When someone wins the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition, you want to hear him. This medal is probably the shiniest, most coveted bauble in the entire realm of musical competition. (No offense to winners of other competitions. As it’s good to be king, it’s good to win, whatever it is.) Daniil Trifonov won the Gold Medal last year. He is a Russian pianist, now twenty-one, as his bio tells us. Bios do that: They give a musician’s age when he is nicely young, and they give it again, often, when he is nicely old. In between, silence, where age is concerned. Trifonov studies with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Babayan is one of the most respected teachers in the world today, in addition to being a very fine pianist, of course, in his own right.

Trifonov appeared with the New York Philharmonic, playing Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3. He has long, straight hair. I couldn’t help smiling as he...