Charlie Siem

Charlie Siem Plays Virtuoso Violin Works

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Although this is not violinist Charlie Siem's first album, it does seem to be the one that he and his new partner, Warner Classics & Jazz, are using to make a more official, triumphal entrance into the recording spotlight. His first album, of the sonatas of Grieg and Elgar, seems a less likely choice of repertoire for a young violinist to try to make a mark. On this 2010 release, Siem goes the route of a set of assorted virtuosic show pieces: Wieniawski, Sarasate, Paganini, and the like. Interestingly, Siem states in his liner notes that as a student (of the great Shlomo Mintz) he did not care for show pieces on this program. Has his attitude toward them truly changed? His technical skills cannot be argued; even the most daunting passages on the disc are tossed off with confidence and ease. Intonation is precise, tempos are appropriately brisk, and dynamics are subtly varied. Perhaps the only downside to Siem's technique is his tendency to use an extremely dry, vertical spiccato bowing, so short that the pitch itself is almost absent. As for interpretive, musical qualities, it's unclear if Siem is really a fan of his own repertoire. There doesn't appear to be an abundance of passion, excitement, or enthusiasm beyond the mere technical execution.

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