Pianist Daniil Trifonov Releases ‘Bach: The Art Of Life’

Pianist Daniil Trifonov’s new album ‘Bach: The Art of Life’ is centred around Johann Sebastian Bach’s late masterpiece ‘The Art of Fugue’.

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Daniil Trifonov photo
Pianist Daniil Trifonov. Photo: Deutsche Grammophon/Dario Acosta

Daniil Trifonov, recently named OPUS KLASSIK 2021 Instrumentalist of the Year/Piano, released his new solo recording, Bach: The Art of Life, today. The album is centred around Johann Sebastian Bach’s late masterpiece, The Art of Fugue, and reflects Trifonov’s insight into the family life and music of one of the greatest composers of all time. Daniil Trifonov explained, “This album is, in many ways, about love: the romantic love between Johann Sebastian and his first and second wives; familial love between parents and their children; and love for the Creator.”

Daniil Trifonov – Bach: Cantata BWV 147: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Transcr. Hess for Piano)

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Bach: The Art of Life

Bach: The Art of Life opens with works by four of Johann Sebastian Bach’s gifted sons: Johann Christian’s Sonata No. 5 in A major, Wilhelm Friedemann’s Polonaise No. 8 in E minor, Carl Philipp Emanuel’s Rondo in C minor and Johann Christoph Friedrich’s Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, maman’. Daniil Trifonov noted, “It’s an incredible parental achievement that four of his children wrote wonderful music! And each had his own individual voice.”

Trifonov has also featured music from the notebook Johann Sebastian gave his second wife Anna Magdalena in 1725, a deeply personal collection of musical vignettes by family members and others. As well as pieces by Bach, probably used for teaching his children, Daniil Trifonov has chosen a Minuet by Christian Petzold and a love song: Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel’s aria Bist du bei mir. He explained, “Bach is known as one of the greatest composers of religious music …but he was also an ordinary human, he fell in love, he was a family man …”

Daniil Trifonov has also included Brahms’ transcription (for the left hand) of Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, originally scored for solo violin, which he describes as “one of the most powerful, sorrowful and tragic pieces ever written.” Bach composed the Chaconne shortly after the death of his first wife, Maria Barbara, and the piece is thought to be a widower’s brooding lament.

The Art of Fugue

The Art of Fugue consists of fourteen fugues and four canons that explore, on a mathematical basis, the contrapuntal possibilities inherent in a single theme. Daniil Trifonov noted this monumental work, “represents the seminal musical expression of Bach’s personal, spiritual, scientific and humanistic knowledge.”

Bach died before finishing The Art of Fugue’s final contrapunctus and for this recording Trifonov, also an accomplished composer, has created a seamless, stylistically respectful conclusion worthy of Bach’s genius.

Daniil Trifonov’s new album Bach: The Art of Life ends with a performance of Dame Myra Hess’s transcription of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, a reminder that, for Bach and his contemporaries, “music was another embodiment of nature and natural laws, and mathematics and science were also thought to be part of a divine order”.

Daniil Trifonov, “one of the world’s most remarkable pianists” (Los Angeles Times), was recently named OPUS KLASSIK 2021 Instrumentalist of the Year/Piano for Silver Age, his double album featuring music by Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Scriabin. He will accept the prestigious honour and perform at the awards ceremony, at the Berlin Konzerthaus, on Sunday 10 October which will be televised by OPUS Klassik’s media partner ZDF at 10.15pm (CET).

Daniil Trifonov’s new album Bach: The Art of Life can be bought here.

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