Daniil Trifonov © Dario Acosta (Ausschnitt)
Daniil Trifonov began playing the piano at the age of just five. In order to enable him to study at Moscow's Gnessin Academy, his parents sold everything they had in Nizhny Novgorod and moved to a suburb of Moscow. The highly gifted young pianist used the twice-daily two-hour commute for silent finger practice. Since 2011, the introverted looking Trifonov has emerged as one of the most exciting young pianists today.
Music competitions are tricky things. How can artistic achievements be adequately judged in conditions that a more akin to a sporting contest? But in the case of Daniil Trifonov, international juries displayed a rare unanimity. Admittedly, at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2010, the then 19-year-old Russian «only” won the Third Prize, as well as a medal for the best interpretation of Chopin's mazurkas. But other competitions followed in quick succession: in May 2011, he won First Prize at the Rubinstein Competition in Israel, and the First Prize in the piano category in the Tchaikovsky Competition just a month later in Moscow, as well as the Grand Prix for the entire competition – a musical hat-trick that immediately catapulted him as a new star on the piano firmament. «He has it all and more », enthused Martha Argerich following his triumph in Moscow. «What he does with his hands is technically incredible. It's also his attack – he is both soft and has a demonic element. I've never heard anything like it». The fact that his admirers also include Alfred Brendel, who is less a lion of the keyboard than an intellectual, shows Trifonov's musical abilities in an even broader light.
He doesn't only appear to be able to withstand the pressures of an exploding international career, but also seems to be growing constantly in the ears of the public. «Trifonov creates a furor,» wrote Alex Ross, critics of the «New Yorker», and adds him to a list that includes Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Martha Argerich or Evgeny Kissin. «Furor pianists exhibit intelligence as well as dexterity ... They give a hint of the unearthly, the diabolical.... What sets Trifonov apart is a pair of attributes that are seldom found in one pianist: monstrous technique and lustrous tone. The characteristic Trifonov effect is a rapid, glistening flurry of notes that hardly seems to involve the mechanical action of hammers and strings.»
For the Wiener Konzerthaus's portrait series, this fascinating artist, who says his personal life is rather on the quiet side, will give five concerts. «I like romantic music. I'm probably a bit of a romantic myself,» he says. This is reflected in one recital, as well as a song recital which he will give with Matthias Goerne, plus orchestral concerts in which he will perform two of the most important piano concertos: Schumann's and Prokoviev's Third.