Now and then: Daniil Trifonov

One of our favorite things here at is being able to follow artists and ensembles over the years. In our new series, Now and Then, we’ll be dipping into our archives to pull out early performances from some of today’s most beloved musicians to let you experience their musicianship through a different lens.

Few ascents have been more meteoric than Daniil Trifonov’s. Since winning medals at three major competitions during the 2010–2011 season—including third place at the Chopin Competition, first place at the Rubinstein Competition, and both first prize and Grand Prix at the Tchaikovsky Competition—the young Russian pianist has become a central fixture of the world’s most prestigious festivals.

This past week at the Verbier Festival, we had the opportunity to see both sides of the multi-faceted musician through an intimate, Chopin-inspired solo recital, and the world premiere of his Quintetto Concertanto.

Just six years earlier, Daniil Trifonov made his Verbier Festival debut with another intimate, Chopin-inspired solo recital. Let’s take a look at 21-year-old Trifonov performing Chopin’s Etude Op. 25, No. 6 back in 2012…

▶️ Click here to see the full recital

Chopin—another virtuosic composer-performer—has featured heavily in Trifonov’s repertoire over the years, both in concert and in the recording studio. The pianist’s 2018 Verbier Festival recital extended its gaze outwards to include composers that influenced or were influenced by the French-Polish composer.

Chopin is one of the world’s most beloved composers—the poetry of his music goes straight to the heart and requires no justification. But in a sense, the genius of Chopin becomes even more clear in the context of those who influenced him and those who have been influenced by him. —Daniil Trifonov

Composed about five years after the étude in the previous excerpt, Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 with its iconic Marche funèbre similarly calls for both a monstrous level of technical skill and nuanced, sensitive musicality—something Trifonov has been able to deliver from the start. As Martha Argerich commented in 2011 after his tour de force competition run (and shortly before the Verbier Festival debut excerpted above), “What he does with his hands is technically incredible. It’s also his touch—he has tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that.”

▶️ Click here to see the full recital

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