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CD Review

The Carnegie Hall Recital

Daniil Trifonov, piano
Recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York, 5 February 2013
Deutsche Grammophon 4791728 78:48
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This mostly magnificent solo recital was captured live a Carnegie Hall in 2013 and ably showcases the abundant gifts of young Daniil Trifonov. Unlike Lang Lang's highly regarded Carnegie recital on the same label, this is a single-disc effort with only one encore. By the same token, I find the entire project less hyped and less garish, giving me hope that Trifonov doesn't become a victim of his own press like his Asian counterpart.

And the whole affair is somewhat more subdued. I don't mean to suggest any lack of talent; the pianist takes on pieces that have a clearly established legacy in the Universal catalog and barely sweats. But there is no applause between numbers, the audience is quiet as opposed to buzzing, and despite the predictable puffery of the notes, the whole disc just feels like a great concert recording. Against pianists like Argerich, Pollini, and Ashkenazy, Trifonov holds his own technically. But the Scriabin is pretty as opposed to deep, while the Liszt stuns from a pianistic perspective without wholly convincing as an interpretation.

Given that reactions to Trifonov's recorded Chopin are already so varied, I was apprehensive about the Chopin Op. 28. I shouldn't have worried. Though Trifonov does tend to go quickly through passages because he can, I find that when he does slow down and allow the music to breathe, the results are very fine indeed. When speed is called for, the extroverted confidence with which the pianist articulates these preludes is impressive. The sound gives you a great seat in the house, so to speak. Unlike Lang Lang's recital, there is a noticeable lack of obnoxious coughing and extraneous noise, something that makes this release feel less like a souvenir than most of these recital productions. Speaking of production values, there was absolutely no reason for the encore to be in an unreadable color on the box when the other tracks are so clearly visible. It's a knockout all the same, and a stunning conclusion to a very rewarding program.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman