Ilya Kondratiev’s “pyrotechnic showmanship” in Vicenza

Published 28 January 2019  Review

Kondratiev technically perfect in Chopin but more convincing when playing Liszt

The musician reveals great technical ease with his pyrotechnic showmanship.

Il Giornale di Vicenza, 17.01.2019

Eva Purell (English translation by Christopher Axworthy). The original article (in Italian) is available on the Il Giornale di Vicenza website.


Sometimes a detail can make all the difference. Like the two red socks of Soviet effect that were worn with graceful ease by a virtuoso of the keyboard who had demonstrated not only a tendency for theatricality but also remarkable interpretative insights.

On the other hand the concert for the “Incontro sulla Tastiera”that opened the new season of 2019 was organised in partnership with “The Keyboard Charitable Trust of London”, an established preparation on the International music scene that is recognised as one of the finest. Founded and directed by the pianist Noretta Conci, formerly Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli’s assistant, and her husband John Leech. The Trust has as its main aim to help greatly talented young pianists by giving them important platforms and opportunities world wide.

Thanks to this partnership in Vicenza with the “Incontro” presided over by Enrico Hullweck and directed by Mariantonietta Righetto Squeglia we have been able to appreciate many highly talented pianists.

This year on Tuesday evening in the “Ridotto” of the Teatro Comunale it was the turn of the 31 year old Russian pianist Ilya Kondratiev. The biography of this young “dandyish” pianist showed his predilection, which was well demonstrated, for Franz Liszt, the inventor of the piano as we know it today.

The recital of Kondratiev opened with the Chopin Polonaise known as the “Heroique”, that for many is “THE” polonaise of Chopin as if he had not written any others. It is a work that suffers from its own popularity, that in every interpretation it can seem to be a rather overplayed showpiece and the Russian pianist did not shy away from the technical demands either. 

It is probably the Mazukas, more than the Polonaises, in Chopin that express his love and longing for his homeland and are his most authentic testimony.

The Russian in the first half of his programme dedicated to Chopin the four Mazukas op 24 amongst the least dense of the complete set. Adding to this homage the Scherzo n.1 op 20 in B minor and n.3 op 39 in C sharp minor showing off all his technical baggage,in parts with a crystal clear clarity almost like in Scarlatti.

His touch was both refined and varied helped by the warm sound of a dear old friend that is Bosendorfer of which the listeners ears are not as accustomed as they are to the full and brilliant sound of a Steinway.A particular choice that was made by the interpreter which showed remarkable originality.

From the expressive confessions of Chopin in the first part,Kondratiev passes to the virtuosistic showmanship and the full, rhythmic sounds of Liszt. “Years of Pilgrimage Book 2” with his impressions after his travels in Italy. And with this interpretation our Russian is really convincing showing off his technical ease with a kaleidoscopic palate of sounds and loving contrasts especially in the Petrarc Sonnets. A brilliant performance greeted by an ovation from the numerous public present.

As a thank you for a beautiful concert dedicated by the Incontro to the memory of the business woman Fernanda Muraro Detto, Ilya offered the Liszt transcription of a Lied by Schubert”Gretchen am Spinnrade.”

Eva Purelli (translation: Christopher Axworthy)