The white lettering of Fazioli shone out across the Wigmore Hall.
The foremost pianist of the new generation, winner of the Tchaikovsky competition, is not a Steinway artist. He plays as he pleases. Steinway sometimes, Fazioli when he sees fit and he’s thinking of test-driving the recharged Blüthner.
Last night, he strode out on stage and ripped off a Stravinsky Serenade at speeds and power the composer could never have imagined when he wrote the piece for his own non-virtuosic hands in 1925. Trifonov followed up with shimmering contrasts of Debussy’s Image and four of Ravel’s Miroirs. Later, he chuckled that he had never played the Stravinsky or the Ravel in public before. ‘And the Schumann Symphonic Etudes (after the interval) was only my second time. First was two nights ago in the Concertgebouw.’
I asked him about the encores, vaguely familiar but resisting my attempts to name them. ‘They were my compositions,’ beamed Daniil. ‘Called Rachmaniana, and written in my first years in Cleveland, when I was homesick for Russia.’
At 22 years old, Daniil Trifonov is on a roll of first experiences and not letting them go to his head. For each performance, he picks the piano that best suits his physical needs and won’t be reduced to matchsticks.
The new Fazioli had, it turned out, only been played once before. That was by Boris Giltburg, possibly Trifonov’s only rival in the 20-somethings.
Not good news for Steinway.
Or, as it turned out, for the BBC.