26 May, 2018

Concert Review: Vladimir Ashkenazy and Esther Yoo

Image result for yoo glazunovConcert Review: Vladimir Ashkenazy and Esther Yoo

May 25, 2018, CCCH
HKPO - Ashkenazy - Yoo
Glazunov - Beethoven

I have always enjoyed every concert of Vladimir Ashkenazy with the HKPO. And so I awaited this concert eagerly, more so since I have recently also discovered Esther Yoo. I was captivated by her Sibelius/Glazunov disc (DG) from the library.

Ashkenazy conducted in his typical no-nonsense, even somewhat mechanical fashion, yet the results he obtained from the HKPO were astonishing. Glazunov's Chopiniana, a pleasant piece, was lyrical and relaxed, tinged with a Russian feeling that the bland HKPO rarely could produce.

The team's rendition of Glazunov's Violin Concerto was much like the recording, though even better in its depth of feeling. Miraculously, Yoo's violin, "Prince Obolensky" Strad, sounded just as in her recordings, rich and totally without strain. More than most of her peers, she is a natural, projecting and playing with the utmost ease and without pretense. There was not a hint of "trying to be different". With such gorgeous playing, there is no need to. Her encore, a solo Bach (sarabande), was similarly divine.

TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto / YooBut in some ways, the second half, Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, was even more amazing. HKPO has never really done great Beethoven, but this effort ranks with their very best. Ashkenazy coaxed a marvelously detailed, yet fluid and stylish performance out of the HKPO.

Those enamored of Yoo should investigate her more recent release of Tchaikovsky, for me even morememorable than her Glazunov/Sibelius disc. Since I borrowed it from the library, I could not stop playing it!

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