The most original Bach player since Glenn Gould?

This is Daniil Trifonov’s acceptance in absentia this week on an RPS award.

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  • Such imaginative and virtuoso playing. I’d like to hear him play some pure Bach. Then we could compare him to Gould.

  • Technical dexterity and not much else ,dull as dishwater …..Gould was tolerable and oft interesting , this was a bore .

    • No doubt you, yourself, are a major talent who could surpass Trifonov even when playing air piano.

      • The subject is Trifonov playing a Bach work .Try to keep the little mind focused
        on topic not qualifications .

      • What is it with people who *always* use the stupid remark “can you do better?”. That is not the point! You don’t have to be able to paint yourself to know if a painting is well done or not.

        • True, but still, it’s a difference if somebody who can’t do it because of lack of talent and/or diligent makes a comment or a person who is actually able to do it.

        • Did you ever comment something in a positive (if you know this word at all) or just neutral or/and constructive? How frustrated, unhappy and untalented you must be…I pity you.
          The day will come when you will have no courage to say all those comments face to face to some great musicians. You will just look away, or smile scared or just look at the ground unhappy and pitiful.
          I am maybe the only person who cares in a way about your comments, because they are condescending, disrespectful and always in the same manner and I can not stand it.
          All those people you always comment about are talented, hard working people.
          Your comments are just arrogant and ignorant and so for not needed at all.
          Really hope to see one day what kind of a sad figure you are in real life.

          • You need to understand that these are merely miserable projections from this internet troll. Notice how these types always accuse others of exactly the things they do themselves – standard behaviour for trolls!

  • It is indeed far removed from Bach, as was every BWV Gould played (without Rachmaninov’s help). I shall never understand the near-worship of that man. But, it being so removed, I take Trifinov’s performance on its own terms and thus find it interesting, perhaps most of all because he is so intense in his attention to his certainly interesting dynamics. I shall have to give it two or three more hearings before I know whether I’d like it in my CD collection. There he would be among Edwin Fischer, Hewitt, Perahia, Landowska, Angelich, Kempff, and Dinnerstein, Gould’s Goldbergs for reference, and a few others playing mixed repertoire. I think after a pause that I really need to hear him play pure Bach.

  • I guess some of your commenters here actually knew how Bach wanted his music performed. Speaking for myself, so-called ‘authentic’ performances interest me, but they in no way get in the way of what later interpreters do with this music. I don’t always love the results (Karajan), but I don’t negate them simply because they’re not the style du jour.

    • I am sure others, as myself, described it as ‘removed from’ because this is an arrangement by Rachmaninov. Engaging with the ‘authentic’ argument can result in a viper’s nest. One has to start with the fact that Bach composed for the harpsichord, there not yet being the piano. For some, the harpsichord and its capabilities would bring Trifinov’s dynamics into question. But enjoy for what it is — Bach arranged by Rachmaninov — and there’s no need for argument.

      • Totally agree. Bach, whether via Rachmaninov, Busoni or Percy Grainger, or on piano, synthesizer or saxophone quartet, always has the promise of being interesting to me.

      • If you know the origin of the work and it wasn’t a harpsichord you would know
        the interpretation is so dreadfully precious as to drain it of any sort of life .
        There is very little if any musical phrasing unless one believes dainty digital dynamics
        substitute for phrasing.The transcription follows the original to a great degree and the
        dynamics and phrasing should fall naturaly ,here Trifonov descends to an empty mind
        indulging in a finger exercise.While Gould often was exasperating you knew there
        was a musical mind at work, agree or disagree.Here nothing but finger work.

        • If you mean Bach didn’t compose the work for harpsichord/clavichord, very true. However, as Rachmaninov arranged it for the piano, and this is what Trifinov plays, I just take the point of view that one should view the piece as a keyboard work, the better to get a grasp of it on its own terms. That said, it might well be better approached, looking at the issue the other way round, as I think one should the first movement of the English Suite No. 3, perhaps the most ‘orchestral’ of all Bach’s work written for the keyboard.

        • Milka, in principle I agree with your viewpoint, even though I think you go too far on the negatives. Can’t resist this question: what do you think of Lippati’s Bach recordings?

          • My parents heard him and couldn’t praise enough…what I heard left me indifferent.
            It was all there but needed red blood cells , a master mortician at work ,sort
            of , it it so life like but alas it is dead. Trifonov doesn’t make music as much as he
            just plays it with varying degrees of success. Suits the mob as does Lang Lang .
            I preferred a different type of player .

  • Far too much classical era elements in that playing. It just wouldn’t sound like that. Gould gained attention for playing Bach exclusively on the piano, but was known for his voice-enhancing technique with the works of Bach. It would seem this man is just trying to bend things for the sake of it, not for any further understanding of Bach’s work.
    Besides, his piano is out of tune. How could he not hear that?

  • The spinal deformation (kyphosis), semi-spastic jerks and ape-like, almost salivating grimaces would render it advisable to delete the video track. As an audio medium in isolation, passable at best.

  • Well,,,,Bach on a piano? I insist hearing Rachmaninov on a harsichord. Please, DO it Sir.

    • Playing Rachmaninov’s famous c-sharp minor prelude op. 3,2 on the harpsichord is great fun. Try it, if you can. I vividly remember the first time I did, 34 years ago.

  • Apples and oranges. Bach and Bach/Rachmaninov. For pure Bach, today I find both Fray and Anderszewski immensely interesting, insightful and listenable.

    • Agree on you opinion about Fray. I recently listed some recordings of him and pretty much liked and recognized a GG similarity – phrasing, and pedal use – although not as consistent as GG

  • Some of the criticism in this thread is unbelievable.
    Yes it is a piano and not a harpsichord…yes the piano hasn’t been tuned recently (maybe its in his studio)…yes its a transcription by Rachmaninov, who obviously revered Bach as did any thinking performer or composer from 1750 until now.
    This young pianist has great talent and musical ideas.
    Now…to compare him to Gould, who was an indisputable musical genius…we need to hear this fellow play some Bach from the urtext.
    I’d love that!

  • Painful to watch. I had to do spine extension exercises after. I hope for his sake he does yoga or something similar…

    • I actually do have serious concerns about his posture; his playing, on the other hand, is superlative, IMO.

  • This is a very nice Rachmaninov but a horrible Bach. And please sit straight, my back hurts when I just look at you.

  • The answer to Mr. Lebrect’s question is of course “no.” (ROFL!)

    But this, ladies and gentleman, is the man we’ve been waiting so long for:

    The Russian Lang Lang.

    He’s not there quite yet. But he’s getting there.

    Of course this is quite good. Quite delicate finger playing. Quite unrythmical. Quite a few nyances, but not too many.

    Are you people blind and dead? There are dozens of pianists in the world today who could play it just as good as this. Not to mention all those who could surpass mr. Trifonov in a humiliating way. And Rachmaninov, as much as I adore you: This is not your brightest moment.

  • Simone Dinnerstein played JS Bach in Oakland, CA Mills college. Symphonies {15 3 .voices inventions} and French suite #5 and it was revelation. She’s the finest in Bach. Trifonov was always disappointment.

  • @Sue

    Actually I am never writing this kind of comments like Milka does from time to time.
    I am not sure if you got the point, I guess you didn’t.
    But it seems Milka needs your protection or that you feel like protecting her/him. That’s just a way to feel superior by explaining something which everybody actually understands. Sue, nobody need your childish observations here. It’s not that easy.
    So go troll somewhere else please.
    Again, this is just to Milka after reading her tasteless comments over and over again.
    If there is a Milka filter, let me know.
    That would be the easiest, because there will be always that type of person which need to write demeaning comments about people who have already reached so much more then Milka type people could ever imagine.
    One thing I admit is the question”why A”am I wasting my time with this” I hope to get a good answer at some point.


      • Bravo. Speaking of yourself. You are a arrogant, pretentious something. Not worthy of my comments actually. The day will come when we will meet in person. I am curious how much will be left of your knowledge and arrogance. Maybe we could have a normal discussion if you can speak at all. But most likely you will sit with a scared smile and look at the ground when people try to look into your fake eyes.

    • But ARE they embellishments? The whole notion of transcriptions is an interesting one. Why do composers/musicians write transcriptions? I never figured that out.

      • Sue I think that there are 2 reasons for transcriptions. I suppose that Liszt wrote the most – and certainly the best – transcriptions for piano. I am sure this partly served to show off his transcendental piano technique but mostly so that people could experience highlights from operas in salons and smaller stages – it was expensive and quite rare to be able to go to the opera hall. And of course they did not have other means of replaying the music back then! The second reason would be for the purpose of improvement or updating music for the modern instrument. Consider the case of Bach and Busoni: Bach wrote his keyboard music on a harpsichord (or organ) and Busoni was playing on a modern instrument so “updated” some of the parts so that they played better on a piano. Hope this starts an interesting debate! Tom

  • Did Norman and all miss Trifonov’s Bach-Brahms LH Chaconne? Truly impressive that a 25-year-old has the artistic conviction to play this piece in such a Gothic-Romantic style.
    And I bet some of these commenters here would rather listen to Igor Levit or some such bland cardboard.

    • Glad you mentioned it. A couple of months ago I heard DT playing Bach-Brahms Chaconne live in concert (with his right hand “tied behind his back”, so to speak) as the opening number of his recital program, and it was a marvelous performance. Don’t want to rate it and/or determine what kind of medal he deserves – gold-silver-bronze or whatever – but it was certainly a wonderful rendition.

  • He has deconstructed Bach’s lines to the point of losing some of the majestic feeling this piece has. Perhaps his novel approach will be enjoyed by some.. the ones who need cannon shots and little sparkles.. but this is not Bach in the grand tradition. He’ll get it straight in 20yrs or so..

  • Gould was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I never liked his playing as he took too many liberties with the music. And his grunting and associated noise were the weird incantations of the lunatic.

    • Just so. His mozart sonatas say it all, really. But I do recall one of the jurors at the first Glenn Gould Bach Competition (since renamed) saying that the title was unfortunate, first because the repertoire was mixed, and secondly, because if any competitor turned up and played Bach as Gould did, he/she would have been out in the first round. And that is the nub of it. Bach was most certainly not intended to be played at lightning speed in detache keyboard style.

      • Maybe not, though “most certainly” we don’t know that for sure. But in any case, when it was done that way by GG, it sounded great.

  • It was Gould who said that one doesn’t play the piano with one’s fingers but with one’s mind – something borne out by Gould’s playing but not, in this case, by Trifonov. Joy in what he’s doing there is, but, I feel, structurally muted: none of that clarity of vision, that thwarting of expectation at every phrase and every note. Which is fine for the work at hand (which is not Bach) and for Trifonov. There’s more Bach in Chopin than here, and Trifonov’s certainly done a better Chopin than Gould ever did…. That being said, there’s only one contemporary pianist who I would say could “surpass” Glenn Gould on Bach – Glenn would have enjoyed him immensely: Grigory Sokolov.

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