Chopin and His Admirers
No composer is more tightly bound to the piano than Frédéric Chopin (1810–49), and no composer more transformed the instrument. It is not a stretch to claim that without Chopin the entire history of the instrument’s repertory and players would be altogether different. He rethought the very essence of piano writing and playing, recognizing that in its evolution from a “harpsichord that plays loud and soft,” to its iron-framed and steel-stringed incarnation of the mid-Romantic, the piano had become an entirely different instrument that required an entirely different approach.
Composers since Chopin’s day have regularly written homages to this nerve-wracked, frail little man and his paradigm-busting pianism. Figures as lofty as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff have joined hands with lesser (yet warm) lights such as Federico Mompou in writing works that either take a Chopin melody as their starting point, or else incorporate some element of Chopin’s inimitable style. That’s the impetus behind Daniil Trifonov’s program: the first half consists of homages and the second features one of Chopin’s loftiest creations the Second Piano Sonata.