Pianist Ilya Poletaev, a musician’s musician


As we prepare for this summer, I’ll be chatting with the artists so you can get to know the people behind the music. This week, we begin with Canadian pianist Ilya Poletaev, First Prize at the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, Grand Prize of the Concorso Sala Gallo in Italy, and top prizes at the George Enescu Competition in Bucharest and S.E.H.K.S. harpsichord competition.

Liszt: Sonata in B Minor

Some musicians avoid listening to recordings for fear of their own interpretation being unduly influenced. Ilya, on the other hand, seeks them out. A scholar of historic performances, he is a musician’s musician, fascinated with the history of interpretation and how past players performed the pieces he is working on.

A favorite recording of Ilya’s:
Rachmaninoff perform his own “Lilacs” Op. 21, No. 5

“Stratospheric playing”

Anything with a keyboard is fair game for this protean master, whether it be piano, harpsichord, fortepiano, or chamber organ. He even has a side gig improvising for silent films.

Another favorite recording of Ilya's:
Ignaz Friedman and Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb, Op. 55, No. 2

This summer, we’ll be performing piano quintets by Schumann (happy!) and Schnittke (maybe not so happy…) in addition to violin and piano sonatas by Brahms (the D Minor and A major) with Solenne and Stephanie, and the Liszt Ballade in B Minor for solo piano. In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss his philosophy of music.

David Yang, Artistic Director

Ilya and David in conversation
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