HomeOperaviolinist Esther Yoo chats about recording the Barber and Bruch concertos

violinist Esther Yoo chats about recording the Barber and Bruch concertos

Esther Yoo and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in recording sessions for their new disc (Photo: Frances Marshall )
Esther Yoo and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in recording periods for his or her new disc (Photograph: Frances Marshall )

The violinist Esther Yoo has a brand new disc out, a pairing of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), conductor Vasily Petrenko and issued on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Each concertos have private significance for Esther, while her relationship with the RPO goes again to 2018 when she was the orchestra’s first artist in residence.

The recording began with the thought to report the Bruch concerto, a piece Esther grew up with and has recognized from childhood. In truth, it’s the work that impressed her to attempt to turn out to be a greater violinist, in order that she may produce the noble character and sound that the concerto requires. So, it is rather a lot part of her musical journey and id. The Barber concerto is a more moderen hyperlink, she felt very related to it as quickly as she first got here throughout it. Each works are very coronary heart on sleeve, there’s nothing hidden and she or he feels that each are very relatable. While the 2 are contrasting in model, they work effectively collectively.

There are, after all, loads of different recordings of each concertos, significantly the Bruch, however then you possibly can say that about different concertos that she has recorded, together with the Tchaikovsky and the Sibelius concertos, with fabulous recordings by violinists of earlier generations. However equally, Esther feels that each musician has one thing to say in a bit, the fantastic thing about the repertoire lives on and there’s area for every new interpretation. 

Bruch had a passion for the violin and his love and keenness for the instrument’s sound is mirrored in his quite a few different works for violin, together with the lesser recognized Concerto No. 2 and the Scottish Fantasia. Esther has included one other lesser recognized Bruch work within the disc, his Adagio Appassionato for violin and orchestra, which has shut musical hyperlinks to the gradual motion of the second concerto. The Adagio Appassionato was a brand new discovery for Esther, made in regards to the time she began engaged on the album, and for every of her albums, she tries to incorporate newer works or undiscovered ones. She calls the Adagio Appassionato a wonderful work, and she or he factors to the sense of battle between the concepts behind every of the 2 phrases within the title, Adagio Appassionato.

Esther Yoo (Photo: Marco Borggreve)
Esther Yoo (Photograph: Marco Borggreve)

The Barber is one thing of a virtuoso piece, however Esther doesn’t discover it awkwardly written for the violin, a lot in order that the music is on the forefront and also you overlook about method and turn out to be immersed within the music itself. She finds plenty of similarities to movie music within the work, the opening takes you instantly into an emotional world that carries you to the tip of the piece, so listening to the concerto might be like watching a movie. The third motion is probably probably the most technically demanding due to the motion’s construction, and there’s a lot vitality within the music.

The pairing of the 2 works is intriguing as a result of each composers wrote their concertos across the identical age, Bruch was 28 and Barber was 29, mature however nonetheless younger. Due to the similarities within the ages, Esther feels that although the composers come from totally different durations the feelings are related. And he or she is 28, so feels in the identical zone, the recording simply works in each sense.

Additionally, the programme encapsulates one thing of her geographical journey, as she was born in america to Korean mother and father, moved to Belgium when she was six, and studied in Germany. The disc contains, as a bon bouche, Memento d’Amerique, Op. 17, ‘Yankee Doodle‘ by Henri Vieuxtemps. He was born in Belgium, the place she grew up, and the work was impressed by his go to to the USA. She has performed the Vieuxtemps concerto, however has no ideas of recording it, but, she is simply too busy with the present disc.

Esther grew to become the RPO’s first artist in residence in 2018 and it was an honour to be invited. She did a number of live shows with the orchestra, together with performing the Bruch concerto, in addition to training and outreach initiatives. These latter had been crucial to Esther, and so they created a brand new piece impressed by workshops with younger adults who had been having tough instances with psychological well being and with consuming problems. So this music as remedy led to a brand new piece of music which Esther premiered with the RPO, making her time with the orchestra a significant and important yr. Typically, as a soloist, she merely has a fast interplay with the orchestra, however with the RPO, as a result of they did initiatives collectively, she acquired to know the musicians.

Each the Bruch and the Barber concertos fall into the vein of late Romantic music, a mode that feels pure to Esther and she or he has recorded the Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Glazunov concertos. The Sibelius/Glazunov disc was her first album, she was simply 20, and she or he wished to decide on a repertoire that felt comfy to her. However as she has developed as an artist and as a violinist she needs to discover different repertoire. She is enjoying Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 for the primary time this season, and subsequent yr she will likely be premiering a up to date concerto which is being written for her.

While a lot of her repertoire is acquainted, she factors out that the journey of any musician is lengthy and that it’s a pity to restrict your self to at least one kind of music. So, along with basic concertos she has recorded movie music, together with the soundtrack of On Chesil Seaside (the 2017 movie directed by Dominic Cooke and written by Ian McEwen with music by Dan Jones), and labored on American pianist and composer Chad Lawson‘s latest disc, breathe. A disc described as ‘a heart-felt invitation to pause and luxuriate in a cathartic second of launch’.

Chad Lawson initially reached out to Esther as a result of he had seen movies of her performing in addition to seeing the movies she launched through the pandemic, Artist Confidential. These had been movies wherein she talked to different younger artists about matters such because the pandemic, psychological well being, overcoming accidents, and monetary points, huge topics which can be a part of younger performers’ lives however that are usually ignored in interviews that think about musical initiatives. Chad Lawson thought that it was vital that musicians spoke about these points, and as he was planning his subsequent album he invited her to be a visitor artist on it and so they have since turn out to be nice buddies.

Vasily Petrenko, Esther Yoo & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in recording sessions (Photo Frances Marshall)
Vasily Petrenko, Esther Yoo & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in recording periods (Photograph Frances Marshall)

Esther is eager to proceed working to spotlight different areas of musicians’ lives. She restricted the Artist Confidential collection as a result of it was the primary time she had ever achieved such a mission, however the response was optimistic. For her, it will be important that we share extra about the entire expertise of being a musician, no matter degree. She needs to have a look at issues, feelings and questions that all of us have and feels that it’s useful to listen to different musicians speaking about this stuff. As a younger pupil she had so many questions, however all you ever noticed was the artist on the stage. You noticed the completed product, and acquired little or no details about the method, about how they acquired there. She thinks that with Social Media, issues have opened up considerably however there’s nonetheless an inclination to share primarily optimistic elements, that are only one a part of folks’s lives.

One other facet of performing that’s vital to her is chamber music, significantly together with her trio, Z.E.N. Trio (with Zhang Zuo, piano and Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello). She loves enjoying chamber music and loves enjoying together with her trio. They did an enormous tour of Australia final yr together with premiering a bit by the Australian composer Matt Laing, which was specifically written for the tour. It was the trio’s first endeavour with up to date music, and she or he is eager to increase the territory additional. The performers within the trio met via the BBC New Technology Artists scheme, and that is their eighth yr working collectively. All three have impartial solo careers, however chamber music is significant to them. They don’t all the time handle to fulfill up rather a lot, however they attempt to have one huge mission or tour every year, to assist them develop, and she or he feels that this is a vital facet of her performing profession. The trio has loads of plans for the 2023/24 season, together with their first go to to Korea in October 2023, after which in early 2024 there’s a European tour together with the Concertgebouw and the Prague Pageant, with their Wigmore Corridor debut coming throughout 2024/25 season.

Barber, Bruch - Esther Yoo - Deutsche Grammophon

The week after we spoke Esther had the official album launch, adopted by performances of the Bruch in Seoul, Korea with the Korean Chamber Orchestra, after which a go to to Bangkok to carry out the concerto with the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. Additional dates embrace a March go to to Colombia, however dates are nonetheless being added to her diary. One spotlight is the efficiency of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 within the UK in Might on the Royal Pageant Corridor with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and performing with the RPO in Madrid in April. 

Touring could be very a lot part of her life and she or he enjoys it – travelling and visiting locations. Her forthcoming go to to Bangkok will likely be her first journey to Thailand. Some elements of travelling such because the lodges can get tiring, however it’s nonetheless a privilege to expertise totally different international locations and totally different cultures, and she or he realises she is fortunate to get these experiences.

Once I ask about her musical heroes, her first remark is that she has rather a lot. She is regularly impressed by Maria Callas. Esther finds the voice of the violin relates carefully to the human voice and so attracts inspiration from singers, from the fantastic thing about the human voice. Amongst the various violinists, she admires she names David Oistrakh and Christian Ferras.

Barber, Bruch – Esther Yoo, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko – Deutsche Grammophon [Link Tree]

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