Fall brings two major milestones for Grammy-winning pianist Daniil Trifonov, Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year: the release of Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival, the third volume of his Deutsche Grammophon series with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the inauguration of a season-long tenure as 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic, with live performances of Scriabin’s Piano Concerto led by Jaap van Zweden. The residency also sees Trifonov take part in the New York premiere of his own Piano Quintet, before rejoining Van Zweden and the orchestra for Mozart’s 25th Piano Concerto, both in New York and on tour in Europe. The pianist’s other upcoming orchestral highlights include returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Houston Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Nashville Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony, with which he once again embarks on a European tour. He rejoins the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for double concertos in Germany with his mentor, fellow pianist Sergei Babayan, whom he also partners on a U.S. duo recital tour crowned by a return to New York’s Carnegie Hall. And in solo recital, Trifonov performs not only a program of Beethoven, Prokofiev and Scriabin at venues in Canada and Europe that include London’s Royal Festival Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Paris’s Philharmonie and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, but also a pairing of Bach transcriptions with The Art of Fugue at New York’s Lincoln Center, Washington’s Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series and other high-profile destinations on both sides of the Atlantic.
With Philadelphia Orchestra: Rachmaninov on DG and Beethoven in concert
Eighty years ago, Rachmaninov himself created benchmark recordings of his First and Third Piano Concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra. This fall, on Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival, Trifonov offers his own interpretations of the same two concertos with the same great ensemble, now under the leadership of its present Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Due for release on October 11, the new album represents the most recent installment in the same forces’ Deutsche Grammophon recording series, which has already yielded Rachmaninov: Variations, a 2015 Grammy nominee, and Destination Rachmaninov: Departure, named BBC Music’s 2019 Concerto Recording of the Year. As Gramophone magazine has concluded: “Trifonov and Nézet-Séguin do seem genuinely to be a meeting of musical minds.”
Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto is an early work, completed in pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia; Trifonov reflects that “it connected him with memories of home, his roots – of happier times.” Of the composer’s Third Piano Concerto, one of the most difficult and demanding in the repertoire, Trifonov explains: “[It] is a unique example of one unending melody, one continuous flow of musical consciousness – a single, rhapsodic journey. Above all, there is nothing banal in the expression. Even in its heights of lyricism or virtuosity, every note is devoted to a higher purpose. … It is like a prayer – the composer’s inner conversation with himself, and with God.”
The pianist rounds out the new release with his own solo transcription of Rachmaninov’s “The Silver Sleigh Bells” and his own arrangement of the composer’s beloved meditation, Vocalise.
No less masterful in Classical repertoire, early next year Trifonov reunites with Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra for live accounts of two Beethoven Piano Concertos: the First (Jan 30 & 31) and the mighty “Emperor” (Feb 1 & 2). This last was also the vehicle for some of the pianist’s most recent collaborations with the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, prompting the Washington Post to marvel: “[Trifonov] has reached a new level of maturity. That may be a facile judgment to pass on someone whose performances have aroused so much passion in the hearts of piano lovers for years, and who has had such a recognizable style since his first appearance in the D.C. area eight years ago: a fluid, gentle, romantic touch, and the gleeful and almost wanton accretion of rapid notes that evoke something greedy in their abundance and delight. But on Thursday, he seemed to have shifted into an even higher gear, communicating ease, delight and dreamy intoxication without ever loosening his hold or making a false step. … Trifonov kept finding ways to make this music seem like something entirely new.”
As 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of New York Philharmonic: Scriabin, Mozart and more
When Trifonov headlined the New York Philharmonic’s “Rachmaninoff: A Philharmonic Festival” in 2015, the New York Times exclaimed: “Few artists have burst onto the classical music scene in recent years with the incandescence of the pianist Daniil Trifonov.” Since then, he has undertaken four major artistic residencies: at Carnegie Hall, with a 2017-18 “Perspectives” series, and with the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, and at Vienna’s Musikverein last season. Now, after launching both the New York Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season and Jaap van Zweden’s music directorship with back-to-back concertos this time last year, the Russian pianist embarks on a similarly prominent position as the orchestra’s 2019-20 Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. This multi-faceted, season-long post again showcases his mastery of both Russian Romantic and Classical concerto literature, when he joins Van Zweden and the orchestra for performances of Scriabin’s rhapsodic Piano Concerto in New York (Nov 27–Dec 3) and of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 at New York’s David Geffen Hall (April 15–21), London’s Royal Festival Hall (April 30), and the Philharmonies of Cologne (May 2), Luxembourg (May 4), Berlin (May 11) and Dresden (May 12).
Hailed as “a virtuoso composer, too” (New York Times), Trifonov collaborates with the New York Philharmonic String Quartet – an all-star ensemble comprising concertmaster Frank Huang, principal associate concertmaster Sheryl Staples, principal viola Cynthia Phelps and principal cello Carter Brey – on the New York premiere of his own Quintetto Concertante at New York’s 92nd Street Y (Dec 1). Rachmaninov with San Francisco Symphony and other Russian concerto collaborations
As well as on his upcoming album release, Trifonov features the music of Rachmaninov prominently in his live programming this season. Besides reprising the Third Piano Concerto with the Vancouver Symphony and Otto Tausk (Sep 27 & 28), he plays the Fourth, first in a season-opening concert with the Seattle Symphony that inaugurates the tenure of incoming music director Thomas Dausgaard (Sep 14) and then with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the San Francisco Symphony at the orchestra’s home (Sep 17–22) and on tour at London’s Royal Festival Hall (March 22), Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie (March 25), Berlin’s Philharmonie (March 26) and the Vienna Konzerthaus (March 28).
The Russian pianist interprets concertos by three more of his compatriots this season. Before the New York concerts, he previews his account of the Scriabin with Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony in Miami (Oct 12–13). He performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto with the Houston Symphony and Krzysztof Urbański (Nov 22–24); reunites with Tilson Thomas to reprise the same work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Dec 12–15); and plays the First Piano Concerto by early Soviet composer Alexander Mosolov with Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Philharmonic (May 29 & 30). Contrasting solo programs in North America and Europe Trifonov is as widely celebrated on the recital stage as in the concert hall. “A feat of musical, mental and physical stamina,” the most recent of his annual Carnegie Hall recitals was pronounced “a triumph” by the New York Times. Likewise, at London’s Barbican Hall this past summer, he scored a five-star review in The Guardian with “revelatory performances” of “substantial works by Beethoven, Schumann and Prokofiev” that “provided further confirmation that the 28-year-old Russian is one of the finest pianists today,” while “still revealing new aspects of his artistry.” It is with the same program that Trifonov returns to the Oslo Opera House this fall (Oct 27), and a related one – now pairing Beethoven’s Op. 110 and Prokofiev’s Eighth Piano Sonata with the Ninth Piano Sonata and 8 Etudes of Scriabin – that takes him to key venues in Paris (Oct 29), London (Oct 31), Amsterdam (Nov 3), Brussels (Nov 5), Leipzig (Nov 7), Cologne (Nov 10), Toronto (Feb 21) and Montreal (Feb 23).
Ever versatile and inventive, the pianist also undertakes a very different program for his next North American solo recital tour. At his upcoming dates in Santa Barbara (Feb 7), Aliso Viejo, CA (Feb 9), Quebec City (Feb 26), Chicago (March 1), New York (March 3), Washington, DC (March 4), St. Paul (March 10), Kansas City (March 12) and Boston (March 15), he pairs Bach’s Art of Fugue – still one of the towering glories of the keyboard literature – with Bach transcriptions by Romantic masters Brahms, Liszt and Rachmaninov. Carnegie Hall and more with Sergei Babayan Trifonov completes the season in the company of his former teacher and longtime piano partner, Sergei Babayan, with whom he tours a program of Ravel, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev across New York State, with stops at Cornell University (Sep 30) and the Eastman School of Music (Oct 2), and in Troy (Oct 6), before culminating with an appearance on the mainstage of Carnegie Hall (Oct 16). It was after they performed together at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall last year that the New York Times observed: “Mr. Babayan and Mr. Trifonov, in a full-blooded performance, seemed of a single mind in touch and style. … The firepower they achieved together is rare among piano duos.” Later this fall, the two pianists also reunite in Dortmund, Germany, for double concertos by Bach, Mozart, Schumann and Rachmaninov with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Nov 13), with whom they recorded their 2017 release, Chopin Evocation.