Ilya Yakushev, Pianist
Soloist Who Stepped in at Last Minute in July Returns after Brilliantly Received Performance
March 19, 2017, 3:00 PM
Western Washington University Performing Arts Center
Western Washington University Box Office (coming in January)
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev, with many awards and honors to his credit, continues to astound and mesmerize audiences at major venues on three continents. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2007 with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, performing Prokofiev’s First and Fourth Piano Concertos as part of the Symphony’s “Prokofiev Festival.” His performances were included in the top ten classical music events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, and prompted a return to the Symphony in September 2009 with Maestro Tilson Thomas performing Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto.
The highlights of Yakushev’s 2014-15 season included return appearances with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and Brevard Music Center Orchestra. He also performed with the La Crosse Symphony, Pensacola Symphony, and Saratov Philharmonic.
In September 2014 Mr. Yakushev became a member of the St. Petersburg Piano Quartet, which performs extensively around the United States.
In February 2014, British label Nimbus Records published “Prokofiev by Yakushev Vol. 1” CD. American Record Guide wrote “Yakushev is one of the very best young pianists before the public today, and it doesn’t seem to matter what repertoire he plays – it is all of the highest caliber”.
In past seasons, he has performed in various prestigious venues worldwide, including Glinka Philharmonic Hall (St. Petersburg), Victoria Hall (Singapore), Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (New York), Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco), and Sejong Performing Arts Center (Seoul, Korea). His performances with orchestra include those with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Rochester Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, and many others.
Winner of the 2005 World Piano Competition which took place in Cincinnati, OH, Mr. Yakushev received his first award at age 12 as a prizewinner of the Young Artists Concerto Competition in his native St. Petersburg. In 1997, he received the Mayor of St. Petersburg’s Young Talents award, and in both 1997 and 1998, he won First Prize at the Donostia Hiria International Piano Competition in San Sebastian, Spain. In 1998, he received a national honor, The Award for Excellence in Performance, presented to him by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation in Moscow. Most recently, Mr. Yakushev became a recipient of the prestigious Gawon International Music Society’s Award in Seoul, Korea.
Mr. Yakushev attended the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music in his native St. Petersburg, Russia, and subsequently came to New York City to attend Mannes College of Music where he studied with legendary pianist Vladimir Feltsman.
Anne Midgette writing in The New York Times said: “Mr. Yakushev can do just about anything he wants. In the Haydn that meant finding in a Steinway the tinkling, busy-sounding alter ego of its predecessor, the fortepiano, a quality that resounded through the fast passagework of the first and third movements, though it yielded to a dark, mellow romanticism in the second. In the notoriously difficult Prokofiev Sonata No. 7, the instrument took on a whole different character, ringing and martial yet tinged with this composer’s brand of lighthearted irony. Mr. Yakushev showed superb control, bringing the music to the brink of hysteria and the piano’s capacity for noise making, without ever letting it get away from him. And he was able to make a repeated single note resound more pointedly than the fabric of quieter chords surrounding it. He also showed a consistent gentleness, a fluid touch even in forceful passages that let the music flow with legato and smoothed its edges, though it didn’t mask them.”