New video: Daniil Trifonov – ‘I wake up with Schoenberg in my head’

New video: Daniil Trifonov – ‘I wake up with Schoenberg in my head’


norman lebrecht

December 14, 2013

In an intimate, concentrated interview, the Tchaikovsky-winning young pianist shows Zsolt Bognar how it’s done. And how to play the piano while lying on your back. Watch and learn.

daniil trifonov interview


  • Thank you, Norman!

    Here is a fascinating interview with a uniquely gifted and extremely important artist. Listening to Daniil Trifonov (not just here) makes it quite obvious that he is a consummate musician for whom not one note of the music he plays is unimportant, and who will go to great lengths to find just the right approach to every single phrase and play it with the utmost conviction. Everything he plays seems to reflect this attitude that each note is about life and death, and that is what is so captivating for his listeners. And he does all this at such a high level pianistically, unreached by anyone else.

    Sadly, so many performers are hyped these days, and even sadder is that so many people believe the hype. With Trifonov, there is only music, and nothing else.

  • RMCQ Admin says:

    Can’t say I blame him, I wake up with Schoenberg in my head too. Mind you, my choir are rehearsing Friede auf Erden so it’s probably just as well…

  • Michael says:

    Great interview, great pianist. A real delight to watch.

  • Jennifer says:

    This kid’s a real musician, not another overhyped prodigy.

  • Elijah says:

    Mr. Bognár himself is an excellent pianist.

  • Hank Drake says:

    Indeed he is, Elijah. “…shows Zsolt Bognar how it’s done”? I doubt it.

  • Diana says:

    Great interview and an absolutely exceptional pianist!

  • Ursula Kutter says:

    Daniil Trifonov ist ein Genie, für mich der Liszt des 21. Jahrhunderts. Ein ganz außergewöhliches Ausnahmetalent. Ich freue mich auf das nächste Konzert im Kammermusiksaal der Philharmonie in Berlin am 21.1.2014. Bei seinem Debutkonzert hier 2013 konnt ich ihn schon hören.

  • m2n2k says:

    He certainly is one of the best young pianists today. My only serious criticism of his playing would be that sometimes this exaggeration of sweetness and tenderness that he demonstrates so vividly in this interview creeps into his actual performances and makes his interpretations, for my taste, a bit too precious and slightly mannered. Other than that, he is definitely an outstanding musician.

    • Rgiarola says:

      Trifonov was in town last month with Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Schumann. Althoug I agree with m2n2k, Trifonov is the hope against all hype and bullshit that reigned not just the Piano, but even conductor positions.

    • He is very young … I think that today, he is 24? Youth tends to exaggerate … not always a bad thing, you know? I can think of enough boring “young” artists — just listen to the finals of some piano competitions these days. At least, everything Mr. Trifonov plays is interesting, although I might do things a bit different here and there myself. His playing definitely has personality, but without having to work at it (if you know what I mean).

      What might seem exaggerated to some people stems from a genuine musical impulse to communicate with his listeners — not to be confused with the exaggeration shown by many of his “peers” for the mere “coolness factor” (he really has no peer today … I use the term very loosely). Without naming individual persons, I’m sure that anyone can “fill iin the blanks” here… My suggestion: start with the letter “L” 🙂

      Let’s see what he sounds like ten years from now. In the meantime, I am enjoying every single performance of his to which I can listen!

      • Should be “differently”, of course (in the 4th sentence)!

      • anon says:

        I can certainly understand the criticism that Trifonov is too mannered/precious, although it always seems to stem from some sort of genuine engagement with the music (i.e., not the kind of mannerism you get from a Lang Lang). It’s interesting to listen to him because he’s constantly experimenting, and he’s only 22, so who knows where he’ll go from here…

  • m2n2k says:

    In my opinion, praise for any one artist loses some of its value when it is “supported” by bashing another one.

    • anon says:

      That’s like saying wine tastings are bad because you shouldn’t compare.

      • m2n2 says:

        No, it’s not like that at all – certain amount of comparing is quite natural even in music and can be hard to avoid. But ultimately the reason we like wine A is that we enjoy certain qualities of its taste and not the fact that wine B is not to our liking. So let’s leave those kinds of comparisons to the only milieu where they truly belong – in competitions, which actually is a good reason why many of us dislike such contests in the arts rather intensely.