Yeol Eum Son



Poetic elegance, an innate feeling for expressive nuance and the power to project bold, dramatic contrasts are among the arresting attributes of Yeol Eum Son’s pianism. Her refined artistry rises from breathtaking technical control and a profound empathy for the emotional temper of the works within her strikingly wide repertoire. She is driven above all by her natural curiosity to explore a multitude of musical genres and styles and the desire to reveal what she describes as the “pure essence” of everything she performs. Yeol Eum refuses to impose limits on her artistic freedom and remains determined to explore new artistic territory. Her choice of repertoire, which spans everything from the works of Bach and Mozart to those of Shchedrin and Kapustin, is guided chiefly by the quality and depth of the music.

In high demand as recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician, Yeol Eum has won critical plaudits for the profound insights and intelligence of her interpretations. Her development as an all-round artist has gained from collaborations with conductors as diverse as Lorin Maazel, Dmitri Kitajenko, Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Andrew Manze, Jaime Martin, Jun Märkl, Roberto González-Monjas, Jonathon Heyward, Ryan Bancroft, Pablo Gonzalez, Pietari Inkinen, Eivind Aadland, Joana Carneiro,  Anja Bihlmaier, Dima Slobodeniouk, Gergely Madaras, Alexander Shelley and Omer Meir Welber.

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Yeol Eum Son Plays Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor op. 18

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor



“The second work on the program marked the discovery of the young Korean pianist, Yeol Eum Son, gifted with outstanding maturity. Her interpretation of Totentanz (Dance Macabre), S. 126 by Franz Liszt filled the audience with amazement at her clean sound in the dynamic levels, which she resolved with ample mechanical agility.”

“Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son did what she had to do: ‘just’ play the notes to do justice to the sublimated simplicity of Mozart’s Sonata KV 576. Her tempi were natural and her touch crystal clear as a mountain stream.”

De Nieuwe Muze

“Yeol Eum Son is musicality itself, and has the fingers of God… with an innate sense of tactus, and this way of always being between pleasure and emotion…”

Jean-Charles Hoffelé


“Yeol Eum Son is worthy of mention in the same breath as those other standard-bearers in this repertoire, names such as Mitsuko Uchida, Ingrid Haebler, Maria João Pires… this is a rewarding album, worth every penny of its asking price.”

Stephen Greenbank

MusicWeb International

“A wonderful listening experience: Yeol Eum Son’s performance is infused with her distinctive and thoughtful interpretations: lively and stormy in Mozart’s early works; …a kaleidoscope of colours… finding whimsical elan in the more mature works. Very elegant and engaging!”

Naïve – Yeol Eum Son Mozart Complete Piano Sonatas

Nürnberger Nachrichten

“The concerto is widely regarded as being one of the most technically challenging in the standard classical piano repertoire. Yeol Eum Son tackled it head on with a blend of tenacity and panache. The concerto presents many opportunities for virtuosic display. While Yeol Eum Son grabbed these opportunities with alacrity, this was no ostentatious display of pianist prowess. Rather, her playing was measured and contemplative, not least in the first movement cadenza where she controlled and shaped the shifting moods and nuances to mesmerising effect.”

Peter Collins


‘Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son played Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D Minor, K.466, with light, fine-pointed energy and agile precision, the whole buoyed by an engaging musical spirit.’

Peter McCallum

Sydney Morning Herald

“They were joined by the South Korean pianist, Yeol Eum Son, for Salonen’s 2007 three-movement Concerto. Written originally for the Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman, it is consequently robust, physically intense and fiercely virtuosic. Eum Son had no problems making it her own, matching its muscular demands with a gracefulness that was mostly effective in the numerous conversations the soloist engages in with single instruments.”

Ken Walton

Vox Carnyx

“Self-effacingly, Yeol Eum Son placed herself largely at the service and disposition of the musicians she was partnering. Two Brahms readings impressed. A pristine, curvaceously shaped E flat major Clarinet Sonata with Sharon Kam. And a fiery Scherzo from the FAE Sonata with the Bulgarian violinist Svetlin Roussev – young Brahms in tempestuous C minor overdrive, catching one by the throat – hammering motif; noble song; Lutheran chorale. Düsseldorf, Joachim, 1853. Frei aber einsam, ‘Free but lonely’.”

International Piano Live

“Son signed off with exuberant flair in the Sonata No 2 by Ukrainian composer Nikolay Kapustin. It is unadulterated jazz, frenzied improvisation writ large, played here with breathtaking virtuosity and physical abandon. It had its tender moments – a bluesy Largo with super-heated harmonies – but the emphasis was on showmanship, which Son applied full on. She leapt from her stool in the final flurry of madcap glissandi; we all but jumped from our own seats in instant response.”

Ken Walton

Vox Carnyx

“Yeol Eum Son plays magnificently.. showing it in all places where the piano is heard. She breathes nicely in the second part, weaving and wrapping themes. What power and passion from Yeol Eum Son’s playing!”Annmari Salmela

Annmari Salmela

Helsingin Sanomat

“The pianist Yeol Eum Son demonstrated her virtuosity with a powerful sound in the left hand, electrifying in the arpeggios and glissandi. Ravel’s work pleased the audience, as did Yoel Eum Son’s interpretation.”

Michel Thallium


“At first, one feared that her delicacy might prove inadequate to the more barnstorming music that would follow. Those fears were groundless; she was harbouring her strength. In the climax before the cadenza (given here in the extended version that even Rachmaninov feared to play) she rose to the challenge presented by the orchestral tutti. She sprang up from her seat to descend on the keyboard with the full force of her body. From this moment onward, the performance simply rose from one beautifully charged climax to another.”

Paul Corfield Godfrey

Seen and Heard International

“Son is an extraordinary soloist and an immensely expressive performer, drawing the audience in with every movement, from the intense, juddering chords to the glimmering crescendos. There is a real power to her performance that meant that the audience was feeling every note and emotion of the piece right along with her.”

Barbara Hughes-Moore

Get The Chance

“Performing Chopin Piano Concerto No.2, Yeol Eum Son had power and passion, fireworks and drama aplenty, but for me the true magic was in the music’s more introverted passages. The opening of the slow movement was exquisite, with both orchestra and pianist seeming to explore the inner reaches of the soul. This movement was all about the joy of the journey, with the arrival almost an afterthought.”

Jo St Leon

Limelight Magazine

More Reviews

“…The young pianist doesn’t show her virtuosity as flamboyantly as other young musicians because she is entirely wrapped up in interpreting the composer’s ideas. She has a brilliant, crystal clear articulation, typical of which was her bringing out the nimbly pronounced sardonic idea – backed by marvellous orchestral playing, yet again helped by splendid playing from the wind section, with a burnished hue from the brass. The colourful jazz inflections from the contra-bassoon of Brjánn Ingason were shared throughout the orchestra. The march aroused a magical ambience with brilliance from both soloist and orchestra, creating the ultimate burst of colour in the closing bars. As an encore the magnificently gifted Son played Moszkowski’s Valse in E major Op.34, No.1: at last we could hear the Korean’s complete musicality in full!…”

Gregor Tassie, Seen and Heard International

“Next came Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major – this demanding work requires extraordinary concentration and virtuosity from the soloist. Yeol Eum Son impressively proved that she has these qualities with her spirited interpretation. With almost tender touches of the keys, Yeol Eum elicits the slightest sounds from the instrument, only to reach into the keys again in the next moment. The result was an exciting reproduction at the highest level. Therefore, it is not surprising that the pianist is a popular artist in the large concert halls.”

Marco Stücklin, The Opera Magazine

“The whizz-bangs came later. South Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son, who has previously collaborated with Wellber, has gained a reputation as a fine interpreter of Mozart, and on this performance it was easy to see why. Son mixed serenity with calm assertion, with a delicate but confident touch and an almost dream-like quality, particularly in the Andante, while also creating breathing space amongst all of Mozart’s technical intricacies.” (BBC Proms Debut)

Mark Thomas, Bachtrack

“…Son was astonishingly dextrous in Ravel’s one-handed dashes up and down the keyboard, but also balanced a granitic power with a sense of melting poetry, her solo passages exquisitely shaped and delivered with calm conviction…”

David Kettle, The Scotsman

“The pianist Yeol Eum Son’s expressive pedal work, spacious cadenzas and fearlessly fast articulation drew the ears forward to Beethoven’s first and second Piano Concertos, closing the gap between the two composers.”

Anna Picard, The Times

…this stunning performance of his 5th piano concerto with the orchestra led by Andrew Manze, the principal guest conductor, and Yeol Eum Son, the award-winning South Korean soloist, making her debut in Liverpool, was outstanding…Yeol Eum Son throughout demonstrated the technical excellence partnered with lyrical sensitivity that have made her one of the most sought-after concert pianists in a virtuoso performance that was much appreciated by the audience.

– Johanna Roberts, North West End

“Shrouded by the orchestra’s romantic swooshing and whispering, Yeol Eum Son devotes herself to her dreaming, and Kitajenko follows her in absorbing the emotional impulses of the piano with seismographic sensitivity, to transmit the joint pulse, the joint breath to the entire orchestra . A musical experience of the deepest mutual understanding is portrayed, a truly magical moment.”

– von Frederik Hanssen, Der Tagesspiegel

“There were times when the orchestra threatened to crush the delicacy of Yeol Eum Son’s playing in Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, but the Korean pianist bit back with some astonishing playing. The mighty opening cadenza roiled around in the Steinway’s depths and her articulation in the jazzier sections was crisp. Bluesy muted trombone ushered the orchestra into Ravel’s hypnotic, Boléro-like groove, Tortelier leading them with boisterous swagger. Yeol Eum Son entranced in the concerto’s more intimate moments, as she did in her beautifully poised Godowsky encore – also for left hand alone…”

– Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack

…this was a performance of Ravel’s Left-Hand Concerto of great strength, phenomenal (left-hand) technique and complete grasp of the Ravel sound-world.
The rapport between herself and Tortelier was miraculous – and how fabulous were the double bassoon solos, so attractively phrased. But it was Son’s playing that took the breath away, dignified, fluent, creating the most melting of sounds from her Steinway, producing suave glissandi and wondrous pedal-free staccatos. She found, and relished, the jazz overtones of the piece, too, while the cadenza positively glowed…”

– Colin Clarke, Planet Hugill