PRELUDE IN A MAJOR, OPUS 28, NO. 7
DANIIL TRIFONOV, PIANO
This minute-long jewel is one of my earliest memories of feeling like I was a PIANIST.
It is also an early memory of connecting with Chopin. Who was this Chopin guy? How did he ever come up with such a beautiful and poignant melody? (I didn’t actually know the word “poignant” when I was eight.)
We had an upright Baldwin Acrosonic piano in our living room, like the one I’ve attached a picture of. I was eight, I had been taking piano lessons for a year or so, and it was late on a Friday evening, maybe 10:00—late night for an eight year old. The only light in the room was from a piano lamp that was sitting on top of the piano, otherwise the room was dark and the house was dark.
My teacher at the time, Harriet Seeberger, was having me learn from the John Schaum books—meaningful information only to pianists, of course, but this was a graded series of piano books, arranged from absolute beginner to early intermediate level. I was probably in book two or three. All the pieces in the book were either written by John Schaum or were his simplified arrangements of famous pieces. All of these pieces were given names by Schaum in order, obviously, to make playing them enjoyable for children.
The A Major Prelude was titled, if memory serves, “Stopping By an Inn on a Winter Evening.” Perhaps Schaum had been inspired by the Robert Frost poem of a similar name. And, there was the requisite drawing of an inn, out in the country somewhere—I presumed in Poland, wherever that was!—with travelers arriving at an inn and walking through snowdrifts to get there.
I felt like practicing this Friday night, so there I was playing the A Major Prelude. Even in its full version, it is only a minute long, and I suppose in the arrangement I was playing, it was even less. But the melody! The melody stays with you forever. Its simple beauty is breath-taking.
This performance is by Daniil Trifinov. At just 26, Russian pianist Trifinov has justifiably become one of the greatest living pianists. Many are already proclaiming him to be one of the great pianists of history. I will certainly be posting other works played by him. For now, enjoy this teaser. He is marvelous. His playing—to me—is like Artur Rubinstein’s—he allows himself to be a conduit for the great composers. Hearing him play is like HEARING Chopin.
The Prelude in A Major was, and is, a piece one does not forget hearing.