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Trifonov describes what he calls the ‘Silver Age’ of Russian cultural history as a fractured social, political and intellectual climate, in which different forms of expression were in ‘agitated interaction’. The repertoire he has chosen here illustrates three artistic approaches: Scriabin, he says, wanted to combine all aesthetic experience in one single mystical vision; Stravinsky expressed his musical creed through the prism of dance; Prokofiev ‘embraced cinema as the most complete and modern synthesis of the senses’.

His sequencing of this double album shows how closely these three composers could mirror one other. The first movement of Prokofiev’s G minor concerto and the lyrical parts of the third owe much to Scriabin in their darkly brooding dissonances. And while the Scherzo of that concerto could almost have been by Stravinsky, Stravinsky’s Serenade in A – briskly chopped up into bite-sized movements so that each could fit onto one side of a 78rpm record – could almost have been by Prokofiev.

Trifonov has excelled himself in these performances. If his delivery of Sarcasms has a scratchy, throw-away virtuosity, his account of ‘Chez Petrushka’ becomes an entrancingly poetic evocation. His rendering of the close of Prokofiev’s Concerto No 2 feels like a stampingly rebellious emancipation from the musical past, and he makes Scriabin’s concerto sound wonderfully improvisatory.

MICHAEL CHURCH Read the full review on Agora Classica


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