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The Boston Globe

Music

Music Review

Daniil Trifonov salutes his musical ancestry

CAMBRIDGE—Daniil Trifonov's Celebrity Series debut at Longy on Friday came accompanied by impressive credentials: notable appearances, a clutch of competition successes—including first prize at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition. But more interesting than his resumé was how the 21-year-old Russian pianist revamped his program (at the last minute, necessitating a program insert) to emphasize his lineage. Pianists like cultivating genealogies of teachers and collaborators; Trifonov's recital was, partially, a splendid assertion of musical ancestry.

One unspoken progenitor: Vasily Safonov, the legendary Moscow professor who taught two of the program's pianist-composers, Alexander Scriabin and Nikolay Medtner, as well as the Gnesin sisters, founders of their own conservatory (of which Trifonov is a graduate). In Scriabin's opulent, oracular Piano Sonata No. 3 and three of Medtner's intricate “Fairy Tales,” Trifonov showed quintessential traits of the Russian Romantic style that Safonov pollinated: emphasizing the music's inner melodic spine while coupling interpretive leeway to harmonic fluctuation, surprising shifts suddenly expansive and hushed, like a change in the wind.

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