Title - 'Rachmaninov Variations'
Artist - Daniil Trifonov
For those not in the classical know, Daniil Olegovich Trifonov is a Russian concert pianist and composer. Trifonov was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia and both of his parents were professional musicians. He began studying the piano at age five, and gave his first concert performance with an orchestra at age eight, losing one of his baby teeth during the performance. He studied under Tatiana Zelikman at Moscow’s famous Gnessin School of Music.
As for the late Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff himself, well, I think we all know the history of this great man. Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943), was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor and is widely considered as one of the finest pianists of his day; and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.
On Rachmaninov Variations, Trifonov returns, with a unique homage to his legendary idol, Sergei Rachmaninov, and his first studio album for DG - a dazzling collection of hits, rarities and a world premiere.
With this album, the young artist pays tribute to his illustrious musical forefather with a fascinating program comprising three sets of Rachmaninov Variations: the hyper-virtuostic Variations on a theme of Corelli and the rare Variations on a Theme of Chopin for solo piano, along with the famous and much-loved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra.
Rounding out the program, Trifonov showing himself as a brilliantly inventive and appealing composer, he offers - Rachmaniana a touching, original work in homage to the master. The famous 18th Variation from the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is one of the most beautiful and instantly recognizable melodies in all of classical music used numerous times in movies and TV commercials the world-over.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has its very own connection to the Rhapsody: it gave the world premiere of the work in 1934, with the composer at the piano. Now it is being conducted by DG s highly acclaimed Yannick Nézet-Séguin who gets constantly rave reviews for his performances with the orchestra.
In closing, Rachmaninov Variations is a remarkable concert all around. Each variation sounds both distinctive with character and part of the whole. They flow seamlessly and it never gets messy; it truly sounds like one cohesive piece of music that happens to be comprised of 24 variations of a single theme. That 18th variation, which can sometimes risk being consumed by its own dreamy nature, here strikes a perfect balance without becoming too self-aware. One of the best renditions I’ve heard.