Accompanimsts are mostly ignored in recital reveiws, relegated to the signing off paragaraph. Graham Johnson usually gets a little more attention as he often assembles the programme, writes the notes in the CD booklet, and even announces encores. Ivari Ilja however grabbed Hilary Finch’s attention and was rewarded with an introductory paragraph mention in The Times:
The Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is certainly a hard act to upstage. Yet the Estonian pianist Ivari Ilja all but succeeded in doing just that at their latest Barbican recital. That’s not quite fair, because any accompanist who upstages is not doing his job. But the ear was constantly drawn to the sheer perfection of partnership, and to the sentient sympathy and outstanding pianism of Ilja.
It was Ilja’s nimble fingers, for example, which gave voice to the tremulous heartbeat of nature and of love in Fauré’s Sylvie, and which propelled the pounding passion of that Fleur jetée, when Hvorostovsky’s baritone still sounded a little dry, a little too far back in the throat.