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. 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, Omer Meir Wellber, Susanna Mälkki, Cristian Măcelaru, Jonathan Nott, Mikko Franck, Nicholas Collon, Andrew Manze and Yan Pascal Tortelier.
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.
Most recently Yeol Eum made her BBC Prom debut with the BBC Philharmonic (Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15) for which Mark Thomas from Bachtrack states that 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. Further significant UK debuts in the 18/19 season included appearances at King’s Place with Aurora Orchestra (Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21) and Wigmore Hall debut for a chamber collaboration with the cellist Natalie Klein. In the 19/20 season Yeol Eum makes her debut with Liverpool Philharmonic (Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto) and tours the major concert venues in the UK with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the left hand).Read more
Significant concerti debuts across the 19/20 season and beyond include collaborations with Budapest Festival Orchestra (Rachmaninov No. 2); Singapore Symphony (Mozart No. 27); Australian debut with West Australian Symphony Orchestra (Mozart No. 21); New Zealand debut with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (Mozart No. 27); Finnish debut with Helsinki Philharmonic (Yashiro Piano Concerto) and a tour of Belgium with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra (Liszt No. 1). In Spring 2020, Yeol Eum returns to Cologne to make her debut with the principle players from WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne interpreting Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 arranged for Piano and String Quintet. Later in the year, she rejoins forces as a soloist with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne at the RadiRo Festival in Bucharest (Rachmaninov No. 2).
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, 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 Yeol Eum makes recital debuts in Luzerne’s KKLSaal, Porto’s Casa da Música, Moscow’s House of Music and Belgrade’s Kolarac Concert Hall.
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).
In 2018, Yeol Eum was appointed Artistic Director of Music in PyeongChang in her native Korea where she is responsible for programming both summer and winter festivals at the Olympic site in PyeongChang. 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 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...
Pianist Yeol Eum Son makes her Swiss Concerto debut with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the baton of Susanna Mälkki on 20th and 21st March. She will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major at Geneva’s Victoria Hall (20 March) and Théâtre de Beaulieu...
Conductor Pablo González and pianist Yeol Eum Son return to the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln for three concerts at the Kölner Philharmonie on January 13th, 14th and 15th. The programme will feature Schumann Overture in C minor from Genoveva, Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2...
“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 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.”
von Frederik Hanssen
“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.”