Video: When a 9 year-old outplays Kreisler

Video: When a 9 year-old outplays Kreisler


norman lebrecht

November 18, 2014

This is Jennifer Panebianco, 9 years old, playing a Kreisler allegro at the Farnham Competitive Music Fest in London, this weekend.

Words fail.

jennifer panebianco




Click on blue word ‘Post’ if the video fails to pop out.


  • Boring Fileclerk says:


  • Sergei says:

    Personally, I prefer pane nero. Good for a child. Let’s wait and see what happen to her.

  • Milka says:

    That the child has a basic dexterity is a given, but this is
    sad..a lot of off pitch scratching
    it would have been better to hear her
    in something that would show off her
    9 year old talent to better advantage .
    Outplays Kreisler ?????c’mon
    what are you smoking ……………..

  • Henrik says:

    Technically impressive for a 9 year old. She will get to the meaning of allegro and other issues of interpretation. Probably Kreisler would have played slower, outplayed in that field, sure…

  • M2N2K says:

    It is very good for a nine-year-old. But not much more than that.

  • Prewartreasure says:

    Made worse (to these old ears) with a very dull sounding piano (a Bösendorfer?) or, perhaps, just poor mic placement.

  • Doug says:

    OUCH! Her teachers should give her something else to play. What on earth is wrong with musicians these days?

  • Alfredo says:

    Music is more than technic, it is a message in a soul’s code. So the technic is just the recipient, if she shows the spirit of the music, from her little heart directly to the public heart, then technic doesn’t have any importance, of course I’m Jennifer’s father

  • William G says:

    I’d love to hear her play some music…

  • Andrew Condon says:

    The piece is actually called Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Pugnani) by Kreisler. Its certainly not known as Kreisler’s Allegro. I sincerely hope she played the work complete as the Allegro by itself is rather like playing the Saint Saens Rondo Capriccioso without the preceeding Introduction.

  • Milka says:

    “Alfredo ,Jennifer’s father “if you truly love your daughter then consider a different teacher, also do not enter her into these
    brainless competitions.

  • Margaret Heywood says:

    Loads of potential, but would like to hear something that shows her musicianship. Something much slower to show her tonal qualities. Technique good but needs some

  • 110 says:

    I would say amazing,but I can’t.
    I think the dexterity is this child’s strength and that was the facet used in order to impress the jury.
    When the slower end came…..well….not so great
    Future will tell.

  • Jeff says:

    How can anyone in their right mind comment so critically and disdainfully on the playing of a 9 year old? You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    • Tom says:

      Because some of us understand the responsibilities that come with teaching instrumental playing and take it seriously. For this reason, we value a child’s proper development as instrumentalists and musicians. Someone turning them into an act for a dog and pony show is not laudable.

      Sure, there have been extraordinary child prodigies aged 9 and no doubt there will be others in the future. Jennifer Panebianco just doesn’t qualify as a prodigy, age notwithstanding. Read my comment below, which explains why I am critical of the video. I’m not critical of Jennifer per se, since she’s just a little kid who does as she’s told. Others deserve criticism for what she’s playing and how she plays it.

  • Tom says:

    Nothing particularly earth-shattering about this girl. Yes, she plays quite well for her age, but she still has problems playing the piece. Saying that she “outplays Kreisler” is like saying that Jackie Evancho “outsings Puccini,” i.e., patently nonsensical.

    Even though watching her coached movements make me want to throw up, Brianna Kahane’s playing Monty’s Czardas at 7 is far better than Jennifer Panebianco’s playing (viz. YouTube).

    Sara Chang playing the Carmen Phantasy in 1993 is what a truly precocious talent should sound like. Sirena Huang, at 11, likewise, has the real stuff, and so does Nathan Meltzer, also 11, when he plays Hubay (all can be viewed on YouTube).

    The greatest prodigy of the last couple of decades who has actually developed into an amazing young violinist is Tianwa Yang. Her playing was amazing even when she was 10 years old or so – listen to her performance of Paganini’s No.16 in G Minor on YouTube. Her recent recordings of Sarasate’s complete works are nothing short of extraordinary.

    When you watch videos of the multitude of various child violin “prodigies” on YouTube, you come away disgusted because teachers wanting to create a name for themselves give the poor kids pieces that are way too difficult for them to play properly. In my opinion (and that of others that I know) this basically amounts to pedagogical malpractice, because it messes up the kids’ technique and turns them into automatons who are clueless about expressing the music other than as a technical challenge to rattle off. Eventually, their chances of becoming great musicians later on in life is damaged beyond repair in the vast majority of cases.

    Jennifer Panebianco belongs in this category of automatons, and so does Brianna Kahane though her technique is a smidge better than Panebianco’s. The stage affectation coaching (or viewing of videos of great, mature soloists and then imitating their gestural mannerisms) is unfortunately totally off-putting to a knowledgeable musician in the latter’s case.

  • Tom says:

    Alfredo, if you’re Jennifer’s father and are perceptive enough to write that “music is more than technic,” then why do you allow your daughter’s teacher to give her music to study which is technically too difficult for her, causing music to be completely absent from her performance?

  • richard carlisle says:

    Sweetly stunning/surprising vigor … sound setup unfortunately deficient.

  • alfredo says:

    because you are making a SO BIG matter of a 9 years old girls that is just no more than 2 month studying this piece, it is a domestic video that I posted on my faceboock for domestic use, and no pretention, the piece is not ready 100% and also was played at 9 in the morning jajajajajajaja, no body is comparing jennifer with those genius you mention, anyway I have to tell you that Jennifer is absolutely NOT an automaton she is extremely musical as she doesn’t plann the major parts of the pieces she play( believe or not) is very easy to write and write when you by yourself come and play at 9 years she was in may kreisler like this so you can critic in that horrible way, but Im sure that if you were this kind of musician or artist in general the wave to behave in front of a nine years girl were better, thanks for making the comment number 20, thats good!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tom says:

      I am in no way making a big matter of Jennifer’s playing. Mr. Lebrecht is. If the world’s most widely read blog about classical music gives Jennifer such a resounding endorsement (I presume Mr. Lebrecht wasn’t being sarcastic when writing the headline, etc.), then that endorsement merits debate.

      If you post something for unrestricted public viewing on YouTube, you must surely be aware that the content can become widely circulated. As someone who has been involved in classical music education, specifically string instruments, for more than 45 years, I feel a compunction to give a professional opinion about the video, lest other parents get into their heads that their 5-year old can be endorsed on the basis of a YouTube video by a blog as significant as Mr. Lebrecht’s by the time they’re 9 years old.

      As I am sure you are aware, many crazy postings on YouTube have developed into viral fads that have cost people their lives. I am in no way saying, that Jennifer’s video can cost anyone their life, of course. What I am saying, is that blowing the video out of proportion to the talent exhibited can cause mental trauma for kids with overly ambitious parents (again, I’m not in any way implying that you are such a parent).

      Unfortunately, I have seen way too many cases of parents pressuring their kids into playing and practicing because they think their little baby will make them famous. Parental ambition is no way limited to a child’s study of classical instruments. I am merely speaking about the field where I have due expertise. It is very sad to observe children whose natural enjoyment of learning and making music is distorted by excessive parental ambition on their behalf. Most often, children who are exposed to such ambition either grow disgusted with the instrument they play by the time they enter their rebellious teenage years. Worst case, they end up as neurotic musicians.

      Neither is, obviously, a desirable outcome for any responsible instrumental teacher. But just as parents can become overly ambitious on behalf of their child, likewise a teacher can see a child as his/her ticket to fame and riches as a professor at Juilliard if the child becomes a new Midori. It’s a fact that very, very few children have the talent to become the next Midori, so parents and teachers who directly or indirectly collude in pressuring their otherwise normally talented child/student may make the child miserable, potentially for life.

      It is great if you encourage Jennifer in her playing and feel proud of her. That is the natural and healthy role of a parent whose child is studying an instrument or engaged in any other activity. The main thing is that she enjoys herself and learns to love classical and other styles of music. However, her talent should not be overblown beyond what it is: Certainly she has a promising talent and potential, though it’s nothing extraordinary enough to warrant Mr. Lebrecht’s overblown enthusiasm.

      Mr. Lebrecht can be as enthusiastic about whom he wants in any way he wants as is his right. But this article needs to include some words of warning to those who may misunderstand the level of talent involved in the video. Perhaps calling Jennifer an “automaton” was unduly harsh on my part, for which I apologize. The remainder of what I’ve written is, as previously said, my opinion based on many years of experience, and is in no way meant as a critique of Jennifer personally. It is a word of caution for parents and – if you will – a critical look at the repertoire her teacher has given her to play at her current level of instrumental and musical development.

  • Milka says:

    I suspect the kuffufle is really about
    the odd statement that a 9 year old child outplays Kreisler in his own work.
    Why would Mr. Lebrecht make such an odd
    statement ? That the 9 year old child seems a victim of ambitious parents
    is strongly supported by their posting
    her efforts on youtube otherwise why
    post for the world to hear and see.
    Of course every ambitious violin parent is looking for the next Yehudi Menuhin in their little virtuoso, but alas
    that ship has sailed , times are different , Yehudi Menuhin was
    a phenomenon who paid a dear price
    in later life for being the enchanter
    in his early years , just as Ysaye predicted . Tom cannot be faulted
    in his observations .he is spot on …
    The sad thing is what ambitious
    parents , & unscrupulous teachers do to children, how many lives are ruined
    in pursuit of fame and money . As for
    Alfredo’s response he should perhaps read Hamlet and the scene with the observation that
    “the lady protests too much etc “.

    • Tom says:

      I wouldn’t blame the parents for putting their child’s video on YouTube. It is, after all, an excellent way of sharing special moments with family, friends and other interested viewers.

      Where a line does get crossed, however, is when a professional blog written by a person knowledgeable about music and respected in the classical music biz suddenly thrusts the video into the limelight of a far larger audience than it was presumably meant for.

      I’ve said enough about the matter already, so I shall refrain from further opinions since those I find relevant in this case have now been given in full.

  • Steve says:

    The title sports a typographical error, it should read,

    “When a 9 year-old plays Kreisler”.

    Yes. We see exactly what happens when a 9 year old plays Kreisler. Predictably, inevitably, the performance represents no more than anyone who knows well enough should expect from a student of slightly above average talent playing fast notes with approximate intonation and an undeveloped tone. Don’t think I’d want to hear her rendition of Midnight Bells or Londonderry Air…would you?

    We’ve all heard actual prodigies; Menuhin, Rabin, Midori, Chang, etc.

    Nobody has ever, or will ever, “outplay” Fritz Kreisler. Kreisler is one of a handful of the greatest violin artists and composers who ever lived. His beautiful and sincere playing and his expressive technique were revolutionary for his time and were the inspiration for not just millions of listeners but for later generations of virtuosi, including Heifetz and Oistrakh. Fritz Kreisler is Fritz Kreisler – just like Van Gogh is Van Gogh; the rest is… the rest.

  • Anonymus says:

    Besides her technical skills she seems to have a natural talent for rhythm. She also has temper and seems impatient with the music at hand, hence her rushing at places. She plays the violin like a percussion instrument. But she seems not to sing, to shape melody well, there she seems very underdeveloped. Instead of making her a showcase of percussive violin playing, well sometimes violin beating, I would as a teacher at this point focus more on her tonal and melodic weaknesses.

  • Leo says:

    I can comprehend this article only as a joke. What words fail whom? This is absolutely normal mediocre playing, a bit ahead of age (usually 10-11) and a bit ahead of tempo (but I would much perfer the sound quality) A lot of kids do much better and always did (from 0:57) or or many others.

  • Mark says:

    I believe that Kreisler never recorded his ‘Praeludium und Allegro’ but it would surely have sounded WAY nicer than this. The title of the post ‘outplays Kreisler’ is very misleading.

  • Chris says:

    Check this out for an impressive child prodigy performance.