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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Bach: The Art of Life by Daniil Trifonov

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In addition to the sons’ works, Trifonov scales the Mount Everest of Bach compositions, The Art of the Fugue, with power, grace, agility, and subtlety. Trifonov says this exploration was inspired by “some of humanity’s most emotionally rich and fascinatingly sophisticated expressions of music.”

In March 2020, Mona Seghatoleslami saw Trifonov play at Chicago Symphony Hall in a concert that was, it seems, a dress rehearsal for this recording. These were Mona’s thoughts:

Trifonov set everything in its right place: the program opened with Brahms' transcription of Bach's Chaconne for solo violin, played by the pianist's left hand. It then led into the many approaches to the singular theme that make up the puzzle box that is The Art of the Fugue.

We sat in silence as each new canon and fugue unfolded - there was no applause until the end of the first half of the recital. And after the general buzz and chatter of intermission, we reentered Trifonov and Bach's world, as intrigues grew more complex, but the path remained clear with Trifonov as our guide.

But where would we end up? This monumental endeavor, not even possibly a proper whole musical work, is incomplete. In the end, we were guided home in a moment of grace, something old, new, and completely fresh in the moment: Trifonov concluded with Dame Myra Hess's piano transcription of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The dam breaks, and all the pieces fall into place.

That afternoon of March 1st 2020, turned out to be the last live music that I heard in a hall full of fellow listeners for a long time. In the moment, I didn't consider that these were the sounds that would carry me through various moments of personal and societal tragedy and loss. It was "just" an outstanding recital by a pianist who thoroughly captured my attention through the experience, and looking back, it's hard not to think of how it has echoed through my past year and a half of life.

Now to hear that there is a new recording by Trifonov is to be given hope for a return to life and to breathe in these mysteries and moments again and anew with an artist whose vision rings true.

May Daniil Trifonov’s Bach: The Art of Life bring you hope and inspiration, too.