It’s rare to see a truly bad review in the major papers of record around the world, but this is one of the most scathing review I’ve seen of an individual performance in recent memory. It is a review of a recital given at Le Poisson Rouge in New York (one of the most famous of the alt-venues) by the young British violinist Charlie Siem:
There’s nothing wrong with marketing, or with building bridges between classical music and broader culture. But a musician needs to back up his promotional prowess with skill, and at Mr. Siem’s recital on Monday at Le Poisson Rouge with the pianist Kyoung Im Kim, there was a dumbfounding gap between his retro suavity and the ineptitude of his playing.
His intonation, passagework and tone were simply ugly in two works that are stale enough when played well. The first movement of Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 2 features flowing arpeggios that Mr. Siem labored over; in the elegiac second movement he lacked any discernible emotion at all. In the third movement, a folksy Sarabande, Mr. Siem teetered on the edge of charm but saved himself with the frigid calculation of his phrasing.
Oof! Read the entire review here.