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Daniil Trifonov plays Celebrity Series / Boston Classical Review

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The lasting impression one takes away from a piano recital by Daniil Trifonov is of a young man looking perfectly serene, even lost in thought, as he executes the most stupefyingly difficult passages on his instrument. The Russian pianist, who turned 24 last week, appeared to be in the zone Friday night at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall as he mused and surged his way through all twelve of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, in their final (and simplified, if you can believe it) version of 1851.

He warmed up for this feat with a first half consisting of the Bach-Liszt Fantasy and Fugue in G minor and Beethoven's last piano sonata, Op. 111 in C minor.  Clearly, this young man meant business. The recital, presented by Celebrity Series of Boston, began a little stiffly, as Bach's wildly chromatic fantasy never quite caught fire.  Originally for organ, this music sounded brittle rather than sonorous on the American-made Steinway piano with which Trifonov began the program. (By prior arrangement, a German Steinway was brought in at intermission, because the artist preferred it for the Liszt.)

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