“… no boldness was missing in the superb intervention Gamzou allowed himself with Mahler’s unfinished Tenth symphony… many tried to orchestrate this piece before. From Ernst Krenek to Deryck Cooke in 1972, whose musicologically-based version was hailed as the valid one until recently. All of those pale in comparison with the vital realisation by Gamzou, which was created from a deep and true artistry. Gamzou obviously understands Mahler very intimately, especially his Ninth, the farewell-music of which becomes a direct bridge to the dusty, viola sound in the introduction of this piece. Eighty minutes of music follow, utterly coherent and conclusive, extraordinary and absolutely shattering. The Tenth becomes Mahler’s Purgatory-like “letter in a bottle” for the 20th century… The performance was met with endless applause and left a drained conductor, walking through the sections for his final bow, who seemed to have gone through hell and all the pain of the music himself. A monumental experience.” [trans. from German] Georg Linsenmann, Stuttgarter Zeitung

Unshakeable, radical, uncompromising – portrait of a possessed genius. Yoel Gamzou is a phenomenon. One could also add unswerving, obsessively persistent, radical, uncompromising and fanatically authentic… While stunned by this 23-year-old’s absolutely exotic journey through life, there is indeed a danger of losing sight of the fact that although he is a man possessed, constantly rising beyond limits, he is first and foremost a demonically talented artist of high integrity moving at breathtaking speed, a young man whose artistry should be taken very seriously…

Gamzou has the musicians in his International Mahler Orchestra (IMO) under perfect control – as if he was born with a conductor’s baton in his hand. His rehearsals demand the highest level of concentration, motivation and speed of reaction – his brain is extraordinarily quick, and he knows exactly what he wants. He hears everything, sees everything and gives every impulse back to the orchestra, with a charming, ironic, pointed comment. The entire exuberant richness of the fluctuating spectrum of expression in Mahler’s symphonic cosmos can be precisely read from his eyes, seen on his face. Gamzou’s clearly defined fantasy and the feverish impatience of his work somewhat remind us of Carlos Kleiber… This is Gamzou’s quintessential vision of Mahler which he has brought to life: a wild, naked, radical, spiritual landscape, the intensity of which can be terrifying. It is incredibly fascinating. Just like everything Gamzou does.” [trans. from German] Julia Spinola, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“… His version is richer in sound in comparison with Rattle’s recording: the declamatory contrasts can be truly terrifying. Gamzou forms the musical journey more dynamically, more restlessly than his renowned colleague. The music sounds all-in-all more sensual, the articulation earthier, full of movement and variation … already in the Adagio, Gamzou and his musicians remove the curtain of symphonic solidity. The piece is overwhelming through its wild dissonances, violent outbursts and the cluster-like, infernal chord of the climax. It seems like the demise of any illusion of beauty … Yoel Gamzou conducts the piece as a symphonic drama, impulsive, with burning intensity, yet also controlled. He proves, that only the absolute belief in art and in one’s own convictions and power can move mountains. His enthusiasm for his art seems infinite … Yoel Gamzou risks a lot, in fact, everything. That is exactly what comprises his charm.” [trans. from German] Wolfgang Schreiber, Süddeutsche Zeitung

“… “In Mahler’s “Totenfeier”, the 24-year-old, Israeli-American maestro sparked a furor last Tuesday in the Laeiszhalle… when he sculpted the violent beginning motif of the celli, the music seems to volcanically explode. He forms powerful contrasts between screaming fortissimi and almost inaudible piano passages, strengthening the collage-like nature of the piece. And he demands extreme tempo changes…. this was perhaps the most exciting contribution to the Hamburg Mahler-Cententary celebrations… an extraordinary concert with an exceptionally talented young man. One can only wish him a future with a somewhat healthy balance between genius and madness.”[trans. from German] Hamburger Abendblatt

“… Perhaps more time had to pass and a conductor had to appear, one who believes unconditionally in Furtwängler’s music, for the piece to get the recognition that it actually deserves. This happened most impressively and movingly in the Good Friday Concert of the Kassel State Orchestra. Yoel Gamzou, the young 1st Kapellmeister, not only believes in Furtwängler’s music profoundly, he seems to be truly in his element. He animated the KSO to one of the most exciting and successful concerts in recent years…. most importantly, this piece renounces all trivialities and effects completely. It brings the late-romantic sound variations to its perhaps last climax. Nothing seems heavy, clumsily German, as some often claim. Not even when Furtwängler explores deep sound-worlds of strings and winds. Gamzou and the superbly-playing KSO become true ear-openers in this performance… at the end of the concert… the audience in this sold-out Stadthalle expresses its gratitude with long applause and bravos”[trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… the Israeli-American conductor Yoel Gamzou is doubtlessly an unusual talent… his Berlin debut was a vision of a phenomenon which came true, somebody possessed by an idea, or, one could say, a genius… All in all one had the feeling that somebody really understood Mahler here… Gamzou goes in his very own way: the music is sustained on high-tension already from the beginning; there are many developments and gestures; then it explodes, with unannounced tempo-changes, and one witnesses a rope dance, a battle of life and death, dark and demonic… one cannot but admire Gamzou’s dedication and strong will… he displayed a huge talent, which has all the makings of a truly great career.” [trans. from German] Andreas Göbel, Kulturradio

“… When [Mahler’s Ninth] disappears, rather than ends – in endlessly quiet, never-quite-ending string motifs – the audience in the sold-out Kassel Stadthalle is wiped out, shattered, but also fascinated and delighted. Because the listeners are not used to being exposed to such radical, expressive extremes, as was the case through the interpretation of 24-year-old Yoel Gamzou. Gamzou took the interpretation to the very edge, where Mahler’s painful farewell from life and his memory of moments of happiness are almost impossible to bear.

To master this monumental score, and to somehow lead the orchestra through this symphony, would already be a huge challenge for most young conductors. But Yoel Gamzou, a huge talent, is unquestionably master of his craft. Furthermore, he has the freedom to push the boundaries of this piece even further. One rarely heard the KSO so hypnotised and free. A huge achievement, where even the occasional challenge-overload was calculated and planned. The Adagio-Finale started with an incredibly intense sound but then transformed to deep peace. But the movement also stretched almost beyond the bearable – so painful is a farewell in Mahler’s world…. After a moment of silence, the audience cheered the euphoric conductor with standing ovation – who in turn thanked almost every single musician.” [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… Routine is the death of music. And if there is somebody who profusely refuses to simply execute a score within the predictability of routine, it is Kassel’s 1st Kapellmeister Yoel Gamzou. He conducted Gustav Mahler’s 6th symphony in the recent Bußtagkonzert in the sold-out Kassel Stadthalle in a way it has never sounded before. The 6th, which is already considered to be one of the darkest pieces in the symphonic literature, became even more extreme and radical through Gamzou. … It became clear that Mahler was exploring the boundaries of music: the intensity with which Gamzou used the percussion instruments, as accentuation of the truly modern, alien sounds produced by the winds and the lower strings… Gamzou’s artistic uniqueness and individuality became most clear in the extremely flexible tempi. Even in the march-like first movement, he opened unexpected zones of serenity, although Mahler’s cowbell-illustrated passages of nature idyll have something menacing and sinister to them. … The way the simple and beautiful Andante-theme was played, first with great discretion and later becoming a painful orchestral tutti, was deeply moving… A tour-de-force of Gamzou and a fantastic KSO in superb form. “I am totally drained” was a sentence one heard often after this highly well-received concert. Happy, fulfilled exhaustion on all sides.” [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“…This was a wild, unusually dramatic Mahler vision … Music that doesn’t only flow-along sentimentally, but also searches and screams – as if Gamzou’s possessedness truly found its echo here.” [trans. from German] Jörg Königsdorf, Süddeutsche Zeitung

“… Gamzou’s interpretation was deeply expressive, colourful, with a great deal of rhythmical energy: from the famous “Montagues and Capulets” theme in the beginning, through the ghost-like “Dance” and all the way to the pathos-filled Finale “Romeo at Juliet’s Tomb,” where mourning (powerfully screaming orchestra tuttis) transfigures into hopelessness (solitary sounds of the piccolo and bass-clarinet). The ensuing applause was just as intense as the music: standing ovation, endless applause and flowers from the audience for the conductor Yoel Gamzou. The cheering repeated after the thrillingly played encore “Morning Dance”. A triumph!”[trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… [Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody] was a mind-blowing beginning for the recent symphony concert at the sold-out Stadthalle. This was the return of Yoel Gamzou, until recently 1st Kapellmeister in Kassel, as guest-conductor… Gamzou selected pieces from a largely forgotten early-modern repertoire, all by composers who pursued an alternative path to the Schönberg school and the avant-garde. This extraordinary concert showed how deeply moving this music can be, if performed with such enthusiasm and inner conviction…. the biggest revelation was Karl Amadeus Hartmann. Gamzou’s idea, to include the introduction of his 3rd symphony before the early version thereof (the Sinfonia Tragica), was a brilliant streak: the prologue with the timpani and bass soli, which leads organically to a string-quartet solo and then to a whole string-sections episode, was a symphonic feast.”  [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… Yoel Gamzou showed once more what makes his conducting so special: the incredible freshness in his interpretation, the ability to penetrate to the core of the music, and at the same time to bring the orchestra to a superb performance quality…. all 14 variations were delightful. It was the 9th variation though, “Nimrod”, where the strings began the theme in an almost inaudible yet highly intense pianissimo, then leading a slow and long crescendo into an intense orchestra tutti, only to later die away – which truly got under your skin … At the end – intense cheering, bravos and screams of “thanks.” [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… The Mahler association then came to the fore with the Adagietto from the 5th symphony in a subtly impassioned performance…. This succeeded in avoiding the mawkish lucubration to which this music is frequently subjected and yet reached its emotional core, giving it full weight and intensity despite the modest numbers of personnel and which included some notably sophisticated harp-playing from Marianne Eva Lecler…. Especially noticeable was Gamzou’s ability, remarkable in so young a conductor, to render the bar-lines as completely unimportant, to precisely locate the music’s significant moments and give them full force and yet also to hold the sound on the finest thread when necessary…” Douglas Cooksey, Classical Source

“If the composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold – who was long associated with saccharine and lush melodies – still needed a revival, a true saving of honour for his reputation, it was delivered at this concert. Yoel Gamzou and his superb, world-class orchestra showed, in their extremely fascinating and suspense-filled interpretation, what a radical, abysmal message hides behind these four, concise movements. The listeners cheered with standing ovations at the end, thoroughly aware, that they had just experienced a rare, highly intense musical evening.” [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… after a minute of intense emotion, the audience of the absolutely packed Stadthalle cheered Gamzou and the Orchestra for minutes with standing ovations… rarely does one encounter such suspense in a concert, as in this performance, which also featured superb playing quality on behalf of the orchestra… how often does one get the chance to be so deeply moved by such a powerful performance? “ [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA

“… Hardly anybody left this concert without being utterly overwhelmed by these two hours of intense music… a whole world was opened by the composer Elmar Lampson and his 3rd symphony … hearing how a melody can be illuminated, commented, contrasted from all sides – then turned into a complex symphonic form, is original and absolutely gripping…. This piece, whose world premiere was also conducted by Yoel Gamzou in 2011 in Hamburg, is very demanding for the orchestra. The audience thanked the conductor and the orchestra for the intense musicality and high performance quality; many bravos for the composer who was in attendance…. The conductor and the orchestra plunged with the same level of energy into Korngold’s large Symphony in F sharp after the break; a highly intense, emotional turmoil followed. The first movement embodies a compact  coexistence of brutal harshness and idyll. But it is mainly the third movement (Adagio), which starts as a heavy breath and grows dramatically, that gave this concert a very long echo.” [trans. from German] Werner Fritsch, HNA