I spent some time with pianist Daniil Trifonov first thing this morning. He’s here at the Verbier Festival regular (the delights of which I’m currently sampling). One of his concerts was last night in which he played one of the three pianos in Mozart’s Concerto for Three Pianos with Daniel Matsuev and – making a rare appearance at the keyboard – Valery Gergiev.
My interview technique follows a tried and tested script, taught me by my radio production tutor Michael Kaye. “Set the device recording, then ask them what they had for breakfast that morning. That usually warms them up.”
Unfortunately, I had to wait at the dining table for Trifonov to return from another interview elsewhere in the hotel. While I waited, I realised that the half-eaten breakfast in front of me was Trifonov’s, making my customary sound-check a little tricky. We concentrated instead on what he had for lunch yesterday: pasta with porcini.
Daniil was, as I had been advised, adorable company. A self-assured, self-possessed individual who articulates his passion for art in speech just as he does at the platform.
He’s playing Prokofiev’s first and third concerto next week at the BBC Proms with Valery Gergiev and the LSO. I asked him about this performance of Prokofiev 1 with Gergiev with the Marinsky Orchestra. “Prokofiev is a sadist in that work. There is no warm up. I’m straight in right at the beginning. There are no passing notes. Everything has to be,” he said as he tapped out the opening phrase on the dining table, “just so.”
It’s not his first time at the Proms. Hence him highlighting its unique atmosphere. “There’s nowhere else like it. It’s an amazing experience.” Trifonov debuted with the Glazunov piano concerto in 2013. “Not many people knew it at the time. I didn’t until I discovered it on You Tube.”
Daniil Trifonov. 25. Rock star. Who wouldn’t want to have a picture taken with him?