Elgar; Grieg

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Elgar; Grieg
LABELS: Challenge
ALBUM TITLE: Elgar; Grieg
WORKS: Elgar: Violin Sonata; Serenade (arr. Szigeti); Adieu (arr. Szigeti); Grieg: Violin Sonata in C minor, Op. 45 No. 3; Melodies of the Heart, Op. 5 No. 5 – ‘You Cannot Grasp the Waves’ Eternal Course’, ‘Two Brown Eyes’
PERFORMER: Charlie Siem (violin), Andrei Korobeinikov (piano)


Charlie Siem, still in his early twenties, is a young violinist of whom much seems to be expected. The rather adulatory tone of the liner notes for this release, while they are intelligent enough in themselves, raise the eyebrows until one sees they were written by the artist’s sister. But the whiff of special pleading need not detract from the achievement: these are performances of remarkable freshness and spontaneity. The Elgar Sonata especially is beautifully done, at once mercurial and intimate, as if Siem is plucking the music straight from the air. Elgar would surely have approved the lightness of his bowing – never once digging too heavily into the strings – his tracing of the work’s elusive moods, his warmth and range of colour. The Russian Andrei Korobeinikov proves a perfect partner, and the unanimity of this duo in Elgar’s rhythmic ebb and flow are an object-lesson in rubato. The Grieg Sonata here is almost as finely done, and the naturalness of the alternation between the two moods and tempos of the central movement is a joy. As fillers Siem plays two of Szigeti’s arrangements of well-known Elgar miniatures, and his own transcriptions of two unfamiliar and attractive early Grieg songs. The recorded ambience and balance are completely sympathetic to the music. It’s a delightful disc. Siem does not quite make the benchmark for the Elgar against Lydia Mordkovich’s deeply affecting account or the eloquent and exploratory Daniel Hope (Nimbus), but I think he just trumps Mordkovich (Chandos) in the Grieg. Clearly he’s a player of remarkable promise. Calum MacDonald