Notes and Editorial Reviews
Siem confidently tackles the icily difficult opening solo in Henryk Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 14, and shows no signs of stress over the long string of parallel tenths. His tone throughout this extreme manifestation of late Romantic virtuosity is clean, wiry, and electric, and he has plenty of power in the heroic themes of Bruch's well-worn Violin Concerto No. 1...
"...Fortunately Siem is a fine musician. He’s chosen two concertos and a curiosity. One of the concertos is the Bruch in G minor, of which we are presumably sated, and the second is the Wieniawski in F sharp minor, which is a much rarer affair - indeed considerably rarer than the same composer’s warhorse, the Second
Concerto. The oddity is Ole Bull’s Cantabile doloroso e Rondo giocoso. Siem is joined by the LSO and Andrew Gourlay. Siem’s Bruch is clean-limbed and his thoughtful performance includes some clever expressive devices that show a good sense of personalisation. He phrases warmly in the slow movement where the wind and horn lines are well shaped, and where the crest and fall of the violin line is finely detailed; dynamic variance is an ally to Siem here. The finale strikes a rather grand kind of pose, though the answering phrases and passages – especially the answering wind lines, often fudged or glossed – register well. Sometimes Siem’s passagework can be a touch routine. I can’t help feeling the performance is just a touch studio-bound, for all the felicities..."
British violinist Charlie Siem is something of a sensation, to say the least, having combined activity as a male model (check out his spread in Vogue) with a specialty in violin works of the most bone-crushing kind. Don't hate him because he's beautiful, for there's no question he has the chops to back up his looks. The most exciting moment on this Warner Classics and Jazz release comes right up front, when Siem confidently tackles the icily difficult opening solo in Henryk Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 14, and shows no signs of stress over the long string of parallel tenths. His tone throughout this extreme manifestation of late Romantic virtuosity is clean, wiry, and electric, and he has plenty of power in the heroic themes of Bruch's well-worn Violin Concerto No. 1 in G major, Op. 26. The novelty here is Ole Bull's Cantabile doloroso e rondo giocoso for violin and orchestra. It's nice to see the music of Bull being revived, for it has much to tell about 19th century America and the public face of Romantic music in general. Siem's pure tone isn't quite capable of delivering the schmaltz required; nor do the slow movements of the two concertos have quite their quota of warmth. But make no mistake: this is a major talent, not just a pretty face. The London Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Gourlay stays where it belongs, in the background, and the engineering brings out Siem's exploits clearly. A fine virtuoso outing.
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