. . . [in the Sibelius concerto] it's the strength and passion of her playing that shines through . . . a rounded, vibrant performance. She has red-blooded support from the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy, and with them makes something punchy of the cross-rhythms in the final movement . . . [Glazunov / Suite for Violin & String Orchestra]: Yoo is a convincing advocate, lavishing thick, dark tone on its long melodies . . . the Grand Adagio from Glazunov's ballet Raymonda gets a performance the sumptuousness of which is entirely fitting.
[Yoo]: In this showcase recording, she is a ubiquitous presence in partnership with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra . . . What strikes you most is the richness of Yoo's tone, combined with a radiant intensity in the Sibelius concerto, and joie de vivre in the Glazunov. She oozes confidence, rhythmic vitality, and a natural expressiveness that gives every phrase an engaging presence and freshness of thought. The Philharmonia provide sumptuous support.
. . . Esther Yoo offers an impressive debut disc . . . she has all the technique and temperament one would expect of a competition finalist . . . She brings great affection and even, perhaps, a touch of crusading zeal to the Glazunov, relishing its melting second theme and using her bright tone to good effect in the more energetic passages . . . The Grand Adagio from Glazunov's "Rayrnonda" is a welcome bonbon from a violinist whose future development should be well worth watching . . .
Esther Yoo proves to be a charismatic interpreter of these perennially favourite Violin Concertos . . . [the Glazunov piece] has many delights that are here made ravishing through affection and skill. Yoo commands a rich tone that can be pared to something silver-fine and her dynamic range is wide while her technique is excellent and music-serving. She is also well accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra and a very supportive Vladimir Ashkenazy who has this music -- fantastical and lyrical -- in his veins. Clearly violinist and conductor are of one mind, and he makes sure that the beguiling orchestration is beautifully lucid, while she makes a handsome job of the extended cadenza. The Finale, without losing impetus, is given time to breathe and conjure images . . . Ashkenazy's strong affinity to Sibelius shines through in this winning reading of the Violin Concerto,] emerging fresh and vividly communicative . . . it's apparent that this is going to be a something-special performance. Such promise is not denied. Yoo is very expressive throughout, she is as intensely poised and then as fiery as you like, and her full timbre in high-lying passages is notable. It's a smouldering account, biding its time to full emotional release, first in the unstintingly sympathetic orchestra and then in a full-on cadenza, Yoo unfazed by its technical hurdles . . . and -- this is the moment that puts this version in the top bracket -- the tempo for the Finale is suitably moderate (Sibelius's "ma non tanto" is ideally observed), perfect in fact . . . The recording is excellent, naturally balanced, the orchestra sharing the limelight, Yoo establishing herself through personality rather than being highlighted. All in all, this is a very distinguished release.
. . . [one of Esther Yoo's assets] is her directness and force, which come to the fore as she seizes the limelight in the well-thumbed Glazunov Concerto in A Minor. Retaining a sweet tone throughout . . . she and conductor Ashkenazy aim to make their performance an event, and for me they succeed . . . [Yoo plays Glazunov's Grand Adagio] sensitively and with respect for its sentimentality . . . [in the Sibelius concerto, the Philharmonia plays well] and is captured in excellent sound . . . [and Yoo, I find, is] a superior interpreter . . . with considerable confidence and projection of the solo part -- she completely holds the stage in the first-movement cadenza, for example. There are no mannerisms in phrasing or affected tempos . . . The last movement, of the Sibelius Suite, "In the Summer," is a "moto perpetuo" that Yoo plays with winsome delicacy . . . [Yoo] displays all the promise of an outstanding violinist headed for a lasting career.
. . . superb violin playing . . . [Yoo] has outstanding technique and a wonderful tone. The Glazunov Concerto in A Minor Op. 82 gets a ravishingly beautiful performance here, as does the Sibelius Concerto in D Minor Op. 47, with Ashkenazy finding some subtle and often unheard nuances in an exceptional orchestral accompaniment . . . [Glazunov's Grand Adagio] is a lovely end to a simply stunning debut.