Charlie Siem

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Bazzini,Kreisler,Paganini,Ponce,Sarasate,Waxman & Wieniawski
LABELS: Warner
WORKS: Violin works by Bazzini, Kreisler, Paganini, Ponce, Sarasate, Waxman & Wieniawski
PERFORMER: Charlie Siem (violin), Caroline Jaya-Ratnam (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 67804-7

Having made something of an impression with his recording of Sonatas by Grieg and Elgar in 2008, the 25-year-old Charlie Siem has now come up with a disc of lollipops – and rather a short disc to be retailing at full price. He’s certainly up to most technical challenges, though some of the faster music can be unfocused in pitch and tone, especially when higher up the instrument: in this sense the Wieniawski/Kreisler Caprice was an unwise start to the CD, and Bazzini’s Ronde des lutins doesn’t always sound comfortable.
But he’s more at home in the two Paganini Caprices and the Paisiello Variations, perhaps because he is not trying to compete with Jaya-Ratnam’s brittle sounding piano. This may have more to do with the closeness of the recording than the actual playing – Siem himself could bloom more in the acoustic, especially in the more lyrical passages in Waxman’s Carmen fantasie and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. And it’s in places like this that there’s also a lack of charm. Siem introduces the final track, Ponce’s Estrellita, where suddenly there’s a feeling of relaxation and enjoyment – otherwise this is all rather relentless. Martin Cotton