“The Silver Age period of art in Russian history is not a single aesthetic,” says Daniil Trifonov, “but describes an increasingly fractured social, political and intellectual environment.”
In essence, he is talking about the first half of the 20th century. In musical terms this means the generation dominated by Stravinsky and Prokofiev, who both spent long periods away from their Russian homeland and whose music straddled international boundaries.
Trifonov’s new two-disc set, Silver Age, is devoted largely to these two composers. It is clearly designed to make a major statement, including not only key solo piano works and a smattering of smaller rarities, but also two of the most challenging concertos of the period — Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Scriabin’s Piano Concerto.
There is plenty of virtuoso playing to be heard, but the character of Trifonov’s performances is not simply that. Stravinsky’s technically dazzling Three Movements from Petrushka come across precise, detailed, whimsical, rather than an attempt to mirror an orchestral showpiece on the piano. Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 8 similarly is much more than just wartime driving energy.
In the two concertos Trifonov gets wholehearted support from the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev. The Prokofiev is as memorable for its delicate flights of fantasy as in its trenchant power and the Scriabin takes off with tremendous, soaring élan.
‘Silver Age’ is released by DG