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This is actually two discs in one box from two companies (one Decca, one Deutsche Grammophon). The all-Chopin CD 2 is the Decca release. The first four items of this disc reveal a pianist unafraid to mix familiar with less so; to extract a single Etude (Op 10 No 8 in F major) and set it against a larger expanse. So it is that the teasing Rondo à la mazur, in a wonderfully fluent, spontaneous performance, is set against the Op 18 Grande valse brillante in a reading that mixes delicious hiatus with a properly leggeiro touch.

The Etude is light and technically amazing but perhaps not fantastical, very much a study through and through: deliberately so, perhaps, to contrast with the Andante spianato that follows. Perhaps only Zimmerman (Deutsche Grammophon) cuts closer to the heart of the matter, but Trifonov has an easy fluency.

The three Mazurkas Op 56 act as an eloquent preface to a fine Chopin Third Sonata. Here, the twilit, gentle first movement and the mesmeric Largo, with its finely judged sense of light and shade, speak of a maturity one rarely associates with the concept of the super-virtuoso.

But the real riches of this set lie in the Carnegie recital (CD 1). The Scriabin Sonata Op 19 finds Trifonov playing as if he breathes this music, his articulation miraculous, only eclipsed by his projection of the very soul of the music. His Liszt Sonata S 178 is one of the finest, and absolutely in the tradition of the likes of Lazar Berman. The infernal side of Liszt is to the fore, yet there is lyricism aplenty. Trifonov is an unstoppable force here; he is more reflective in the account of the Chopin Preludes that follows. A flighty Medtner Fairy Tale is a great encore.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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