zAs the central agency for international musical life, Salzburg’s comprehensive offer includes ten piano concerts. Olympiad? Even with competitions? There are more than three weeks between the concerts of Daniil Trifonov and Igor Levit. This reduces the risk of presenting both parties as a duel between the Crown Prince. The two praised are very different. According to a distinction made by American composer, pianist and critic Jed Distler, Levit belongs to “producer pianists” who give meticulously thought-out interpretations, while Trifonov belongs to “pianists” who are spontaneous and impulsive.
It was no longer true that Trifonov, now thirty-one years old, was intoxicated by his playing or enjoying the spectacle of his gestures. He plays more quietly, with a flat hand position similar to that of Vladimir Horowitz, but with a strong resonant fullness. What distinguishes his playing is the rich palette of tone, especially the meditative piano, the wealth of nuances, and the refined compositions of the inner voices.
For his program, he had chosen notable works, however, that are not on the main street of reference: at first, the Third Sonata, composed in 1917 by the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. The four parts are joined by a short movement that ends in a fugue. Post-impressionistic blinking, jarring, anger at the end might raise the startling question of whether Trifonov’s long, slender fingers were controlled solely by the hands or directly by the central nervous system.
Claude Debussy’s three-part suite “Pour le piano”, which he composed over a long period of time between 1894 and 1901, led us into a completely different world. Two swift movements, drawing on old masters such as François Couprin and Jean-Philippe Rameau, frame an advanced srapande with the allure of chromatic mystery. Prélude, with its swift martellite and sparkling glissandi, remained devoid of all romantic influences, as the composer demanded, despite his strong “voice”. The solemn stringed syllables of Sarabandi are enchanting, as she dances with “élégance Gravity et lente”. How fluid is the continuous movement of the toccata’s pulsating, lively but not frenzied: with finer syllables of pianissimo that sounded like the echo of a force from afar, it concluded with a mountain of stringed, pedal-saturated sound.
Sergei Prokofiev owes his reputation as a terrible brat to his piano prowess that erupted into violent rhythmic and dynamic excesses. What a good thing to speak on behalf of five miniatures he recommended himself as a piano instigator in 1916: “Sarkasmen”. Barely more than two minutes each, as the performance instructions indicate, they have the stark magic of a hideous mask: tempestoso, singyozando, samanioso or reseptocissimo. However, Trifonov not only demonstrates athletic energy, but forms a peculiar character cut.
“This is an invitation”
Clara Schumann’s words came after the first meeting with twenty-year-old Johannes Brahms and Sonata in F minor when Trifonov returned after the break: “Again, this is someone who comes as if sent by God!” That the fact that the piano being written in the opening of the Allegro maestoso is “huge”, for example in octave jumps in the development of the first movement, is not felt even in Trifonov. With a well-chosen timbre feel, the lyrical contrast theme is drenched in late summer color. Brahms prefaced the Andante movement with verses by CO Sternau: “The evening is shining, the moon is shining, two hearts are united in love and embracing each other happily.” With the dialogue contrast and the interaction between two topics, especially the inner melody, a part of the left melody evokes all the vibrations of romance. Flooded in the faded colors of a funeral procession, the short fourth movement, described by Brahms as a retrospective, plays Allegro’s finale with a warily and tense rabbinic.
Robert Schumann expressed his gratitude for the wonderful concert: “He wore all the signs, even on the outside, that announced to us: he was an invited man. He sat down at the piano, and began to reveal wondrous areas. We were drawn into increasingly magical circles. “