Stories » Rachmaninov: Variations - Trifonov's joyous, exceptional collection / theguardian

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Rachmaninov: Variations - Trifonov's joyous, exceptional collection / theguardian

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After hearing a bit too much dutiful Rachmaninov playing at the Leeds international piano competition last weekend, Daniil Trifonov's disc provided the best possible antidote. Here is an outstanding pianist who plays Rachmaninov because he is fascinated by the music and can bring genuine imagination and musical wit to it. Trifonov signals his deep admiration by including a piece of his own: the five miniatures that make up his glittering Rachmaniana are an homage to the pianistic tradition that reached its late-Romantic zenith in Rachmaninov and a celebration of the Russianness of that music.

The authentic works are the Paganini Rhapsody, in which the large-than-life sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin provide the perfect foil to Trifonov's thoughtful and sometimes surprisingly introspective playing, and the two sets of solo variations, on themes by Chopin, Op 22, and Corelli, Op 42. Both receive dazzling performances, showing why Trifonov, when at his best like this, is peerless among younger pianists today. There's emotional weight and structural integrity about the Chopin set, and all the panache and bravura anyone could want in the Corelli. It's a joyous, exceptional collection.

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