This live recital, repeated in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, shows what a remarkable pianist Daniil Trifonov is. The three works stand as a kind of tricolore, side by side but not really blending. The Scriabin opens with a dreamy rendering of the Andante from the second Sonata, while the fleet-fingered ebb and flow of the Presto creates a beguiling texture that you don't want to end, it has so much feeling in its momentum. The Liszt is very different, not being about blurred continuity, but presented here as a patchwork of contrasts, each arrestingly negotiated, although the seams are well joined. Thrillingly virtuosic in the way he can bring out details in the middle of the most difficult passages, it never seems to play up the display aspect, but rather uses it to realise this poetic vision of landscapes both real and in the mind, you imagine, as something unfathomable, like a precipice in a Romantic painting falling between the highest peaks. The Chopin reins this in somewhat, but again there is a marvellous sense of Trifonov moulding the music. For instance in number ten he varies the descending ultra-rapid figuration seemingly with total spontaneity. No 12 in G sharp minor is exhilarating in a slightly clipped way, followed by the beautiful repose of the F sharp major, taken at just the right speed. Constant subtle nuances of rubato keep the famous Raindrop full of tender feeling, with the middle section looming implacably, emphasizing the contrast. In the fast number that follows his strong fingers do have their yielding moments that turn the right-hand roulade into a melodic utterance rather than the plain steeliness of some ... In short, Trifonov is always alive to the expressive opening-out, yet has a clear grasp of the bigger picture, and this sequence shows this admirably, with no wrong notes, amazingly.
I obtained this in the DG box set "111 Piano". It is absolutely first class, both the sound quality and the playing. Beautifully clear and accurate, yet has the personality so often lacking in today's technically immaculate but often dull recitalists. I love Scriabin's etudes and preludes, but have not warmed so much to his sonatas in the past, finding them a little rambling and cluttered. But here the no.2 sounds fabulous, rich and clear. There was a Radio 3 broadcast earlier this year of Trifonov playing one of the lesser known Schubert sonatas and in that too, he seemed to bring out something that made the work sound actually better than it is, if that makes sense. So in works that are clear masterpieces such as the Liszt sonata and the Chopin preludes, he is very hard to beat. In any case, among my huge collection of piano music I'd put this recital right up there with the best recordings I've heard.
An astounding performance of the Liszt sonata is the real gem in this recital. Trifonov has the technique, the temperament and serious musicianship to bring off a performance like this. Everything gels musically, and he plays with such fire and unbelievable crystalline clarity. It's some feat to bring together all musical strands into such a convincing interpretation - witness the coda to the sonata for example: it really adds up musically.
The preludes are played with sparkling individuality. He brings his own touches, it;s fresh and he really has something to say in each of the preludes. The playing at times makes you stop and think: "ah I like the way he does that ...!"
Scriabin 2nd sonata is a fine performance if not quite as memorable as the Liszt.
P.S. Trifonov's fingers are quite something. His rapid passage work is unbelievably clear and this works hugely to his advantage in the Liszt sonata.
Here is a talent to admire with playing of a quality which cannot surely be lettered. I have many discs of piano music and this will certanily stand at the top of my collection. I am entranced by the fingering !