February 27, 2018

LA Times Reviews Sergei Babayan and Daniil Trifonov Two-Piano Performance

Daniil Trifonov
Photo credit: Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times

Rick Schultz from the Los Angeles Times reviewed the February 25, 2018, recital given by CIM piano faculty member Sergei Babayan and his former student, Daniil Trifonov (AC ’13, AD ’15). The pair played works for two piano by Schumann, Arvo Pärt, Mozart and Rachmaninoff, as well as an encore arranged by Victor Babin, who was CIM’s director from 1961-72.

Here are a few excerpts from the review:

When a special kind of musical telepathy is required, never underestimate the power of the student-mentor relationship. On Sunday night, virtuoso pianists Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan emphatically displayed a mysterious kind of thought transference in their recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall … the two musicians proved equal partners, a tribute to Babayan's teaching and to Trifonov's astonishing musical intelligence and technique.

Trifonov and Babayan's pianos sounded like a mini-orchestra in a richly rewarding account of Mozart's Sonata in D major (K.448). Of the many felicities during their robust instrumental conversation, an especially memorable moment came when the two pianos sounded in unison in the recapitulation of the opening Allegro's main theme.

More impressive, they showed subtle virtuosity in the seamless interplay between the two pianos in the rhythmically tricky second movement Waltz [from Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 2, Op. 17]. The pianist's energetic Russian-flavored Tarantella finale brought the audience to its feet.

The duo's encore was especially apt: Babin's brilliant arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Dance of the Tumblers." Babin's career (he died in 1972) included serving as president of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where Babayan is artist-in-residence. Trifonov and Babayan's exuberant performance, which in its climactic pounding rhythms evoked "Petrushka," became not only a nod to Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky's teacher, but also a touching tribute to Babin's memory.

Read the full review.