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Breaking: Tchaikovsky winner gets a label deal

You could have seen it coming a mile off….

Daniil Trifonov, the biggest Russian winner of the Tchaikovsky competition in years, signed today to Deutsche Grammophon.


This is good for Daniil, but it’s also a godsend for DG who have yet to get over Lang Lang’s defection to Sony (it’s counter-intuitive, you see: pianists aren’t meant to walk out on DG). Daniil will pump up the confidence once more. They won’t say what he’s going to record first, but conductors will be queuing up to have their name on it. My money’s on Thielemann for the concerto debut.

Here’s the PR stuff:



Young Russian piano sensation Daniil Trifonov has announced a new recording partnership with the 115-year old Berlin-based classical label, Deutsche Grammophon.


Described by The Washington Post as “an heir to Liszt”, the dynamic young Russian has been hailed around the world for his breathtaking virtuosity and the intense, inspired originality of his musical interpretations. In the line of great Russian piano virtuosos, from Horowitz to Richter to Kissin, critical opinion is unanimous: Daniil Trifonov is “The Next One” – THE Russian pianist-poet for the 21st Century.

Winner of the Grand Prix, First Prize and a Gold Medal in the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 2011, and following performance debuts with the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Mariinsky Orchestra, twenty-one year old Trifonov has already made a lasting impression on piano connoisseurs around the world. No less an authority than the great Martha Argerich herself says of Trifonov “He has everything – and more. What he does with his hands is technically incredible. It’s also his touch – he has tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that.”

Currently resident in New York to give his February 5threcital debut in the world’s most famous concert venue, the Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, Trifonov said: “The highest musical ideals I strove for from childhood were embodied by Deutsche Grammophon and its association with such names as Vladimir Horowitz and Martha Argerich; to be part of this tradition is for musicians a stage for posterity, and for me the greatest possible honor.”

Trifonov’s Carnegie Hall recital debut is bound to be a landmark event. In the past thirty years, Deutsche Grammophon has bestowed the honour of a live Carnegie Hall recording on only two other pianists: Mikhail Pletnev and Lang Lang. Trifonov joins this elite company, sensationally, for his very first recording on the Yellow Label. As Vice President of Artists and Repertoire, Ute Fesquet, commented: “Ever since his performance in the finals of the last International Chopin Competition we have been closely following the breathtaking development of Daniil Trifonov. His complete dedication to music making, the wide range of colours and pure beauty of his playing are irresistible. We are convinced of his extraordinary talent and are delighted to welcome Daniil to the DG family.”

Daniil Trifonov’s debut album on Deutsche Grammophon is set for global release later this year.


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  1. same old. they come and go. DG has some great players

  2. Maybe DG can drop a few of their finger bangers (no names, please) now that they’ve finally signed a real pianist-musician.

  3. Congratulations to both DGG and Daniil Trifonov for exciting prospects and what I hope is a long-lasting relationship!

  4. I think it will be Tchaikowsky B-flat with Gergiev/Mariinsky.

    • Rosana Martins says:

      According to the DG release, Trifonov’s first CD is being recorded tonight: his Carnegie Hall recital. I am very much looking forward to it.
      He played a recital in Rio de Janeiro right after his Tchaikovsky win and it was sensational! He is coming back to Brazil next November, when he will play the Rachmaninov/Paganini in São Paulo and in Rio.

      • Indeed Rosana,

        In São Paulo we will also play a recital on the symphony hall – Stravinsky (Serenate), Ravel (Miroirs), Schoenberg ( 3 pieces op.11) and Schumann (Symphonic Etudes op. 13). It is already selling and according to the sales web site, up to know more than 65% already sold (It is going to be in November 2013).

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Trifonov has already recorded the Tchaikovsky with Gergiev,

    • harold braun says:

      That one is already out on the Marinsky label.

  5. Rosana Martins says:

    Daniil Trifonov is a marvelous pianist and Deutsche Grammophon is to be congratulated for signing him.
    He is the best first prize winner of any competition in a long time!

  6. I imagine he’s quite good, and I look forward to hearing him, but unless he writes a shedload of brilliant, virtuosic original music, HE IS NOT LISZT. I really wish the classical world would stop comparing today’s performers to yesterday’s composers without at least realizing the irony. Yes, Liszt had fabulous technique, but he had a LOT more going for him, and unless this fellow can compose as well as Liszt, any comparison is just void.

    That said, he is probably quite good and I look forward to hearing more from him. I hope he does begin to compose and perform his own music and improvise like Liszt did, and I’m sure his expression and technique are up to any demands that might be placed on them.

  7. Daniil’s first disc for DG will be of his Carnegie Hall recital debut taking place tonight. I have this on good authority – the man himself!

  8. itrinkkeinwein says:

    Deutsche Grammophon lost its luster 20 years ago.

    Today it is just another label, and we all saw the shallow comments made by its boss a couple of weeks ago!

    The fact that Trifonov has already recorded for the intelligently managed Mariinsky label says it all.

  9. Not again says:

    This is pretty terrible news. DG will market him beyond belief and beyond all musical sense. More time on promotional videos than on music making – they will just make another pop star out of him (maybe he wants that?) There was a time when DG was the best classical music label, but that time has long passed…

  10. I just spent probably the most enjoyable 30 musical minutes of my life listening to Daniil Trifonov playing Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 in B minor, op. 58 from the Chopin Competition 2010 in Warsaw. If I were still his age and contemplating a career as a pianist, I’d probably decide to go into computers instead. For me, with this sonata — certainly Chopin’s most ambitious and probably his best work –, there is nothing more to be said. You can say things differently, but certainly not better, than Mr. Trifonov has done here.

    It is so rare to hear someone his age play, and never is anything rushed. His touch fathoms the depths of pppp and ffff without ever producing a hard sound. He understands Chopin’s polyphony, and his stage manner is void of all affectation. One senses his deep involvement with the music, and nothing but the music — there is never anything superficial about his playing. His technical approach, like that of Horowitz, Glenn Gould and many other greats, flies in the face of tradition — My God, what long fingernails he has! His fingers are so flat! His hand position is so strange…

    So what? Listen to what he has to say. Here is the clip:

    And there are many more in the same YouTube channel. I only hope that Deutsche Grammophon lets him record on a Fazioli piano — doesn’t it sound gorgeous under his hands?

  11. Bang Bang says:

    Congratulations – but what is he going to record that has not been heard thousands of times before?
    What is the difference between his playing and the other “intergalactic shooting stars” with “stupendous techniques” and “seminal interpretative powers”?

  12. What took them so long I wonder?!

  13. DrewLewis says:

    How depressing to read those churlish, mean-spirited comments. I was fortunate enough to hear Trifonov play in London this December, and I share Robert Hairgrove’s sense of sharing a life-enhancing experience. That’s the difference between Trifonov and the “shooting stars”.

    • Rosana Martins says:

      I think the best thing to do is to completyely disregard these remarks, most likely made by frustrated people. Trifonov is spectacular in every sense!

  14. @Janis:
    He does compose, and he plans to incorporate some of his own compositions into his future programs, according to a NY Times interview. As to the Liszt comparison, yes, it is hype. But let’s not forget that Liszt at 21 (Trifonov’s current age) had just heard Paganini for the first time. It was only then, and after hearing Chopin, that he started to develop his style as we know it. For example, the first of the three versions of what later became the 12 “Transcendental Etudes” sound remarkably like Czerny — his piano teacher.

    @BangBang: “…what is he going to record that has not been heard thousands of times before?”

    When was the last time you heard Scriabin’s 2nd sonata or Schoenberg’s Op. 11 performed live by a young competition winner?

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