"Mr. Yakushev can just do about anything he wants." — The New York Times
"Sergei Prokofiev was still the ostensible headliner in Davies Symphony Hall over the weekend, as Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony wound up their two-week festival devoted to his music. But the big news was the astonishing tripartite debut of pianist Ilya Yakushev, who single-handedly turned the end of the festival into something unforgettable." — San Francisco Chronicle
"TOP 10 CLASSICAL MUSIC EVENTS OF THE YEAR - The young Russian pianist made an astounding triple debut as part of the San Francisco Symphony's Prokofiev Festival, playing the First Concerto, the Fourth Concerto and the Seventh Sonata with vigor and virtuosity." — San Francisco Chronicle
"An exuberantly outsized performance . . . a winning blend of rapturous lyricism and dramatic flair."— San Jose Mercury News (California Symphony)
"A wonderful combination of delicacy and fire . . . dizzying vigor . . . an exuberant coda."— Morning Call (Reading, PA)
"Yakushev moved through the 24 variations of the [Rachmaninoff] Rhapsody with some good-natured showmanship and enviable ease, leaving himself enough time to make eye contact with audience and orchestra every now and then. His pianism was energetic, witty and playful and the contrasts he created between the lighter and gloomier variations were profound . . . he rewarded the audience with a dreamy encore piece by Chopin." — San Francisco Classical Voice
"Without a doubt, the most engaging portion of the evening was Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring Ilya Yakushev . . . Yakushev's performance was charismatic and energetic and he held these disparate parts together with great humor, even across some fiendishly difficult passages. Yakushev also carried the other crowd-pleaser of the evening, Gershwin's 1924 Rhapsody in Blue. Here again he showed a talent for milking the piece for all its expensive twists and turns . . ." — Madison.com
"Saturday night, pianist Ilya Yakushev tore up the keyboard and lifted the audience onto its collective feet with a bravura performance of one of the toughest concerti (Prokofiev 2nd) in the repertoire." — The Arkansas Democrat Gazette
"The Maestro built this program with a showman's sensibility, saving the best for last with Yakushev's passionate embrace of [Rachmaninoff's 2nd Concerto]. Usually, it is preferable to be seated where you can watch a piano soloist's hands. But it a pleasure to be facing Yakushev and witnessing how absorbed he was, not only in the piano challenge the composer presented him, but also in the work the orchestra was doing behind him." — Copious Notes
"When Ilya Yakushev began [Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto] the rumbling passion that issued from the keyboard and infused the orchestra came as a relief . . . a beautiful performance [that] brought to mind Elton John." — Times Union (Schenectady, NY)
"Musical pyrotechnics reached stratospheric heights [in] Mendelssohn's hyper-virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 1 . . . Ilya Yakushev generated clouds of notes at a stunning rate, yet each run, cascade, torrent seemed perfectly articulated . . . everything leaned forward to the madcap sprint in the final movement with Yakushev fire-walking up and down the keyboard and ultimately yanking the audience to a standing, cheering ovation."— The Telegram (Worcester, MA)
"Electrifying . . . [in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 2] Yakushev pounced on his instrument like a wild Siberian tiger, his thundering open chords crisp and exact . . . impressive tonal range and ability to turn on a kopeck between imperative gesture, that invokes the music's dramatic passion, and delicate lyricism . . . The third section Allegro con fuoco teems with life and joy. So, too, did Yakushev who, as an innate showman, clearly enjoys performing this work. His animated delivery included playing — pun intended — with the orchestra as they traded short musical riffs back and forth. At the end of his performance . . . the audience immediately leapt to their feet for the Russian dynamo." — Winnipeg Free Press
"IN FAMILIAR MUSIC, A PIANIST SHOWS WHAT HE CAN DO [HEADLINE] . . . 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." — The New York Times
"This is not the first time Yakushev has filled in on short notice. Fans may recall a similar scene in 2008 when, with 24 hours' notice, he played Prokofiev's Third Concerto' under Keith Lockhart . . . His interpretation was lively without being manufactured and precise without losing style." — Desert News (Salt Lake City)
"We heard things that are usually lost, with interplay between orchestra and piano that sounded like fine chamber music. Yakushev, whose playing shares a spiritual quality with his mentor, Vladimir Feltsman, alternated power with a silken touch; his eloquent playing ranged from the cataclysmic to the poetic, with many passages of extreme beauty. The audience . . . leapt to their feet at the last notes. Yakushev played a Bach piece, like a prayer, as an encore." — Reading (PA) Eagle
"Mr. Yakushev . . . cultivates a fiery, impetuous persona . . . [he played Prokofiev's first and second sonatas] with both energy and brash humor, and in Schumann's 'Carnaval' collection, he was febrile, ready to pounce but delicate in the gently fluttering 'Reconnaissance.'"— The New York Times
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 has performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (New York); Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco); Glinka Philharmonic Hall in his native St. Petersburg, Russia; Victoria Hall (Singapore); and Sejong Performing Arts Center (Seoul, South Korea), among countless others. He has performed with orchestra including the San Francisco Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Rochester Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, and many others.
This season, Ilya appears as piano soloist with the symphony orchestras of New Haven, El Paso, Dubuque, La Crosse, Lake Forest, and the Glacier Symphony. He performed at several prestigious summer music festivals in 2016, including Maverick Concerts (NY), Bellingham Festival of Music (WA), Summer Music from Greensboro (VT), and International Keyboard Institute & Festival (New York City), and played recitals in Worcester, MA and Lee University (Cleveland, TN).
Highlights of Yakushev’s 2015-16 season included a return engagement with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, as well as performances with the Reading and Fairfield County Symphonies. He also played recitals in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.
In 2014, the British label Nimbus released his CD “Prokofiev Sonatas Vol. 1.” The 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.” Volume 2 was released in January 2017.
Winner of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati in 2005, Ilya received his first award at age 12 at the Young Artists Concerto Competition in 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. Ilya was a recipient of the prestigious Gawon International Music Society Award in Seoul, Korea.
Ilya attended the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia, and subsequently came to New York City to attend Mannes College of Music where he studied with legendary pianist Vladimir Feltsman.
He is a Yamaha artist.