Stunningly Delicate Violin Playing . . . a lot of beautiful playing in the recording of Tchaikovsky's Violin concerto . . . [2nd movement]: a very soft and lyrical performance . . . [3rd movement]: a sparkling and delicate account . . . The rest of the program is made of small show pieces where Esther Yoo is warmly expressive and soulful or, like in the "Danse russe", vigorously virtuosic. In the slower compositions she fascinates with a great subtlety of phrasing. In the "Sérénade mélancolique" her playing is so stunningly delicate, rich in nuances that she is able to elevate the music to a truly overwhelming effect.
. . . [in the Concerto, Yoo is] well supported by the Philharmonia under Vladimir Ashkenazy . . . The two extracts from "Swan Lake" are a really good listen . . . [Yoo plays all the Tchaikovsky] pieces really well . . . a very talented violinist . . .
[Violin Concerto]: Best here are Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia, natural grace personified . . . [Yoo makes the Andante from "Swan Lake"] more extrovert than anything in her interpretation of the Concerto. Ditto the dashing "Danse Russe". The three more familiar violin-and-orchestra concert pieces are sweet and personable, too.
. . . [Violin Concerto]: this is the finest version to cross my path in the past year . . . [Yoo] is clearly already an accomplished artist. Her dark, aristocratic tone is treasurable . . . She plays with compact vibrato and can pare her sound down to a fine pianissio . . . The first movement unfolds naturally and the cadenza is dispatched with panache . . . Yoo maintains a sense of flow in the central Canzonetta, while the Allegro vivacissimo finale dances . . . [Yoo's expansive playing] is not without drama and makes this a most attractive disc.
Ashkenazy is an inspiring conductor who often gets extraordinary results. His recordings of the symphonies of Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Sibelius and many others are superlative . . . [Tchaikovsky's music] is in his blood and his soul and he accompanies with great authority . . . [Esther Yoo]: this new CD can only enhance her reputation. She plays with a distinctive sound that is ideally suited to this late romantic repertoire . . . she is able to make pyrotechnical passages not only exciting but meaningful.
. . . outstanding . . . It should come as no surprise, given Ashkenazy's involvement, that all the performances here display a marked sensitivity and an innate empathy for the music. The Violin Concerto is the main work here, of course, and the measured, unhurried opening signals an approach that continues throughout the work, although there is never a lack of passion when needed. The high performance standard is maintained throughout the remaining works on the disc. The two pieces from "Swan Lake" -- the "Pas de Deux" from Act 1 and the "Danse Russe" from Act 3 -- are both original violin solos from the ballet score, and not transcriptions or arrangements. The poignant "Sérénade mélancolique in B flat Minor, Op.26" was the composer's first major work for violin and orchestra. The really lovely "Valse-Scherzo Op.34" and the Glazunov orchestration of the "Mélodie" -- the last of the three pieces that comprise "Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op.42" -- complete another outstanding CD from these artists.
Lecture ardente et sensible . . . un discours sobre, solidement structuré et techniquement dominé . . . On y remarque deux brillants solos détachés du "Lac des cygnes", dont la "Danse russe" et sa périlleuse introduction. Chef et soliste y démontrent aplomb et énergie . . . [on s'attardera] volontiers sur la "Sérénade mélancolique", qui trouve ici une touchante intériorité, et sur la "Valse-Scherzo" pour sa fantaisie bien venue.