some dimension seems missing.  READ THE FULL Washington Post REVIEW