A burnout warning from Trifonov’s teacher

Elijah Ho has written a fine profile of the pianist Daniil Trifonov, underpinned by admonitions from his teacher Sergei Babayan that he gives too much of himself, on stage and off.

“I do worry for a burnout,” says Babayan. “When he plays, he gives so much of himself. Sometimes I’m scared he’s burning that candle too intensely.”…

“As long as he takes care of himself — along with his incredible, beautiful soon-to-be wife, whom I adore — to not burn as crazily as he does, that would be my wish for him. ‘Proud’ is not the right word for how I feel about Daniil: I am simply privileged, grateful to have this diamond, this beautiful creature who can feel music this way, in my life.”

Read the full article here.


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  • Daniil Trifonov’s teacher is the great pianist Sergei Babayan. While teaching a conducting course at Orford Arts Centre I had the pleasure of meeting Sergei Babayan. His piano master classes were fascinating experiences. Whenever I could, I attended them and benefited immensely. It is ironic that he cautions Trifonov not to give so much of himself while teaching Sergei gives himself totally. His master classes often ran overtime and were just amazing. Babayan is a legend himself and he has produced so many fascinating students.

  • Burnout (and creeping mannerisms?) are exactly what I’ve worried about re Trifonov. Thankfully, none of that is evident in his new gorgeous Chopin disc. He should be mindful of not turning into the next Pogorelich.

    • Ivo Pogorelich didn’t burn out but became the most insightful pianist. His Haydn, Mozart, Scarlatti’s unparallel divine creation. The way D.Trifonov played Mozart, so lame is not in danger but his career is.

      • I too admire Pogorelich’s early Haydn and Scarlatti recordings. Also his Gaspard. Then things changed. Why did the musical establishment turn its collective back on him?

        • Ivo Pogorelich was struck by his wife death. British pianist Christian Blackshow withdrew from performing after loss of his wife. Thanks to his children that talk him to play in public again. Now I and us have the most wonderful live recording of all Mozart sonatas.

  • Neither brunout nor creeping mannerisms are detectable either in his recording of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes and other works. It is the finest rendering of these fiendishly virtuosic pieces you will ever hear, with incomparable and unsurpassable filigree and liquidity. Has to be heard to be believed. These pieces have never been played better by anyone before Trifonov and I don’t think I will ever again hear better in the future.

    • Not to understimate Trifonov’s recording of the Liszt Etudes, but I think you are going too far with your praise. Have you heard Gerstein’s recording of the same works?

      • I am somewhat familiar with Gerstein’s Liszt Etudes, yes, having heard his recording a couple of times. If I recall, I was not as impressed as with Trifonov. But rest assured, I will pay Gerstein another hearing as soon as I can do so with focus.

      • Also Lazar Berman. He was at the peak of his powers in pieces such as these, “a real, true blue Romantic,” in the words of Harold C. Schonberg.

        • I had LP of Lazar Berman playing Liszt transcendental etudes by Melodia at 1960th. Ervin Nyergigazy playes the best Mazeppa

        • Not to mention the immortal György Cziffra – – especially in the Transcendentals and Gnomenreigen (the latter never surpassed, in my view).

          • Yes, indeed! One might add that Rachmaninoff’s Gnomenreigen is also in a very special class.

        • Thanks for reminding me of Rachmaninov’s recording of Gnomenreigen; you’re right, it’s right up there with the top versions. As a matter of interest, do you happen to know whether Moiseivitsch recorded this piece?

          • Didn’t find Benno Moiseivich recording of Liszt “Gnomenreigen”, only “La Leggirrezza”. Also Rachmaninov-Mendelsohn “Sckerzo”.Great rendition of “Gnomenreigen” by young Chinese pianist Moye Chien.

          • No, Moiseiwitsch did not record it, but as Esfir Ross implies, his La Leggierezza is at the same stratospheric level.

        • Ah yes, Clifford Curzon. Are you thinking of that wonderful Liszt LP he recorded in….well when I was a very young man anyway, so maybe 1960s?. Containing the B minor Sonata (still among the very finest interpretations), the Liebestraum No.3, Gnomenreigen, amongst other pieces which included a stunningly beautiful and filigree rendition of the – alas- seldom played Berceuse (2nd version, if I recall correctly). The beauty and delicacy of his tone was remarkable.

  • By the by, Mr. Babayan’s Scarlatti disc is a miracle of fine pianism. Again, has to be heard to be believed.

    • Babayan and Argerich are playing a two-piano recital in Cleveland on Oct. 30. I bought my tickets early. It appears to be just about sold-out.

  • I find it impossible to watch this guy without feeling physically unwell. Audio only.
    You can say what you like about Yuja’s dress habits, she has a perfect posture and Tryphoneoff would do well to emulate it. Or for male “model” of good posture, take Barenboim.

  • Here is an artist who has journeyed into the sublime. All this talk of posture, mannerisms and potential burnout has nothing to do with anything.

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