A child? A prodigy?

September 5, 2013 at 01:10 AM · I have recently been to his concert and was not sure what to think. Somehow his sound and playing was not so impressive although he was hugely advertised as a phenomenon.

Replies (20)

September 5, 2013 at 09:51 AM · He's just a fine young violinist. Too old to be a prodigy and... Mozart? Move along.

September 5, 2013 at 08:43 PM · You want wunderkind, you listen to Mutter, Rabin, etc.

There is certainly a combination of technique, musicality and knowing the right people that will bring the talent to light. We had a 7 year old at the International Music Institute and Festival this year; she played Zigeunerweisen...perfectly, and given the quarter size violin (or was it smaller?) she was as musical as is possible on a violin that size. That's wunderkind material.

In this kid, I hear someone that has talent and potential, both words which when told to you by teachers or anyone, should be taken as a sign that you need to practice more seriously (personal experience)

Thanks-Emmanuel

September 5, 2013 at 11:59 PM · He's a very good violinist but a prodigy, how could one say in that video... Maybe he plays some more challenging things in other venues (not that Mozart isn't challenging... just that every student played that one even if in a lesser level most often!)

I could never do better so I won't give too many opinions (as it could be seen as snooty :) except that I found that it lacked strengh and dynamic contrasts. Mozart should be light but too little dynamic contrast and the quest of technical perfection makes it boring (not just in his performance but in general too) I would like to see more energy, but unforced kind of course...

Nevertheless, so many people would want to melt under the floor to be at his place at that moment, that is truly admirable...

Anne-Marie

September 6, 2013 at 07:18 AM · He is 16 so no longer a child - but, reading his biography, he could certainly have been called a prodigy, performing as a solist with an orchestra at age 8. Read all about him here:

http://www.elinkolev.de/en/elin.php

That said, it looks to me as if he is heavily marketed (which is, I think the OP's underlying point). The question is, is he yet another 'prodigy gone good' or a prospective 'prodigy going great'! Others here can judge his playing far better than I can (read above) but my impression was similar; that he is technically very much at ease but (for me) fails to connect at that 'je n'est ce pas' essential emotional level. I doubt that after performing since age dot with orchestras and in competitions - and judging from his demeanor I don't think there is an anxiety factor so I take him as he is.

If you look him up on youtube its quite astonishing how many of the uploades are recorded TV programs extolling his genius - and how few are of actual pieces that he plays. He is obviously very, very talented and able - but I find these fawning presentations rather distracting: the only way for me to get to know a musician is, well, to hear him play great music. Let fame take care of itself...

September 6, 2013 at 08:17 AM · Hi,

Here is another video for those who want to hear something other than Mozart. In it is Ravel's Tzigane and Ysa├┐e's Third Solo Sonata "Ballade."

September 6, 2013 at 11:37 AM · Greetings,

we have this debate every now and again and really it boils down to how you define `prodigy.` For me it is having an effortless technique and something approaching the artistic soul/maturity/intellect of of a great artist in the frame of someone roughly between the age of five and ten. I say approaching because even in the young Menuhin for example in his awesome recording of the Elgar I still get a little sense of immaturity at odd moments.

Under this rubric I cannot call this player a prodigy. His left hand technique needs a lot of work and the Mozart exposes cruelly his intonational misses where the flashier works don`t. Compare this with the child Mutter`s Mozart and the difference is obvious.

I also find his vibrato tedious and somewhat unimaginative and there is hardly a more crucial factor in defining a great artist (unless you included everything else;))

Superb talent yes. Interesting enough to make a recording etc.

Not for me.

Cheers,

Buri

September 6, 2013 at 02:37 PM · All depends on how you define it.

I think a conductor once said that there was only ever one child prodigy in the world so far and not even Mozart and Menuhin would qualify. He thought it was displaying from day one "artistic maturity" at a young age and Mozart's early composition and Menuhin's playing as a young child (further, not forgetting his biographer's claim that his father had deliberately under-declared his age although it is arguable by how many years) did not quite hit the mark, making in his view, Saint Saens the unique one.

By this [artistic maturity] high standard even near-technical perfection before 10 is insufficient, much less this age.

Having said that, admittedly as a marketing strategy/term, it "works" [in my past experience as a presenter]. It sells tickets and brings in the gullible, the curious, the healthily sceptical and many others. However, I remember it once backfired when a Russian "prodigy" [taught by Boyarsky & Markov] was marketed as such when she performed the Beethoven violin concerto at the Royal Albert Hall. The poor child was mercilessly savaged by a highly respected Kodaly expert in her review.

September 6, 2013 at 03:35 PM · Yes, let's hope the promoters don't ruin his potential or future development.

September 6, 2013 at 04:12 PM · Better to have a career as a musician than a career as a prodigy. The career as a prodigy has a sell-by date! I hate to see any person exploited for the condition of being a child. This one is obviously very musical, let him be and grow.

September 6, 2013 at 09:52 PM · Plays absolutely brilliant, sounds good, looks happy.

What are you all complaining about?

Jealous?

September 6, 2013 at 10:39 PM · This last post is inaccurate in a number of ways.

First of all there is no complaint. If one takes the trouble to read the original post carefully it is easy for anyone to understand the discussion is about whether or not this teenager/adult is a prodigy.

That necessarily included a discussion of the definition of the term prodigy and where he fits in relation to that which in turn would require some reasonable observation of his actual playing ability.

Rather than trying to second guess peoples motivations one could at least try evaluating the playing within the context of generally recognized prodigies.

Do you think his Mozart is flawless? Can you hear the intonation problems?

If you think yes to the former and no to the latter then maybe the discussion is rather pointless and we should just scream epithets at each other. Doesn`t usually achieve much though.

September 6, 2013 at 10:53 PM · the most recent child prodigy i can think of is this kid:

After hearing this, it becomes clear the answer to the original post.

Child prodigy doesn't just mean a child with technique or someone playing difficult repertoire. There are 1000000 of those. Child prodigy also does not mean the violinist has to burn out and OD on cocaine or something. For me, a child prodigy should mean someone who is a complete product (artistically and technically) at a extraordinarily young age - like Menuhin, Varga, Mutter, Rabin, etc - and this boy.

September 6, 2013 at 11:20 PM · The first wunderkind stood around holding his violin awkwardly before he started, and was very matter-of-fact while he played. The second wunderkind looked like der wahre Jacob -- he had the full package with expressions and movement like a passionate virtuoso. After that recent stuff with how we are susceptible to visuals, I would not trust myself to compare them unless I did it without the video.

September 6, 2013 at 11:29 PM · I really like what Laurie had to say. I really don't have anything to add to it.

September 7, 2013 at 01:07 AM · Child Prodigy? I don't know. I think this label might fit him better if

he was playing with a good sounding strad or guarneri. To my ears, this one doesn't sound too good. Could be the sound system maybe?

September 8, 2013 at 01:22 PM · "Better to have a career as a musician than a career as a prodigy."

Agreed, Laurie put it best.

September 16, 2013 at 03:03 AM · Does anyone know what has become of Werner Schnitzler? He certainly exhibited a passion and conviction one associates with the temperament of a true artist. It's clear he was well trained but you can see in his zeal and ardor the makings of a fine artist. I hope he did not burn out or quit. It would be interesting to know what became of him. As for the player whose video of the Mozart that is featured, I agree with both Buri and Laurie. He has his intonation issues and a certain predictable manner with the bow and vibrato but he is certainly talented and has a reasonably relaxed, calm demeanor and a certain poise. He should be allowed to grow and develop and not be marketed or pushed.

It is an ill of society- we expect so much from our youngsters, and push them and manage them beyond what their childhood needs and deserves. Is this necessarily what the child wants or does their talent mainly serve the interests of the parents and teacher who are hoping "theirs" is the next wunderkind. I'm sure there are parents and teachers who simply develop the talent as they see it and are able to nurture it without psychological harm and undue pressure, but sadly, it is often the other way around.

I would rather hear a violinist whose progress is steady, assured, and who maintains a love of music throughout his/her life than to hear a violinist who has to live up to impossible expectations and cannot be free to just enjoy playing at whatever level and enjoy communicating that love of music to whatever audience is there to appreciate it whether it is Carnegie Hall or the next door neighbor.

There is a saying I keep in my studio, " The woods would be very silent if only those birds sing which sing best".

September 16, 2013 at 03:41 AM · I played the Mozart concerto two years ago pretty fine at the age of 13. If this were a more challenging piece, I would definitely say he is talented. As for prodigy, like others have said, it must be younger child, about smaller than 10 years old I'd say as a rough estimate.

September 16, 2013 at 06:12 PM · Ronald: this page has info on Werner up to 2008 but then the trail seems to go cold...

http://www.konzertbuero-braun.de/site/kuenstlerliste/solisten/item-65-func-detail.htm

September 17, 2013 at 02:07 AM ·

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