Chopin Evocations – Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 (orchestrated by Mikhail Pletnev); Variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’; Rondo for 2 pianos; Impromptu No 4; Schumann: ‘Chopin’ (No 12 from ‘Carnaval’); Grieg: ‘Homage à Chopin’; Barber: Nocturne; Tchaikovsky: ‘Un poco di Chopin’; Mompou: Variations on a theme by Chopin

Reviewed on Mon 19 Mar, 2018

Daniil Trifonov’s tonal and dynamic distinctions are faithfully reproduced, as are his interpretative subtleties reflecting an expansion of boundaries to seek new inroads into the core of a composition.

It’s Daniil Trifonov and Mikhail Pletnev. Reactions could vary from apprehension to dismay. Comfort zones may be seriously disturbed. Pletnev’s orchestrations first. What’s wrong with Chopin’s own? Nothing as such. But they can be pale, even a mite drab. Pletnev adds variety in crucial places. Three examples: in the first movement of the First Concerto, the opening part of the E major section (1’58”-2’29”) scored for first violins is now played by a solo clarinet; the repeat of the soloist’s eight-bar theme in the finale is transferred to the woodwinds, as is the initial subject of the Second originally for strings. Colouring is striking. So is Pletnev’s conducting, always considerate of Trifonov’s unique individuality, both artists freely expressive and rhythmically malleable – though never at the expense of structural integrity. These are collective interpretations, steering well clear of routine and keeping you in thrall, even though the orchestral sound lacks the ultimate in range and clarity. Not so the solo instrument which in the rest of the programme also has an immediacy of its own. Trifonov’s tonal and dynamic distinctions are faithfully reproduced, as are his interpretative subtleties reflecting an expansion of boundaries to seek new inroads into the core of a composition, eg Mompou’s Variations, a study in rumination and introspection entrancingly realised. But the end is a return to Chopin, the Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op 66, also recorded by Raoul Koczalski (c.1920s), Alfred Cortot (1933) and Stefan Askenase (1972). All are very authoritative. But it’s Trifonov who captures a vein of longing in the extended middle D flat section that again illustrates his sensitivity to underlying depths.
–Nalen Anthoni