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Los Angeles Times
Violinist Vanessa-Mae Ends U.S. Tour in Varied Concert; Home Edition


Los Angeles Times Monday December 2, 1996
Home Edition
Calendar, Page 5
Type of Material: Concert Review

Depending on the artist, "crossover" can mean many different things. And if the artist is Vanessa-Mae, it can mean many things at once, as it did Saturday when the 18-year-old violinist and her band played Billboard Live on the final stop of her first U.S. tour.
A classically trained prodigy who made her professional debut at 10, Vanessa-Mae--who was born in Singapore and lives in England--had no qualms about dropping an acoustic mini-recital into the middle of her 90-minute show. Brahms' Scherzo from the "F.A.E." Sonata found her sweet-toned and blithe in the movement's more lyric moments, though occasionally forcing the sound from her Guadagnini violin in some ugly double-stops on the lower strings.
She also offered a suitably light but under-characterized account of Kreisler's "Schon Rosmarin" and a nimble romp through a Paganini one-string stunt piece. Her capable accompanist was her mother, Pamela Nicholson.
Playing MIDI violin with a versatile sextet, Vanessa-Mae delivered techno-fusion versions of much-arranged classical favorites--Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Paganini's CapriceNo. 24--and straight pop in a variety of styles, much of it from her hot-selling recording "The Violin Player" and much of it reminiscent of Scarlet Rivera's late '70s albums, recorded before Vanessa-Mae was born.
Her most nuanced playing came in two songs, an amazing copy of Whitney Houston's phrasing on "I Will Always Love You" and her own haunting, world-beat elaboration on the Scottish folk song "I'm a Doun for Lack of Johnny."
The latter is a tune Max Bruch used in his "Scottish Fantasy," which is featured on Vanessa-Mae's newest classical recording. The considerable impact of "I'm a Doun," which Vanessa-Mae subtitles "A Little Scottish Fantasy," suggests that her multifaceted crossover energies might better be devoted to the creation of new inter-stylistic pieces rather than to de-contrapuntalized Bach.
Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times, 1996.
JOHN HENKEN, MUSIC REVIEW; Violinist Vanessa-Mae Ends U.S. Tour in Varied Concert; Home Edition., Los Angeles Times, 12-02-1996, pp F-5.


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