Daniil Trifonov might be the most talked-about young pianist of the moment. Reviewers are almost uniformly thrilled by his performances, but they are equally baffled by some of his interpretive choices. That’s usually a sign that a phenomenon is brewing. Trifonov puts a demonic technique to good use; for examples of that check out his performances of Liszt or Rachmaninoff. Here, though, I’ve chosen an example of his interpretive audacity, and no dazzling technique is required. Trifonov’s career was launched at the 2011 Arthur Rubinstein Competition, which he won at the age of 20. In this performance at that competition, Trifonov plays a Baroque sonata like it’s something from the late Romantic era. He chose this piece to provoke the judges–to show his confidence (and maybe his defiance) in giving such a personal and unconventional reading of the piece. It worked.
Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata in D Minor, L. 108
Performed by Daniil Trifonov (piano) (5 minutes)
Now, for reference, here is a different performance of the same piece, played in a style more authentic to the eighteenth century by the fine keyboard artist Aline Zylberajch.
Performed by Aline Zylberajch (fortepiano) (4 minutes)