A Concert to Remember: Ilya Itin at Richardson Auditorium
By Zsolt Bognar
I grew up collecting recordings of Debussy’s Preludes, especially the second book. I had many favorites–crystalline Michelangeli on DG, Zimerman (up to a point), a brooding Richter live in Spoleto 1967, and sweeping flow from Gieseking. In my estimation, none of those accounts came close to reaching the sonic and musical imagination and rich detail afforded by pianist Ilya Itin at his recital at Richardson Auditorium on Thursday night. It seemed that the pianist in question was casting a spell over the audience with a sense of discovery, narrative surprises, and organic blending of pedal and acoustic planes. Pianistically brandishing astonishing control and command throughout, and his highlighting of harmonic shifts seemed to emphasize departures from the expected. I don’t think I shall soon hear a greater performance of Debussy in my life. I and others in the audience had an edge-of-seat experience of what I can only describe as musical wizardry.
The Liszt selections in the second half were trenchant and harrowing readings, astonishing in their darkness, contrapuntal emphasis, and pianistic finish. The effect was somewhat analogous to the broad cinematic tableaux of Andrei Tarkovsky–unfolding in a carefully sculpted narrative, culminating in a beauty that is at once majestic and devastated. The Rachmaninov G Major Prelude encore seemed otherworldly and almost as though not on the piano at all, but a celebration of nature and a melancholic love of life.
— David Patrick Sterns, Philadelphia Inquirer
— Nancy Plum, Town Topics, Princeton, New Jersey
— Zsolt Bognar: Blogger, Creator “Living the Classical Life”, with Stephen Hough
"Itin's approach was emphasizing what the notes say (as opposed to how they sound)… the final movement's depiction of the mythical, demonic Scarbo was malevolent bordering on terrifying. Undoubtedly, Itin is a major pianist, with an ease about him that makes you want to listen to him for hours."
— The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 2012, Full Review
"Ilya Itin — a brilliantly insightful pianist who offered a superb recital of the complete Chopin preludes, Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" and a new work by Yehudi Wyner on Saturday…"
— The New York Times, July 19, 2012, Full Review
"A Memorable Performance..."
— Alejandro Fernández / Music Critic, Download Review
"Ilya Itin performs explosive wartime Prokofiev..."
— Alan Becker, South Florida Classical Review, Download Review
"...I'd go and hear him play the phonebook..."
— BBC TV
"His interpretation was beautiful and clear, he let the music breathe.... He left no doubt in his virtuosity and musicality.... The result was a triumphant success."
— Wiener Zeitung (Vienna, Austria)
"The perfect pianist, Ilya Itin succeeded in transforming the romantic revelry of Rachmaninov's 3rd piano Concerto into rhythmic force and compactness."
— Der Standard (Vienna)
"There was no doubt that Itin was the outstanding performer, with a wonderful range of color, a truly imaginative way with texture and phrasing, and a supreme technical command."
— The Guardian (London, England)
"A pianist of formidable accomplishment..."
— The Times (London)
"Itin is a master : his tone graded to the tiniest detail and embued with wide expressive range indeed."
— The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
"...pianist Ilta Itin illuminated the concerto he played with unquestionably perfect technique and sensitive understanding of the art (music)."
— Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin, Germany)
— New York Times (USA)
"A delicious and rare talent..."
— The Washington Post (USA)
"He plays marvelously with all his body and soul: a very gifted pianist and musician."
— Le Figaro
Interviews in publications in Japan: