Where’s Trifonov?

Where’s Trifonov?


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2021

Touring remote parts of Russia, with Gergiev: 11 concertos and the Art of the Fugue in 17 days.

Dear Friends, My concert tour in Russia has ended. Together with Maestro Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra we visited such places as Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Tyumen, Perm, Moscow, Vladikavkaz, Volgograd, Bryansk, Cheboksary, and my hometown, Nizhny Novgorod.  To say that the feasibility of organizing such a tour in the current situation was improbable is an understatement! Nevertheless, thanks to many creative and organizational efforts, the tour has happened. Every performance was assessed and presented according to the epidemiological situation and regulations in each region; in some places only 50% of the audience capacity was allowed, in some 75%, and some even had a full 100%. This tour showed that despite the difficulties of the current situation, following safety regulations for not just single concerts but for whole concert tours is entirely possible. During the tour, not a single PCR test came back positive; even on the private train, used by the Easter Festival, no one from outside the tour was allowed to board or travel on it, and everyone on the train was either vaccinated, had proven antibodies, or had undergone a quarantine. What lesson can we learn from this for future concerts and tours? It’s that while respecting protective measures – including vaccinations, especially of those in the higher-risk groups – we can return to a performing life that feels increasingly familiar and normal. I want to express the level of joy I felt to be performing again for the public, on a full tour: it filled me with creative energy and a new impetus for further work. Of course, the risks remain, but what was in our power to control was done successfully. I really hope that this tour will set an example for the world’s concert industry and will help show us all a way forward. Love the music.

Till next time.


  • Seriously says:

    “What lesson can we learn from this”?

    That maintaining a well-paid career is no problem if you’re an elite artist with a private train.


    • MacroV says:

      The train was for the orchestra, too. Makes sense to travel that way rather than by plane or bus.

    • Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

      Clearly Seriously has a serious grudge against a great young artist barely 30 who belongs to the category of those who fill the halls, pandemic allowing, quite simply because people want to listen to him. He uses “elite” like a dirty word and sneers at the enthusiasm of Trifonov returning from a successful well organised tour, thrilled to be playing again, inspiring others after the doom and gloom predictions about the end of public concerts and touring. And no, he did not do a Paderewski and take his own private train – as stated this was provided by the Easter Festival and carried a large orchestra and all involved in the tour. And yes, artists who fill halls do, hopefully, also get paid.

    • Dave says:

      You can say that again.

  • Seriously says:

    “What lesson can we learn from this for future concerts and tours?”

    That maintaining a well-paid career is no problem if you’re an elite, Gergiev-connected artist with a private train.


  • Akutagawa says:

    None of the Russian cities mentioned by Mr Trifonov are remote. It’s not vaguely comparable with Svyatoslav Richter, for example, who really did give concerts on battered old pianos in kolkhoz halls in the middle of nowhere.

    • V.Lind says:

      Indeed. Dima was from Krasnoyarsk and he described it to me when we first met as a big city.

    • M2N2K says:

      You are correct about most of the cities named, but not all of them. For example, Krasnoyarsk is in central Siberia, four and a half hours away from Moscow by plane, and therefore can certainly be described as “remote”. Comparisons with Richter’s concert tours are irrelevant because those were not happening during a worldwide pandemic. One thing for sure though: in Putin’s Russia, whatever Gergiev wants Gergiev gets.

      • Akutagawa says:

        You are correct that Krasnoyarsk is four and a half hours away from Moscow by plane. However, it is also a major junction on the Trans-Siberian railway and has a population of 1 million people. Seattle, which is around four and a half hours away from New York by plane, has a population of only around 800,000. Would you describe Seattle as remote?

        • Music fan says:

          Unlike in Krasnoyarsk, most American cities, including Seattle, have a large suburban population which is the primary source of Classical concert audiences. True, the population of municipal Seattle is under 800,000, but the Seattle Metropolitan Area has some four million people.

        • M2N2K says:

          The enormous differences between “center” and “provinces” in Russia are in many cultural and other respects far greater than they are in USA. So, while Seattle may not be accurately described as “remote”, practically all of Siberia can very well be characterized as such.

    • Michael says:

      Your point? Were things better in kolkhoz days, comrade?

  • MacroV says:

    Much as I dislike Gergiev politically, I had the chance to see him and the Maryinsky several times on their Easter Festival tours. They maintain a brutal pace, sometimes playing two concerts a day in different cities, and often doing long programs with the last-minute addition of a concerto or such. It was always an unforgettable experience; Gergiev gives good value.