Yeol Eum Son
Artistic Director – Music in PyeongChang
Artist in Residence – Het Residentie Orkest (20/21 season)
Yeol Eum Son’s graceful and timeless interpretations, crystalline touch and versatile, thrilling performances have caught the attention of audiences worldwide. Praised for her widely eclectic concerti repertoire, ranging from Bach, all-Mozart, early German and Russian Romantic to Gershwin and Ligeti, Yeol Eum has collaborated with major ensembles worldwide such as Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Dresdner Philharmoniker, The Tonkunstler Orchestra at the Grafenegg Festival, Bergen Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Seoul Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Moscow Virtuosi among many others.
Yeol Eum performs with conductors such as Dmitri Kitayenko, Valery Gergiev, Vasily Petrenko, Vladimir Spivakov, Andrew Manze, Susanna Mälkki, Omer Meir Wellber, Cristian Măcelaru, Pietari Inkinen, Jonathan Nott, Mikko Franck, Nicholas Collon, Joshua Weilerstein, Joana Carneiro, Pablo González, Case Scaglione, Roberto González-Monjas and Yan Pascal Tortelier.
Across the 20/21 season Yeol Eum serves as Artist in Residence with the Residentie Orkest from the Hague. In front of the Dutch audience and under the baton of conductors Nick Collon, Pablo González and Joshua Weilerstein, Yeol Eum presents a selection of some of the finest concerti of the piano repertoire including Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Beyond Zuiderstrandtheater in the Hague, her residency will take her to some of the major venues across the Netherlands including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Apeldoorn’s Orpheus and Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg, Yeol Eum also gives a recital at the Hague’s Nieuwe Kirk and a Masterclass at the Hague’s conservatory.
In summer 2019 Yeol Eum made her Royal Albert Hall and BBC Proms debut with the BBC Philharmonic interpreting Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15. Her most recent debut with the Liverpool Philharmonic (Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto) was met with high acclaim for which Johanna Roberts wrote: 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. During her recent UK tour with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Yeol Eum returned to London’s Cadogan Hall and debuted at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and at Basingstoke’s the Anvil Concert Hal (Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the left hand). Following her hugely successful debut with Aurora orchestra earlier in 2019, Yeol Eum was instantly re-invited and features as a soloist on their March 2020 tour under Nick Collon (Mozart Piano Concerto No.23) with concerts taking place at King’s Place in London as well as at St George’s concert hall in Bristol and at the Apex concert hall in Bury St Edmunds. Yeol Eum subsequently makes her debut with Aurora Orchestra at the opening of the Heidelberger Frühling festival.
A distinguished Mozart interpreter, in the recent concert seasons, Yeol Eum made major UK debuts with the CBSO in Birmingham (Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21) and at London’s Cadogan Hall with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (Mozart’s Piano Concerti No’s 8 & 21). Her London debut coincided with Onyx CD release of a highly acclaimed all-Mozart recording featuring Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21 with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner for whom it was the very last recording. According to The Times Yeol Eum Son is a model of clarity and fleetness whilst Gramophone called the recording an uncommonly fine Mozartian debut.Read more
Further concerti debuts across the 19/20 season and beyond include collaborations with Budapest Festival Orchestra (Rachmaninov No. 2); West Australian Symphony Orchestra (Mozart No. 21); New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (Mozart No. 27); St Paul Chamber Orchestra (play-direct of Beethoven No.4); Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Beethoven No.4); Liège Philharmonic (Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue and Variations on I got Rhythm); Helsinki Philharmonic (Yashiro Piano Concerto); WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne at the RadiRo Festival in Bucharest (Rachmaninov No. 2); Philharmonie de Paris debut with Orchestre National d’Île-de-France (Rachmaninov No.2); RTVE Symphony Orchestra (Szymanowski Sinfonia Concertante) and a tour of Belgium with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra (Liszt No.1). Following her previous successful collaborations, Yeol Eum returns to Gävle Symphony Orchestra (Chopin No.2), Bergen Philharmonic (Rachmaninov No.2), Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne (Prokofiev No.2) and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken (Prokofiev No.3).
A sensitive, emotional and powerful recitalist, Yeol Eum gives frequent solo and chamber performances across the globe. Most recent recitals include debuts with San Francisco Chamber Music Society, The Phillips Collection in Washington DC, Helsingborg Piano Festival, International Piano Series Fribourg, Istanbul Recitalleri, Moscow’s House of Music, Welsh debut at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Scottish recital debut at the East Neuk Festival for which The Scotsman presides Yeol Eum for having found that vital emotional connection with the music and physically embracing its raw energy and dynamic extremes with ferocious virtuosity. In the 19/20 season and beyond Yeol Eum makes recital debuts in Luzerne’s KKLSaal, Bern’s Paul Klee Centre, Porto’s Casa da Música, Belgrade’s Kolarac Concert Hall and at the Tallin Piano Festival.
An avid chamber musician, in 2018 Yeol Eum was appointed Artistic Director of Music in PyeongChang, the biggest music festival in her native Korea. Yeol Eum is responsible for programming both summer and winter festivals at the Olympic site in PyeongChang. Further chamber highlights in 2020 include appearances at Philharmonie Cologne for collaborations with the principle players from WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 arranged for Piano and String Quintet) and with Quatuor Modigliani.
Yeol Eum’s new releases include two DECCA albums: recital CD Modern Times- featuring solo piano music written between 1910-1920 by Berg, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Ravel, and Schumann and Brahms CD with violinist Clara-Jumi Kang. Previous albums include debut CD of complete Chopin Etudes (2004); Chopin Nocturnes for Piano and Strings (2008); prize-winning Cliburn Competition live performance (2009) and a multi-channel SACD O’ New World Music (2012).
Yeol Eum is Honorary Ambassador of the Seoul Arts Center and her home city of Wonju. A double Second Prize winner at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in 2011 and at the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, Yeol Eum Son was a student of Arie Vardi at the Hochschule für Musik Theater und Medien Hannover in Germany, where she now lives. She holds a degree from the Korean National University of Arts.
Yeol Eum Son to Make Liverpool Debut, Embarks on UK Tour with Yan Pascal Tortelier and Iceland Symphony Orchestra February 2020
Yeol Eum Son’s February 2020 includes her much anticipated debut and tour in The UK. The German-based, South Korean born pianist will make her debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, under conductor Andrew Manze, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto...
Pianist Yeol Eum Son will join the Flanders Symphony Orchestra and conductor Adrien Perruchon on their 18 – 30 January tour of Belgium. The award-winning artist will perform Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Ms Son has earned praise for her interpretations of the...
Yeol Eum Son is making her debut with the BBC Proms staring in BBC Prom 7. Yeol Eum Son’s graceful and timeless interpretations, crystalline touch and versatile, thrilling performances have caught the attention of audiences worldwide so it’s no surprise...
… 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…
…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!…
…It is also a piece (Ravel for the Left Hand) that is very eloquent with the bass sonorities of the orchestra — double bassoon, bass clarinet and the string basses — as well as the lower notes of the keyboard. All of this was exquisitely clear in a wonderful performance by the soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra…
…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…
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.
…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.
“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)
“Son’s execution of the solo part was sparkling” (BBC Proms Debut)
“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.”
“Yeol Eum Son… played with a dazzling range of dynamics, patiently giving each musical idea a semi-improvisatory spontaneity… With the first piece [Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales] she took the listener by the collar and never let go, ranging from wispy and mysterious to a murky haze of sound in the smoky final waltz… Her showmanship came to the fore in the final work, Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz No. 1, played with booming power and devilish ferocity in the cackling multi-trills and gossamer right-hand runs.”
“Yeol Eum Son, a model of clarity and fleetness… a winning album all round.” – Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 (Onyx)
“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.”
“Yeol Eum Son broke through the amazing harmony of Prokofiev again and again, proving an astonishing dexterity, which allowed to let off steam in endless cadences. The pianist even maintained a touch of Chopinean elegance – a touch only, otherwise the powerful virtuoso would certainly dominate this deluge of sound.”
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten
“She certainly impresses, as the Variations are played with style and affection…K330 is perfectly poised in tempo and phase, expressive throughout…”
“The final toccata was dazzling, a preface to a simply phenomenal performance of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces from Petrushka. Son thunders the big, roof-raising stuff but interlaces it with crisp chords and single lines that get to the heart beneath the wood of Stravinsky’s tragic puppet. Her opening Gershwin was immensely likeable, too, laid-back but not without the necessary freedom of the right hand above the ragtime left. The encore, Moszkowski’s Etincelles (Sparks), a Horowitz favourite, was a perfect butterfly to conclude.”
The Arts Desk
“…a Chopin concert at the Aachen Musikhochschule, where the South Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son excelled…. The variations [in E major] on the song “Der Schweizerbub” passed splendidly and elegantly… A challenge for the pianist, who not only proved to be a consummate virtuoso, but interpreted every piece [24 Préludes op. 28] in a highly sensitive and often oppressively intense way….”
“The last was a dazzling tour de force [Stravinsky Three Movements from Petrushka], Yeol Eum finding that vital emotional connection with the music and physically embracing its raw energy and dynamic extremes with ferocious virtuosity. The encore – Moskowski’s effervescent Etincelles – was just as captivating, just as virtuosic.”
“Yeol Eum Son plays the concerto [Mozart Piano Concerto No 21] with a lightness and freedom that is most appealing…The broad and colourful Variations in C major on a theme by Nicolas Dezede ‘Lison dormait’ K264 is performed with a sassy cuteness and her playing is at times playful, energetic, jovial, subdued, flashy, vigorous and joyful as befits the variations… Yeol Eum brings the piece [Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K330] to life with neatly sprung rhythms, and inflects the piece with a splendid range of keyboard touch and appropriate colour… This is one of the finest debut discs I have recently encountered.”
“This is an uncommonly fine Mozartian debut.”
“Marvellous, intense and boundlessly virtuosic…from the first crystal clear notes of Liszt’s La Leggierezza, pianist Yeol-Eum Son captured her audience. …[she] conjures joy and sophistication through her magical and expressive playing.”
“Her phrasing was delicate, unhurried… She managed to emphasis the graceful playfulness of the first movement Allegro maestoso, while introducing something more profound in the Andante. Her touch was elegant and restrained, resisting the urge to dominate.”
“This evening’s concert is a sort of rehearsal with a beautiful discovery, the young pianist Yeol Eum Son, winner of the Tchaikovsky contest, in the unexpected Gershwin concerto. Jazz atmosphere and respect for the classical form for Gershwin’s Concerto in F for piano and orchestra of which the Korean pianist gives a playful and jubilant interpretation.”
“The Concerto’s Allegro reveals unbound seventh chords, becomes playful with syncopated chords and under Yeol Eum’s fingers never fails to link sincerity and lightness, sentiment and exaltation, eeriness and elegance. (…) The final Allegro gives the praise back to a virtuosic soloist, who slips melodies ‘à la Rachmaninov’ towards Lisztian soundscapes, keeping the humor in the piece. Well-deserved ovation for Yeol Eum Son, who offers Nikolai Kasputin’s Etude No. 7 Op. 40 as an encore – a piece as technical as it is languid.”