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I break my rule and review a kid

October 6, 2017 by norman lebrecht

17 comments.


From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

I’m about to break an iron rule and review a kid playing the violin. And, no, I haven’t given in to peer pressure, though there has been plenty of it from the London agency that signed her at 15, and the record label that followed up. The kid’s 16 now, old enough to take a bit of criticism and interesting enough to warrant adult consideration….

Read on here.

And here.


Comments (17)

  1. boringfileclerk says:

    Eh, her approach and technique is age appropriate. There’s nothing really special to my ears that warrant giving her a record contract. Had it not been for her parent’s connections, she’d be lucky to get a back desk slot at a community orchestra by the time she’s 30.

    1. John says:

      I think “back desk slot at a community orchestra” is off the mark and quite unfair. Your other comments are your own opinion which is fine, even regarding her parents, but the last point is cruel and unqualified.

      Or perhaps your local community orchestra, for which you are assistant treasurer/librarian is on par with Concertgebouw?

      1. boringfileclerk says:

        Perhaps that last remark was overstating things a bit. Still, her current level of musicianship does not deserve the attention that she is getting. What is unfair and cruel is that there are hundreds of much better violinists of various ages in the world that will never get their day in the sun as she has.

        Yes, I am a member of a community orchestra, but at least I know that I don’t deserve to play in the big leagues.

        1. Steven Holloway says:

          Your point about what I might term ‘lost’ musicians is a good one. Naxos rather demonstrated the truth of it on a large scale. I also think it’s way past time to rethink the whole ‘prodigy’ business. What we’ve long been inundated with is technical prodigies, even though usually only in terms of the digital velocity. This is an ability, and its acquisition not all difficult to explain in physiological parlance. The prodigies we should be seeking are those who have exceptional qualities, musicality first and foremost. I was myself surprised by this, but I some time ago concluded that children who have both the above-mentioned ability AND qualities have been and are very few indeed. Looking back, I think of Josef Hoffman and Solomon as exemplars of this. It was much noted that the very young Solomon, though utterly and thankfully devoid of the less appealing facets of precosity, could talk to distinguished musicians as an adult would as he prepared a performance. He delighted them. Thinking of that as an example, then, what marks out the true ‘prodigy’ is the capacity, both physical and mental, to perform at an adult level — but I stress that it is the musicality, which entails a thorough command of the score, that matters, not dizzying fingers. That last, indeed, is no longer exceptional; it is so common that 16 year-olds are tearing into the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 3 or into the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in every conservatoire. And some, almost always unwisely, on disc.

  2. Bart Diels says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, your assertion that Noa’s father is “a Rotterdam Philharmonic violist” is either a scoop or a mistake.

    1. Alex Davies says:

      I believe he actually plays in the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest.

  3. kot says:

    I like how the main preoccupation of Classical Musicians and admirers has become ‘How good someone is, relatively speaking.’

    “Look, she’s so good!”

    “Julliard is not the best school, Curtis is.”

    “Wow, the NY phil. really played well last night; did you hear how good Mr.X sounded”.

    “I got into Tanglewood!”

    “I think Lang Lang is not as good a Barenboim”

    “Did you hear he won that job dude!” “he must be a monster violinist!”

    What I rarely hear is talk about how beautiful music is. I suppose conservatories bear the responsibility because they make it all about competitions/jobs; that atmosphere makes being moved by music very hard because ‘you can only enjoy it if you are the best’.

  4. Has Been says:

    Why on earth is a respectable agency like Harrison Parrott taking on such a young violinist. Surely they are aware of the dangers. Jasper Parrott is an experienced and knowledgeable manager and should know better. Record companies are there for the short run but management is a long term commitment.

    1. Dirk Fischer says:

      Actually, record companies are interested in long term engagements as well, as only those make sense if one needs to recuperate investments. It is mainly the artists that like to plan short-term, often changig labels as it suits them.

      Dirk Fischer
      Director, Solaire Records

      1. Anon says:

        That is not true. Artists like to collaborate long term too. Of course if the conditions are lousy for the artists, as they often are these days in recording projects, then why should they commit long term?
        Most labels these days do not think much further than beyond the next release. They do not care how long they collaborate with an artist. They care how they can maximize profit out of a collaboration, time being only a correlating factor, since usually an artist who sells well in the moment will also sell well long term. But not always.

  5. Has Been says:

    Why on earth is a respectable agency like Harrison Parrott taking on such a young violinist. Surely they are aware of the dangers. Jasper Parrott is an experienced and knowledgeable manager and should know better. Record companies are there for the short run but management is a long term commitment. Unfortunately slipped disc is refusing to publish this.

  6. Robert Holmén says:

    Dangers? What are the dangers?

    She’s playing repertoire she’d be playing anyway even if she studied privately and just did her teacher’s studio recital at year’s end. You’re worried she may ruin her voice, maybe?

    She’s 16. Too soon to be earning money? There are millions of other 16-year-olds and younger around the world who HAVE to earn money, at grunt labor jobs. She’d be foolish to turn this opportunity down.

    I’ve been in community orchestras… no, the back desks do not play like she does. They would be lucky to have her, not the other way around.

  7. Ellingtonia says:

    Whats with the age bias……..try this 13 year old, he IS rather good ……………….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLQTbmUYI4A

  8. V. Lind says:

    I don’t remember all this implied criticism when Nicola Benedetti appeared on the scene. The clip was insufficient for me to form an opinion on this girl, except that it sounded nice, but when it comes to instruments, some people surely ARE ready earlier than others.

  9. Scott says:

    Hilary Hahn recorded her first album at 16, and it’s wonderful.

    1. Alex Davies says:

      And the 16-year-old Menuhin’s recording of the Elgar concerto, under the baton of the composer himself, no less, remains unsurpassed.

      1. Anon says:

        “…remains unsurpassed”.
        Where has this brainwashing in the wider public started, that musical interpretation is about winning, like sports? Or like in accounting.
        A world record in sports remains unsurpassed (until it is broken). Musical interpretation comes from a soul and is intended to touch another soul. It’s not measurable and not quantifiable. Idiots, sorry.


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