Joo Yeon Sir: Suites and Fantasies
You won’t find any biographical information about Joo Yeon Sir in Rubicon’s basic booklet: you are
kindly referred to her website. The Korean-born British violinist won the Grand Prix Laureate at the Nedyalka Simeonova International Violin Competition in Bulgaria at the age of 16, and last year she was awarded a young artist residency at St John’s Smith Square, where this album of 20th-century suites and fantasies was recorded.
Joo Yeon Sir has a light, delicate tone, which suits Alfred Schnittke’s Suite in the Old Style with its Stravinskian neoclassical politeness. She turns phrases elegantly, ably supported by Irina Andrievsky’s stylish piano accompaniments. Michael Kennedy viewed Britten’s Suite for violin and piano as the last of his ‘prentice instrumental works’. It charts a course between charm and abrasiveness and is given a committed reading here.
It’s in the more extrovert numbers where Joo Yeon Sir falls slightly short. She pulls rubato around nicely in Manuel de Falla’s Suite popular española but doesn’t really put her stamp on fiery dances like the ‘Polo’. The cinéma-fantaisie version for violin and piano of Darius Milhaud’s sassy Le boeuf sur le toit needs a lot more tongue-in-cheek teasing and sheer vivacity to pull it off. Igor Alexandrovich Frolov’s fantasy on themes from Porgy and Bess makes a pleasant, foot-tapping conclusion to the disc, though, with a dreamy ‘Summertime’, and Joo Yeon Sir finally lets her hair down in ‘It ain’t necessarily so’.