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Duo Piano Recital Opens Wassermann Festival at USU

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

promotional illustration for 2014 Wassermann Festival and Concert Series at USU
pianist Sergei Babayan performs at USU at the Wassermann Festival

Sergei Babayan (above) and Daniil Trifonov (below) open the 2014 Wassermann Festival and Concert Series at USU Thursday, March 6, in a duo piano performance. Babayan also conducts a master class March 5 (see story for ticket details).

pianist Daniil Trifonov performs at USU's Wassermann Festival and Concert Series

Daniil Trifonov.

The 2014 Wassermann Festival and Concert Series at Utah State University kicks off with a recital performance by two pianists, Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan, Thursday, March 6. Performance time is 7:30 p.m. at USU’s Performance Hall.

“I don’t believe a duo piano performance has been offered at the Wassermann, at least not in my tenure,” said festival director Dennis Hirst. “The performance promises to be unusual and exciting through both its content and the performers.”

Two pianos will be “nested” on the stage for the recital, allowing the performers to easily communicate and connect.

Both performers are among the finest in what they do, Hirst said.

“Daniil Trifonov has established himself as one of the great, young pianists of the 21st century, and Sergei Babayan is among the noted contemporary teachers who also established himself as a great pianist. Each, in their own right, is the finest at what they do. Currently, Daniil studies with Sergei, so the recital features the ‘instructor’ and ‘student.’”

Trifonov’s biography notes his “spectacular ascent to classical music stardom,” acknowledging his first prize awards at both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions in 2011 at the age of 20.

“Mr. Trifonov has scintillating technique and a virtuosic flair,” a New York Times reviewer said. “He is also a thoughtful artist … he can play with soft-spoken delicacy, not what you associate with competition conquerors.”

Babayan’s critical acclaim as a performer is equally as impressive. He has been hailed for unequaled emotional intensity, bold energy and phenomenal levels of color and imagination. During his early performing career and after his first trip outside the then U.S.S.R., Babayan won consecutive first prizes in several international competitions. The New York Times has praised his “extraordinary technique and ability to play densely harmonized works with illuminating transparency and a daunting measure of control.”

The pair will perform a program that includes a distinctly classical element in its design, especially in the first half, Hirst said. Included is a work by Mozart from the heyday of the Classical period, then a work by Schubert, known as a romanticist but who is still a classicist in many of his concepts. The program opens with Mozart’s Sonata in D Major for Four Hands, K. 381, followed by Fantasie in F Minor, D. 940 by Schubert.

Following intermission, the duo returns for Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite, a work conceived and arranged for two pianos by one of the evening’s performers, Babayan. While the composer has a distinctly 20th century voice, the work also has very classical underpinnings, Hirst said.

“I’m looking forward to this work,” Hirst said. “It is a unique conceptualization of an existing work created by one of the performers who took an orchestral work and adapted it for two pianos.”

The evening’s final selection is Suite No 2, Op. 17 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

“The audience will hear some very familiar music in the suite,” Hirst said. “It will be a nice way to wrap up the program that, by nature of its structure, builds to a satisfying crescendo.”

In addition to the opening recital, the public is welcome to attend any of the festival’s master classes. Tickets are required and can be obtained at the door. The first master class is held Wednesday, March 5, from 7-9 p.m. In the session, Babayan will work with student pianists enrolled in the festival.

Recital tickets are available at the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in the Chase Fine Arts Center, Room 139-B. Reserved seat tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for USU faculty and staff and $12 for students ages 8 and older. Call the box office with questions, (435) 797-8022, or purchase tickets online via the college’s Production Services website.

Detailed information about the Wassermann Festival and Concert Series can be found on the festival’s website.

Related links:

Contact: Dennis Hirst, (435) 797-3257,

Writer: Patrick Williams, (435) 797-1354,

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