Daniil Trifonov plays the Chopin Etudes Op.25 and Mozart A Major concerto K. 488 from Moscow

If you are not already watching the Tchaikovsky Competition piano section streamed on 'Paraclassics' you really must do so.

Trifonov gave one of the greatest live performances of Op. 25 I have ever heard. So passionately committed to this music it was electrifying. I could trot out all the poetic cliches in the book but  what use would that be? Pathetic words signifying little. Really you must watch this although it may not be to everyone's taste - the involvement of this pianist in the extreme emotions and fiery virtuosity of Chopin's youth makes one almost uncomfortable and leaves one questioning one's own personal musical committment.

Here we have a young man possessed of a unique and ardent love, nay passionate joy in this music that only  illusioned youth is capable of, unfettered by mature experience and deep reflection. I have always believed that Chopin is played best by young pianists of the same age as Chopin himself when the work was composed and possessed of a similarly emotionally febrile sensibility.  Consider Pollini's superb playing of Chopin when he won the Chopin competition in 1960 and the cool classical poise and magnificent mature perfection of his performances today. Wonderful yes but it is not always appropriate to bring an almost classical emotional control and  cool marble polish to the Chopin Etudes.  Winners inevitably mature and innocence is lost.

The Op. 10 set of Etudes and many of the Op. 25 set were composed when the composer was in his early to mid twenties. This Chopin was a volcano of contained masculine passion and feminine lyicism revelling in his own revolutionary virtuosity,  not yet 'civilised' by the Parisian aristocracy nor seriously betrayed in love or as later, haunted by the shadow of a lingering death.  Trifonov defies normal criteria of judgement in his balance of the masculine and the feminine in Chopin.  The entire jury applauded this performance (something that never happened in Warsaw) and the audience 'went wild'. 

And this profound musicianship displayed in  the context of a competition. Quite breathtaking. The boy is only 20.  

The performance of both works covered here will by now be in the Archive. You will need to scroll along for the Chopin as the day begins with Trifonov playing a remarkabe piece by the Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin


Oh...it is 1.00am in Warsaw! Am I supposed to sleep after that?

Written in the small hours of July 25th :

And so after an elegant, stylish and limpid Mozart concerto (No. 23 in A Major K. 488) Trifonov effortlessly passes into Stage II Round III.   The Adagio brought me close to tears. This is one of the most poignant movements Mozart ever wrote for the piano. F sharp minor is my favourite key which always rends my heart with its tragic tonality. It is the only concerto movement he wrote in this dark key. The clouds of melancholy pass over in the Allegro assai and Trifonov here had a wonderful rapport with the very fine Russian State Chamber Orchestra under the former oboeist Aleksey Utkin. The pianist brought such a rush of welcome joy and refined elegance to this movement. No phrase was repeated in the same manner. Truly wonderful and the Russian audience love him so and were not shy in expressing their delight. The Jury awarded him the 'Best Chamber Concerto Performance' prize together with Yeol Eum Son.

We are witnessing with Trifonov a rare and most extraordinary flowering of musical talent in a short space of time. He is a transformed figure to the rather shy, somewhat insecure boy who took part in the International Chopin Competition last year and rushed a few things in his nervousness and so did not win. But now his victory at the Rubinstein Competition and now this....

Why is it that Trifonov moves one's soul when you consider the immaculate refinement, tone, touch, grace and musicianship of the wonderful Korean Yeol Eum Son in her performance of the Mozart Concerto in C K. 467. She made it a Meissen piece of absolute perfection but there were no lurking demons there to balance the elegance, no dark statues concealed in the garden.

With Trifonov I am for some odd reason reminded incontrovertibly of the young English poet John Keats and the 'principle of Beauty' that drove him in the all too brief magical period of his great creative flowering. This principle drives Trifonov too and we are witnessing something quite miraculous here.

I pray he retains it in a world presently in abject prostration before the golden calf.


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