Press

“The trio brought out the music’s agitated violence with unrestrained force. The quiet poignancy of the score’s final bars was all the more deeply felt after the racing deluge of notes that had come before. For sheer edge-of-the-seat velocity and inner turmoil, the Z.E.N. Trio’s performance would be hard to surpass.”

– Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical ReviewRead more

“Yoo and Hakhnazaryan achieved a wonderful tonal blend in their melodic sections, clearly communicating the appassionato marking and the lyricism of the material.”

– Catriona Barr, San Francisco Classical VoiceRead more

“<The Z.E.N. Trio plays> gorgeously, really think with one mind and provide readings of striking thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Pianist Zhang Zuo is always bringing home structural contrasts and changes in mood through adventurous accents and varied dynamics. Violinist Esther Yoo and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan listen to each other intently, and the former’s resilience of line superbly plays off the latter’s plasticity and tenderness.”

– Geoffrey Newman, Seen & Heard InternationalRead more

“The concerto’s structural beauty, seamlessly melding its movements through a variety of moods and textures, was matched by Yoo’s exquisite sensitivity, and a palpable emotional rigour and maturity incredibly impressive in a musician so young. She was harmonious with the fine-tuned delicacy and intelligence of the Philharmonia and Ashkenazy; Glazunov’s luminous orchestration was teased and shone out brightly, and the essential emotional balance of the piece, from its relaxed, lyrical beginnings to its beautiful slower movement, to the regained, positive vibrancy of the finale with its folkish melody, gave an air of sympathy between soloist and orchestra which it is impossible to fake or mistake.”

– Gus Mitchell, BachtrackRead more

“Different in mood – at least until the final section – is Glazunov’s Violin Concerto from sixty years later. Esther Yoo has recorded it with Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia. She has increased in confidence as a proselytiser for the work. I was intrigued, live, how un-Russian it sounded, until the folk-like Finale, more central-European in a late-romantic idiom, of which Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia also had the measure. Together they offered a convincing reading that begs the question why this Concerto is not heard more often, especially with Yoo’s Stradivarius with its satisfyingly sweet tone to enhance Glazunov’s invention.”

– Nick Breckenfield, Classical SourceRead more

“[Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto] was the perfect introduction to Yoo’s musical gifts. In the first movement, she soared through Prokofiev’s chameleon-like changes in the music, ranging from fervent lyricism to fiendish technical passages, all the while communicating with personality. For her, even the most treacherous feats seemed to be fun, and she smiled as she played. The gorgeous Andante assai, was intensely lyrical, and the violinist brought nuance to its long, poetic phrases. She dug into her strings in the fiery finale, for an exciting finish.”

– Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati CourierRead more

“Making her RSNO debut, violinist Esther Yoo was completely at home with the orchestra as she performed Mendelssohn’s violin concerto with tight dexterity and balanced grace and a tone which was lean yet strong, deliberate yet gentle. Her cadenzas sparkled, with seriously impressive ornamentation and silkily subtle double-stopping, though it was her dialogue with the orchestra which really showcased her command of the music.”

– Miranda Heggie, The Herald ScotlandRead more

“The Mendelssohn concerto begins in agitation and blossoms quickly into exquisite harmonies between soloist and orchestra. Yoo attacked its furious passages and emphasized its subtler dynamics just as much, every shift in tone. An unaccompanied cadenza showed off her technical skill while lovingly dissecting the composer’s themes, as if splitting atoms.”

– Andrew Meacham, The Tampa Bay TimesRead more

“From the moment she took the Gusman Hall stage, Yoo displayed impeccable technique, highly personal interpretive instincts and musical maturity far beyond her years…Bringing strength and a heroic edge to the opening theme, Yoo’s affinity for Mendelssohn’s long-spun lyricism was consistently present. Her light bowing and nicely varied dynamics brought elegance as well as passion to this romantic work.”

– Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical ReviewRead more

“…as she captured all the piece’s hauntingly melodious serenity, expressed in the most elegiac cadences exquisitely counterpointed by the sixty-strong RPO under the baton of Barry Wordsworth. If the audience was deeply moved by the first two slow movements, the excitement of the finale was palpable … Her fingers were a mesmeric blur through most of the movement, soaring onwards and upwards towards the final thrilling ascending accelerando. The applause was thunderous…”

– Andrew Liddle, The Yorkshire TimesRead more

“The warmly expressive Yoo seemed to seek subtlety wherever she could find it.”

– Rob Hubbard, Pioneer PressRead more

“There was a magical moment in the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, played just before intermission. It came at the start of the slow second movement: a brief pause, a slight intake of breath, the lush opening notes taken so softly as to be barely audible.”

– Michael Anthony, Star TribuneRead more

“Yoo’s cadenzas were breath-taking. Her melodic playing was soulful. She responded to all the virtuosity that this giant work demands.”

David Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews

“Soulfulness, not showy virtuosity, ran through the long first movement. She became even more delicate in the lovely canzonetta, making you lean forward to hear her thread of sound.”

Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte ObserverRead more

“Of the soloists, it was BBC New Generation Artist Esther Yoo who owned the morning.”

Charlotte Gardner, BachtrackRead more

“And the virtuoso fireworks of the finale, which can trip up even the best violinists, caused her no trouble. It was altogether a wonderful performance which thrilled the audience, aware they were witnessing a star in the making.”

Ivan Hewett, The Daily TelegraphRead more

“From the beginning of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, Esther Yoo commanded the stage, towering over Ashkenazy.”

– Nick Boston, BachtrackRead more

“The audience was held spellbound by her performance, particularly in the adagio, where she produced passages to overwhelming effect.”

– John Gilroy, Cambridge News

“The manner in which she swept into the first-movement cadenza was masterful. There was also great subtlety of phrasing – especially in the slow movement, and Yoo’s unhurried gentleness at quieter moments in the polonaise-like Finale was impressive.”

– Antony Hodgson, Classical SourceRead more

“Yoo’s solo passages were bewitching, as she played her cadenza in the middle of the first movement with such a huge and intricate amount of detail if was almost hard to conceive the sounds were coming from just one instrument.”

– Miranda Heggie, The HeraldRead more

“She rattled off the pyrotechnics effortlessly: arduous passages in thirds and sixths, rapid repeated down bows, dazzling quasi-guitar effects, and tricky harmonics and left-hand pizzicatos abounded.”

– Claire Seymour, Seen and HeardRead more

“It is not often I get shivers down my spine, and tears in the corner of my eye, but it felt as if Esther Yoo played on strings in my mind, transforming the music into a pure spiritual matter – a journey into an enchanted garden of memories…The following standing ovation was well deserved after this final performance – one of the pinnacles of this high-quality season.”

- Camilla Dal, Gävle DagbladRead more

“Esther Yoo made [the opening of Mozart’s Violin Concerto in A major] blossom wondrously with her clear and intensely resonating violin tone and her highly sensitive interpretation.”

– Siegener Zeitung

“The performance of the young American violinist Esther Yoo led [the listener] into the serene, contemplative world of Mozart. [The violinist’s playing was] wonderfully sensitive and highly musical, combined with technical perfection, a secure instinct for the musical period and a great joy in making music. Add to that the beautiful sound of her violin, bright and silvery – the tone slightly grainy, the depths resonating and the highs floating.”

– Peter Tölke, WAZRead more

“Yoo’s performance with the Hallé … was simply sensational. … Her performance shone with a brilliance that illuminated the familiar score and mesmerised the audience.”

– Alfred Searls, Northern SoulRead more