Classical review: Daniil Trifonov & Friends

It seems that no matter in which guise pianist Daniil Trifonov appears, he is an artist unlike any other in this year's International Festival.

Star rating: *****

Venue: Queen’s Hall

Whether recitalist, concerto soloist or, as was the case yesterday morning at the Queen’s Hall, chamber musician, he excels across the piece.

But no star gets to this level of distinction without being well taught. Hearing Trifonov and his teacher/mentor Sergei Babayan together is surely an occasion that will find its place in the annals of EIF history.

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The stunning sight of two full-size Steinways fitting perfectly side by side was paralleled by astounding playing from Trifonov and Babayan.

Totally in accord with each other, stylistically and musically, the gently rolling first movement of Rachmaninov’s Fantasie-tableaux, or Suite No 1, paved the way for a reflective, almost meditative, piece making strikingly effective use – as Rachmaninov often did – of bells as inspiration. The Suite No 2 is a livelier affair, with an unfurling Romance followed by a breathtakingly thrilling Tarantello.

In the same composer’s Trio élégiaque Op 9, Trifonov was joined by violinist Gidon Kremer and cellist Giedré Dirvanauskaite for a sensitively grief-laden performance of Rachmaninov’s tribute to his hero, Tchaikovsky, written the year in which he died.