“Among the most significant pianists of his generation” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), Ilya Poletaev captured First Prize at the prestigious 2010 International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig and, as the winner, appeared in recital at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. A pianist with an inquisitive mind who explores a wide range of repertoire ranging from the 16th–21st centuries, Mr. Poletaev leads a multifaceted career as both a classically trained pianist and as a performer on early keyboards. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his concerto debut in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (in both C.P.E. Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, Wq. 23 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor with Symphony in C) as “an interpretation of considerable individuality,” singling out his “lively imagination” and “unfailingly gorgeous tone.” The Berkshire Eagle has said, “An expert harpsichordist, he played Bach on the piano as well as any I have heard…All that he played was deeply considered…His intelligence was luminous.”
In the last year, Mr. Poletaev played in solo at the Pyatt Hall of VSO School of Music, with an exquisite program of Bach, Shostakovich and Schumann. Activities in 2013-14 include Bach concertos with the Orchestra of St. Paul’s, a performance with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, and an eight-city tour performing the complete Book II of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, which Mr. Poletaev performs on both modern piano and historical keyboards. His two-volume recording of the complete works of George Enescu for violin and piano, with violinist Axel Strauss, have just been released on the Naxos label.
Concerts to come this season, Mr. Poletaev will play in solo at Music Toronto and will make his debut in Philadelphia, with a program around Enescu, Bach and Schumann.
Among his recent activites, Mr. Poletaev gave an acclaimed performance at the Caramoor Festival with renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under David Robertson. Other recent performances include Medtner’sPiano Concerto No. 3 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Peter Oundjian, solo appearances at Germany’s prestigious Klavier-Festival Ruhr and Dresdner Musikfesttäge, Leipzig BachFest, and the Potsdam Musikfestspiele, a concerto performance at the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, and recitals at Italy’s Festival Lago Maggiore, the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Ilya Poletaev was the First Prize winner of the XX Concorso Sala Gallo Piano Competition in Monza, Italy, where he also received the Audience Prize, the Bach Prize, and the Orchestra Prize. A prizewinner at the 2011 George Enescu International Competition in Bucharest, he also captured First Prize at the 2009 Grieg International Competition, and was a laureate of the 2008 National Stepping Stone Competition in Canada. As a harpsichordist, Mr. Poletaev was a top prizewinner at the 2007 Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society harpsichord competition, and has been heard in such venues as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Pierpont Morgan Library, the Helicon Foundation, the Aston Magna Early Music Festival, the Amherst Early Music Festival, and Yale’s Collection of Musical Instruments. As a continuo player, he has performed under Masaaki Suzuki, Andrew Lawrence-King, Steven Stubbs, Nicholas McGegan, Simon Carrington, Graham O’Reilly, Matthias Maute, and Helmuth Rilling.
Also an avid chamber musician, Mr. Poletaev has performed alongside such distinguished artists as Robert Mann, Donald Weilerstein, Gary Hoffmann, Boris Berman, Paul Hersh, Susan Narucki, John Holloway, Yegor Dyachkov and Miah Persson. He has appeared at the Chamber Music NorthWest, Moab, Sarasota, Norfolk, Yellow Barn, Banff, and Orford music festivals, and his performances and interviews have been broadcast on WQXR, NPR, CBC, and Radio-Canada in North America, and Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, MDR, NDR, and WDR in Germany.
Mr. Poletaev began studying in Moscow at the age of six and continued his studies in Israel until he moved to Canada at the age of 14. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, where he studied with pianist Marietta Orlov and harpsichordist Colin Tilney, as well as a doctorate and Master’s degree from Yale, where he studied with Boris Berman. From 2005–2010 he also served on the faculties of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Yale Department of Music, and the Yale School of Music, as a lecturer in Early Music. In 2011, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Piano at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. A dedicated teacher, he has given numerous masterclasses and talks on performance practice in many of the world’s prestigious music schools, including the San Francisco Conservatory, the Buchman-Mehta Music Academy in Tel-Aviv, the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem, the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and the Conservatorio di Milano.
Updated: October 2016
Ilya Poletaev began studying the piano in Moscow at the age of six and continued his studies in Israel until he moved to Canada at the age of 14. He studied piano and harpsichord at the University of Toronto and holds a Master’s degree from Yale, where he studied with Boris Berman. Poletaev currently teaches at McGill University’s Schulich School. He has won countless awards for both piano and harpsichord and tours and performs worldwide. His recording of the complete works of George Enescu for violin and piano, with violinist Axel Strauss, received great critical acclaim. He is an Astral Artist Laureate.
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