Daniil Trifonov: The toughest concerto I ever played

The pianist who can play anything perfectly on sight has one work in mind that gives him nightmares.

Busoni? Schoenberg? Beelzebub?


… oh, read for yourselves here in a fascinating VAN interview with Jeffrey Arlo Brown.


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  • Is he really able to read perfectly at sight (everything, or almost?) or is there a little hyperbole there. Does anyone know any top-class pianists well enough to know if many of them can really do this? It seems as though John Ogdon really could (from various sources), and Christopher Nupen said that Ashkenazy could/can.

  • Ironically, his own concerto has a couple of really good episodes in the orchestra but as soon as the piano breaks-in, the music sinks down to drunk Rachmaninoff-kitsch.

    Composers who are also pianists, as in the 18th and 19th century, are another species than pianists who also compose. As with plumbing and dentistry, it is better to leave the really difficult thing to the professionals.

  • Marc-AndrĂ© Hamelin played the Schnittke Concerto with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta in December. In fact he played it 5 times in 8 days on tour with then, also playing a Haydn concerto in the 2nd half! I caught the Amsterdam performance which was quite astounding.

    • If that were a fact, then why this in the interview:

      “There’s some great music that takes a very long time just to read. For example, the Ligeti Piano Concerto. It’s wonderful, one of my favorite piano concertos from the second half of the 20th century. Currently I simply don’t have time to learn it.”

      But sight-reading is a wonderful thing. I once spent two full days recording the “Three posthumous Piano Pieces” by Grieg with the established Grieg expert of the times. It was hard going, very hard going, and extremely time-consuming, but we got it done.

      Then, just after, I had my first recording with Christian Lindberg and Roland Pöntinen. In a pause, Christian was bragging about Roland’s amazing sight-reading skill. So I took out the Grieg music, which Roland had neither seen or heard, and put it on the piano stand.

      Roland sat down and played them, in tempo, at least as good as the recording. I was completely flabbergasted. it is a talent, it really is.

      • Just about everything Grieg wrote is sight-readable. Besides, you don’t know for a fact that Roland had neither seen nor heard these pieces before, you only have his word for it.

        Sort of like the word “platonic” means nothing because we don’t REALLY know what Plato was up to, we only have his word for it.

        • Your referencing platonism is the most logically fallacious laughable argument I’ve come across in a while. You essentially negate all credible academic research on Platonism over the history of 2000 years, not to mention critical theory, postmodernist deconstruction and literary analysis. You really should research and think more carefully before you open your mouth/type.

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