Believe it or not, it wasn’t the piano that started virtuoso pianist Daniil Trifonov on his musical journey. “My parents never forced me to be introduced to piano,” the soft-spoken Russian tells me over the phone from Deutsche Grammophon’s office in Berlin. “Until the age of five, I never showed any signs of interest. We had an upright at the time but I was never exploring it.”

Both of Trifonov’s parents are musicians, so as a listener he was exposed to music early on. “My father is a composer. I remember some of the first music I heard was his works.” That music first sparked young Daniil’s interest. “At one point my father got a synthesiser for his compositional needs – a music keyboard – and that was something which was very consuming,” he explains. “It was this technological device which, for that time, posed a lot of wonders for me.”

Daniil Trifonov. Photo by Dario Acosta/DG

The synthesiser awakened something in the young Trifonov. “I started exploring it – pressing all the buttons – and then I became really interested in actually playing, and a couple of months later I...