Daniil Trifonov / Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Philadelphia Orchestra

Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3

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Pianist Daniil Trifonov's Rachmaninov albums have gained lots of attention, and this one, featuring the youthful and explosive Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1, and the perennial crowd-pleasing Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, perhaps the most technically difficult concerto in the repertory. You may be confused by the meaningless Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival title and train imagery, and truth to tell, even Deutsche Grammophon's marketing gurus seem to have mostly given up on the concept, but it doesn't matter. Trifonov, you may feel, is not a pianist like Rachmaninov himself. He is fleet rather than sweepingly powerful. However, the fact is that few players today can bring the clarity that he does in the composer's polyphonic textures, and do it at top speed besides. Give it a moment to sink in, and it will sweep you along. Sample the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 3, and note how Trifonov pushes the tempo every chance he gets, and how Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra match him step for step. Indeed, the album marks a new stage in the revival of the Philadelphians under their French conductor; the shaping of the high-velocity brass phrases throughout is remarkable. As elsewhere, Trifonov includes solo piano transcriptions of other works: that of "The Silver Sleigh Bells," from The Bells, Op. 35, works marvelously; that of the Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, is less successful, although it's not as pointless as it might sound. Deutsche Grammophon's sound from Verizon Hall in Philadelphia (the solo piano pieces are from elsewhere) is a bit distant but clear enough to show what Trifonov can do. Highly recommended.

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