Rachmaninov Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 4; JS Bach’s Partita in E for solo violin, arr. Rachmaninov Daniil Trifonov (piano); Philadelphia Orchestra/yannick Nézet-séguin Deutsche Grammophon 483 5335
What do you believe is the secret behind the success of this recording?
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a great history playing with Rachmaninov, and there are still a lot of elements of that tradition that have been carefully preserved. In some places, the violins use a slight glissando between notes, and if you listen to Rachmaninov’s recordings with the Philadelphia, the violins do similar things. The orchestra also still has the scores of the Fourth Concerto from Rachmaninov’s day with the composer’s markings in.
What was your approach, pianistically?
I’ve been working on my Rachmaninov sound for a long time – it’s very different from the sound needed for other composers. It has to be extremely warm and spacious, and not too sharp. But it also needs a roundness to play Rachmaninov’s large phrases in one long breath and not make them feel like a compilation of many smaller phrases.
Do you think the Fourth Concerto is as great a work as the Second?
I think it’s perhaps even more innovative – it’s extremely fresh and representative of that time; I feel transported to the period when it was written. There are so many rapid changes and, unlike the Second, it doesn’t contain long lines. He goes into almost Mendelssohnian style – it’s a very interesting experiment.
Why did you include the Rachmaninov transcription of the Bach partita?
Well, firstly, it’s something that I hadn’t recorded yet – it’s a brilliant transcription and I wanted to have something in between the concertos. But the partita is also a bridge between them: the Second Concerto is written in quite a polyphonic language, and there’s one small fugue in the development section of the final movement. Rachmaninov’s transcription also contains a little bit of the jazz language that he’d go on to use in the Fourth Concerto.
A wild ride: star pianist Daniil Trifonov