Daniil Trifonov TranscendentalTranscendental

Daniil Trifonov plays Franz Liszt

Daniil Trifonov, piano

Deutsche Grammophon, 2016

Tracklist and more details

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Bringing together a huge collection of Liszt’s music for piano, Daniil Trifonov’s double disc set Transcendental makes a large contribution to the discography of these works. Transcendental features Liszt’s most representative piano works and allows to follow the development of Liszt’s prodigious technique in the course of the years through Trifonov’s outstanding performance. The Russian pianist brings subtle and timbral varieties to the works and displays his superb technique and exceptional sensitivity. The huge palette of colours, the wise use of dynamics and the rich, expressive playing are the elements that make this recording a milestone in the performance of Liszt’s piano works.

Transcendental Etudes

Liszt published the Transcendental Etudes (or Etudes d’exécution transcendante) in 1852 as the final revision of works he already published in 1826 and, in their second version, in 1837. Dedicated to composer and great piano virtuoso Carl Czerny (who was Liszt’s teacher), in their definitive form they have a linear structure, even though they are extremely demanding from the technical point of view.

Trifonov plays the Transcendental Etudes with admirable technical finish and sincere commitment, balancing unfailing virtuosity and remarkable interpretative insight. These works are technically polished and also filled with irrepressible feelings, which are boldly expressed in the No. 2 in A minor, with its vibrant and tense playing, or in the intense nuances of Mazeppa. There is also room for delicacy and smoothness, as in Paysage, a piece characterized by a soft atmosphere, or the enchanting Ricordanza, with its gracefully melancholic tone.

Two Concert Etudes & Three Concerts Etudes

Waldersrauschen and Gnomenreigen are the titles of the Two Concert Etudes. Waldersrauschen is remarkable for its dreamy tone and smoothness. The silvery sound of Trifonov’s instrument is really praiseworthy. For its part, Gnomenreigen is more vivacious and there is a magical energy in the way Trifonov depicts it.

The Three Concerts Etudes are remarkable for the lightness and elegance of Trifonov’s execution, which achieves one of the best results in the airy, vague La leggerezza, where it seems that the pianist’s fingers are merely caressing the keys.

Grandes Études de Paganini

The six Grandes Études de Paganini (1851) are Liszt’s tribute to his model, Italian composer and violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini. They are based on Papagnini’s popular Caprices and, as in the original works, each of them focus on a particular technical or musical demand.

The Grand Etudes de Paganini are perhaps the works where Trifonov’s virtuosity stand out better, as his flamboyant display of technical brilliance is much more immediate here than – for example – in his equally painstaking renditions of Ricordanza or Gnomenreigen. Perhaps it depends from the fact that there was the “veil” of other situations and “pictures” in those pieces, while the Grand Etudes are captivating mainly for their lustrous tone and brilliance.

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