Art of Life - Bach / Daniil Trifonov

Release Date: 10/8/2021
Catalog Number: 003427702
Performer: Daniil Trifonov
Number of Discs: 2

Physical Format:

CD
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Daniil Trifonov returns with an album dedicated to J.S. Bach. He explores the scientific, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of Bach's cosmos, his faith, family, and world. Centered around Bach's mystical masterpiece, The Art of the Fugue, Trifonov's project investigates the man behind the myth - a genius of humility and humor, whose loves, losses, and devotion inspired what Trifonov calls "some of humanity's most emotionally rich and fascinatingly sophisticated expressions in music."

 

REVIEW:

 

The Art of Life comprises a kind of double bill. It begins with a family portrait, first through the voices of J.S. Bach’s sons Johann Christian, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Christoph Friedrich, followed by works by family members and friends included in the 1725 notebook that J.S. Bach presented to his wife Anna Magdalena. If you think that this repertoire doesn’t suit a modern concert grand, you haven’t reckoned with Daniil Trifonov.

 

His light touch and supple fingerwork conveys extraordinary character and vivacity. Listen to the dashing runs and perfectly calibrated fast trills throughout J.C.F. Bach’s delightful “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” Variations, the subtle harmonic pointing in the C.P.E Bach Rondo, or the poignant lyricism the pianist brings out in the W. F. Bach Polonaise, and you’ll hear what I mean.

 

Trifonov broadens his tone and expands his dynamic compass for Bach’s D minor Chaconne in Brahms’ left-hand transcription. Although I admire Trifonov’s serious demeanor and sense of continuity, his interpretation is a bit monotonous; I expected more variety of articulation and mood, as one hears from Leon Fleisher and Ivan Ilic.

 

Variety, however, is the key element in how Trifonov approaches The Art of Fugue. One easily can grow fatigued hearing so many pieces in D minor with a common theme. Trifonov circumvents this issue by imparting a unique character and sound world to each contrapunctus. The opening fugue, for example, is a model of grace and flexibility, while the dotted rhythms of No. 2 have an almost Mendelssohnian litheness. No. 4 breezes by in a flash, while No. 5 is fluidly inward (does Trifonov keep the una corda pedal down throughout?). The pianist’s octave doublings and grandiloquent tempo for the “French style” No. 6 will make Angela Hewitt’s fans duck for cover.

 

I love how Trifonov shapes each of the three-note phrases of No. 11’s first theme slightly differently, yet I’m less convinced by his dynamic builds, where his amplified textures somehow dissipate the effect of Bach’s amazing chromatic harmony. He plays the Canon at the Fifth more deliberately and lyrically than one often hears, while conversely skating through the Canon at the Third, where I anticipated a less conservative cadenza at the end.

 

One might describe Trifonov’s completion of the unfinished Contrapunctus 14 as “gentle Busoni”, in regard to its gothic octaves and rapt introspection. In fact, Trifonov’s reading of the completed text incorporates an effective degree of legato phrasing and liberal pedaling. In this sense, it’s surprising to hear such a heavy-gaited Bach/Hess “Jesu, Joy”, with emphatic bass lines and downbeats–a far cry from the gorgeously fluent recordings by Dinu Lipatti and, of course, Myra Hess herself. Despite my quibbles over specific interpretive issues, I must acknowledge that Trifonov realizes his conceptions with thoroughness, clarity, and authority, abetted by DG’s splendid engineering.

 

– ClassicsToday.com (Jed Distler)

Works on This Recording
1. Sonatas (6) for Keyboard, Op. 17: no 5 in A major by Johann Christian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (piano)
Period: Classical
Written: by 1779 ; London, England
2. Polonaises (12) for Harpsichord, F 12 by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: circa 1765 ; Germany
3. Rondo for Keyboard in C minor, Wq 59 no 4/H 283 by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1784 ; Hamburg, Germany
4. Variations on "Ah vous dirais-je, Maman," HW 12 no 2 by Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
5. Anna Magdalena Notenbuch: Musette in D, BWVAnh126 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Written: 1725 ;
6. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Gedenke doch, mein Geist, BWV 509 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
7. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Menuet in A minor, BWV Anh. 120 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
8. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Menuet in F major, BWV Anh. 113 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
9. Polonaise in F major, BWV Anh. 117a by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
10. Polonaise in D minor, BWV Anh. 128 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
11. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Gib dich zufrieden, BWV 511 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
12. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 114 [attrib. Christian Petzold] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
13. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 116 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
Written: 1722-1725 ; Germany
14. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Polonaise in G minor, BWV Anh. 125 [attrib. C.P.E. Bach] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
15. Clavierbüchlein no 2 for Anna Magdalena Bach: Menuet in C minor, BWV Anh. 121 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
16. Bist du bei mir by Gottfried H. Stölzel
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
17. Studies (5) for Piano, Anh 1a/1: no 5, Chaconne by Bach by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Romantic
18. Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Period: Baroque
Written: circa 1745-1750 ; Leipzig, Germany
19. Cantata "Herz und Mund und Tat und Lebeu", BWV 147: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring [transc. for piano] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
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