Daniil Trifonov was in New York for a feast of Rachmaninov (or Rachmaninoff if you prefer).
On Wednesday evening, the sensational Mr. Trifonov, 24, drew roars of approval as he began a fall residency in New York. He is the star attraction of the Philharmonic’s Rachmaninoff festival, and one of the few possible excuses for three solid weeks of that composer’s all-too-evergreen music. Last season, this slightly built Russian pianist-composer played that great Russian pianist-composer’s First Concerto with the Philharmonic. Now he is appearing in the other three, as well as the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
Having met and watched Trifonov perform two years ago, this level of audience adoration is not surprising. He is a dynamic performer whose physicality on the piano is captivating (profusely sweating on the keys is my recollection…no wonder he is “slightly built”!).
For all his precocious expertise, though, Rachmaninoff is new to Mr. Trifonov. “When I was studying in Moscow,” he recalled, “the majority of works on which my teacher wanted to concentrate were Classical: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schumann. In Russian music, it was Scriabin, Tchaikovsky, Medtner, but not Rachmaninoff.”