ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Vanessa-Mae Ð The Classical Album
WORKS: Partita No. 3 in E, BWV 1006; Brahms: Scherzo; Beethoven: Romance in F, Op. 50; Bruch: Scottish Fantasy
PERFORMER: Vanessa-Mae (violin), Pamela Nicholson (piano); LSO/Viktor Fedotov
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55395 2
Reviewing The Classical Album has been one of the most enjoyable tasks I have ever performed for BBC Music Magazine. The disc itself is nothing special, but reading the accompanying eight-page press release has been highly entertaining. This extraordinary litany of spin-doctored soundbites proclaims Vanessa-Mae’s genius with evangelical fervour. Such verbiage is, of course, aimed at the ‘pop’ market, but the snide asides about her ‘breaking through the elitism and stuffiness’ of the classical world suggest attempts to generate an artificial scandal should the disc receive poor reviews from the classical sector.
I have no fundamental objections to the populist approach taken by the violinist (or rather her agent) and so I do not feel the least bit stuffy or elitist in saying that these are relatively weak performances. They could be matched or surpassed by any number of music-college students. Vanessa-Mae’s thin, weedy sound is astonishingly unseductive for a performer who is being marketed for her supposed sex-appeal. In fact, she sounds a good deal less impressive than in her performances as a ‘wunderkind’ made when she was about half her current age of 19 years old. She has talent, but she is certainly not exceptional. Christopher Dingle