Yeol Eum Son


Artistic Director – Music in PyeongChang


Yeol Eum Son’s graceful and timeless interpretations, crystalline touch and versatile, thrilling performances have caught the attention of audiences worldwide. She is highly regarded as a brilliant virtuoso whose playing has a rare balance between enormous kinetic energy and substantial gravity. Yeol Eum performs all over the world as a recitalist and soloist with orchestras. An avid chamber musician, in 2018 Yeol Eum was appointed Artistic Director of Music in PyeongChang. Festival being responsible for programming both summer and winter editions at the Olympic site in PyeongChang.

Praised for her widely eclectic and rich concerti repertoire, ranging from Bach, all-Mozart, early German and Russian Romantic to Gershwin, Szymanowski, Ligeti and Salonen, as a soloist Yeol Eum has collaborated with major ensembles worldwide such as New York PhilharmonicMariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Dresdner Philharmoniker, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken, Tonkunstler Orchestra at the Grafenegg Festival, Bergen Philharmonic, CBSO, Aurora Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi, St. Petersburg, Belgrade, Zagreb, Sofia Philharmonic and RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra among many others.

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Recent News


“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

The best performances of Nikolai Kapustin’s through-composed jazz-influenced works come from that rare breed of pianists who possess both a transcendental classical technique and a feel for jazz time keeping. Yeol Eum Son is one of those pianists … Small wonder that Kapustin himself encouraged Son’s advocacy. A delectable and sonically superb addition to the Kapustin discography.

Jed Distler

Classics Today

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 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

…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…

Keith Bruce

The Herald, Scotland

…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

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


“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


“Son’s execution of the solo part was sparkling” (BBC Proms Debut)

Anna Picard

The Times

“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

“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.”

Washington Post

“Yeol Eum Son, a model of clarity and fleetness… a winning album all round.” – Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 (Onyx)

The Times

“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

…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

More Reviews

“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…”

HiFi Critic

“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….”

Aachener Nachrichten

“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.”

The Scotsman

“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.”

Freiburger Nachrichten

“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.”