Grammy Award-winning Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov (dan-EEL TREE-fon-ov)—winner of Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year award—has made a spectacular ascent of the classical music world as a solo artist, champion of the concerto repertoire, chamber and vocal collaborator, and composer. Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe.
“He has everything and more…tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,”
—pianist Martha Argerich.
Trifonov recently added a first Grammy Award to his already considerable string of honors, winning Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018 with Transcendental, a Liszt collection that marked his third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist. As The Times of London notes, he is:
“without question the most astounding pianist of our age.”
This fall brings the release of Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival. Featuring the composer’s First and Third Concertos, this is the third volume of the Deutsche Grammophon series Trifonov recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, following Destination Rachmaninov: Departure, named BBC Music’s 2019 Concerto Recording of the Year, and Rachmaninov: Variations, a 2015 Grammy nominee. Later this fall, Trifonov inaugurates his multi-faceted, season-long tenure as 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic with accounts of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto under Jaap van Zweden. The residency also sees him take part in the New York premiere of his own Piano Quintet, and rejoin the music director and orchestra for Mozart’s 25th Piano Concerto, first in New York and then on a European tour that includes a stop at London’s Barbican. The Scriabin concerto is the vehicle for the pianist’s return to the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, with whom he reunites for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and for Rachmaninov’s Fourth with the San Francisco Symphony, both at the orchestra’s home and on tour in Europe. Other upcoming orchestral highlights include Alexander Mosolov’s First Piano Concerto with the Nashville Symphony and Beethoven’s First and Fifth Piano Concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Nézet-Séguin, as heard on the pianist’s DG Rachmaninov series. In recital this season, Mr. Trifonov tours a solo program of Bach transcriptions and The Art of Fugue to New York’s Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series, and destinations in Europe, besides partnering his mentor and fellow pianist Sergei Babayan at Carnegie Hall, Cornell University, Eastman School of Music, and in Dortmund, Germany.
Mr. Trifonov launched the New York Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season with back-to-back performances, playing Ravel’s G-major Concerto at the opening-night gala and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto the following night. He revisited the Ravel on tour with the London Symphony and Sir Simon Rattle, and during a residency at Vienna’s Musikverein, where he appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and gave the Austrian premiere of his own Piano Concerto. The “Emperor” also took him to the London Symphony, National Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, with which he toured Asia. Other orchestral highlights included performances of Scriabin’s concerto during a season-long residency with the Berlin Philharmonic, Prokofiev’s Third with the Chicago Symphony, Rachmaninov’s Third with the Boston Symphony, and Schumann’s concerto with longtime collaborator Valery Gergiev and the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Trifonov gave solo recitals of Beethoven, Schumann, and Prokofiev on Carnegie’s mainstage and in Berlin, where his Berlin Philharmonic residency featured multiple solo and chamber performances. These included accounts of his own Piano Quintet, of which he also gave the Cincinnati premiere with the Ariel Quartet, and a duo recital with German baritone Matthias Goerne, with whom he also appeared at New York’s 92nd Street Y.
Other highlights of recent seasons include a seven-concert, season-long Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series, crowned by a performance of Mr. Trifonov’s own piano concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra; curating similar series at the Vienna Konzerthaus and in San Francisco, where the pianist gave a season-closing performance with the San Francisco Symphony; playing Tchaikovsky’s First under Riccardo Muti in the historic gala finale of the Chicago Symphony’s 125th anniversary celebrations; headlining complete Rachmaninoff concerto cycles at the New York Philharmonic’s Rachmaninoff Festival, with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, and on tour with the Munich Philharmonic; undertaking Asian tours with the Czech Philharmonic and Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and European tours with the London Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and La Scala Orchestra; and making debuts at London’s BBC Proms and with the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Berlin Staatskapelle, and the Berlin Philharmonic, where he headlined the orchestra’s famous New Year’s Eve concert under Sir Simon Rattle. Since making solo recital debuts at Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and Paris’s Salle Pleyel in 2012-13, Mr. Trifonov has given solo recitals at venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Boston’s Celebrity Series, London’s Barbican and Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth halls, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (Master Piano Series), Berlin’s Philharmonie, Munich’s Herkulessaal, Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Lucerne Piano Festival, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Théâtre des Champs Élysées and Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica, Tokyo’s Opera City, the Seoul Arts Center, and Melbourne’s Recital Centre.
The 2013-14 season saw the release of Trifonov: The Carnegie Recital, the pianist’s first recording as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist; captured live at his sold-out 2013 Carnegie Hall recital debut, the album scored a Grammy nomination. Besides the Grammy Award-winning Transcendental, Destination Rachmaninov: Departure, and the Grammy-nominated Rachmaninov Variations, Deutsche Grammophon has also issued Chopin Evocations, which pairs the composer’s works with those by the 20th-century composers he influenced. Mr. Trifonov’s discography also features a Chopin album for Decca and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra on the ensemble’s own label.
It was during the 2010-11 season that Mr. Trifonov won medals at three of the music world’s most prestigious competitions, taking Third Prize in Warsaw’s Chopin Competition, First Prize in Tel Aviv’s Rubinstein Competition, and both First Prize and Grand Prix—an additional honor bestowed on the best overall competitor in any category—in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Franco Abbiati Prize for Best Instrumental Soloist by Italy’s foremost music critics, and in 2016 he was named Gramophone’s Artist of the Year.
Born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1991, Mr. Trifonov began his musical training at the age of five and went on to attend Moscow’s Gnessin School of Music as a student of Tatiana Zelikman, before pursuing his piano studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also studied composition and continues to write for piano, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. When he premiered his own Piano Concerto in 2013, the Cleveland Plain Dealer marveled:
“Even having seen it, one cannot quite believe it. Such is the artistry of pianist-composer Daniil Trifonov.”