The best time to break a new artist?

The best time to break a new artist?


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2020

Decca thinks that, with nothing else going on, this is the moment to launch its youngest-ever signing.

Christian Li is a 12 year-old Australian.

The launch track is a Chinese folksong, smooched up for the international market.



  • Dufh says:

    “a new artist”
    a kid.

    “youngest-ever signing.”
    perhaps we can say: Freakshow

    “a 12 year-old Australian”
    haha! An Asian.

    The only redeeming thing seems to be the pseudo-Chinese track.

    “smooched up”
    Yes. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • Andy O says:

      >“a 12 year-old Australian”
      >haha! An Asian.

      So if you’re of Asian descent, you can’t ever be an Australian national? Is that what you mean? Only people descended from Europeans are “real” Aussies?

      Racist much?

      • Kolb Slaw says:

        Music is cultural, far more than the finger wiggling we get from too many Asians. Different values.

    • fliszt says:

      Ok, Dufh, let’s move your attitude to a different era, earlier in the 20th century, and let’s say that a major record company released a recording by a 12 year old Russian named Heifetz. So, you would dismiss him as a kid, and say “He’s not a Russian, he’s a Jew!” Pal, take your attitude and stick up where the sun doesn’t shine!

      • Elle-Marie says:

        Do you really think your argument suddenly gets more validity, because you mention a jew?
        No. Rather: You’re just a very small step away from invoking Reductio ad Hitlerum.

        The point is: you do not understand the point being made. Which is: it’s about culture, and that runs deeper than moving some fingers. (But yes: Wow, can they move those fingers quickly!)
        Put another way: Too many Asians abandon the rich heritage of their OWN identity, cultural music and instruments, and simply conform to the west.
        We need to tell them: Stop selling out, just for your typical west: continental breakfast, classical music, blue jeans, business man’s suit, etc. You have a OWN culture. Embrace it and please rather show me that! Thanks.

        • M2N2K says:

          No matter how much truth there is in stereotypes, they are never accurate for every single person of a certain group. In my long life in classical music, I encountered quite a few “Asians” who played with more true expressiveness and exquisite taste than most “Europeans”. Remember MLK’s words and get rid of your prejudices: every person should be valued according to his/her own qualities.

  • Jeremy Atkin says:

    Surely it’s a good time to launch. Folk need some distraction and entertainment

  • Lady Weidenfeld says:

    Norman I am not surprised they are launching him any time! He is amazing and we discovered him on Keshet Eilon’s on line gala on May 18th to be found on YouTube! I am sure they don’t want to wait until the virus goes away and he is an old man! There will be many more recordings to come. Watch this space…

  • Fiddlist says:

    That’s a really classy video actually. The kid might have some serious innate musicianship.

    • Bruce says:

      I definitely got that impression when he was featured on here earlier. There was a link to the finals of whatever competition he won: each finalist had to lead the chamber orchestra in a baroque concerto. I didn’t watch every finalist, but the ones I saw mostly seemed to stand there and play their piece while the group followed them. He actually seemed to be leading and listening.

      Just because he’s freakishly talented doesn’t mean he isn’t (or won’t become) an artist.

  • e r says:

    Artist? Let’s wait a bit on that please?

    • Sam says:

      e r, what? His young age does not preclude him from being an artist. Was Mozart not an artist when he wrote operas and concerti at the same age? The kid is phenomenal, and yes, an artist. Absolutely. Young, but an artist all the same. Like all artists, he will evolve until he plays his last note, hopefully after a long and rewarding life, but he already has a lot to say with his music.

      • Jay says:

        He ain’t no Mozart and he ain’t no artist.

      • e r says:

        It is impossible to say to what depth his talent will develop at this early stage, and predicated on the superficial repertoire he is presenting. If he were to audition for me, playing this schlock, I would consider him a very talented youngster with potential to become an artist. But – there are many, many pitfalls along the way. I am simply urging caution – lets wait and see.

    • Kolb Slaw says:

      It’s shocking how many readers here, who presumably have standards, will support exploitation of a child player.

  • Fred says:

    Sounds good to me! I would think that any industry–Classical music record labels included–would be insane to ignore the Chinese market.

    We have plenty of pap for dubious Western tastes, after all.

    • Dumb Monkey Boyz says:

      Yeah… cause it’s all just an “industry” and a “market”.

      (Now where’s my monkey-banana-applause?)

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    That is just so offensive, to every musician over 30, to every musician who slowly and deliberately builds up their artistry to real and high levels. Why can’t listeners distinguish a flash-in-the-pan from real gold? The industry conspires to keep out real artists.

  • Peter Mecoles says:

    I have seen him live and he is absolutely phenomenal. The trolls on this site should pull in their horns lower their tails and slink off to where they came from.

  • Joe says:

    Decca really don’t have much credibility left. They’ve deteriorated from recording top artists in the past, to signing up musicians like this guy and a few others…

  • M2N2K says:

    Not bad, but he is too old already – says Himari Yoshimura.