The Daily Telegraph
By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
A MUSIC critic who dared impugn the virtuosity of Vanessa-Mae, the heavily-marketed wunderkind 18-year-old British violinist, has had the tables turned on him.
She has taken out a half-page advertisement in his paper demanding to know his qualifications as a reviewer. Under the headline "Fiddler doesn't raise the roof", Rick Jones, music critic of the London Evening Standard, said her tour was "falling apart at the seams".
Reviewing her concert of popular classics at Fairfield Hall, Croydon, he attacked her supporting musicians, said her performance "limped like a three-legged dog on to the stage" and suggested that she had developed a persecution complex. Vanessa-Mae (real name Vanessa Mae Nicholson) has cultivated a pop-style image by appearing on stage in pink hot pants and almost naked on an album cover.
She was once known as the "Teeny Paganini" because she shares the same birth date as Paganini. Mr Jones's pay-off line was to question whether this was a piece of recording company hype. He wrote: "Paganini's birthday, my foot. Show us the birth certificate."
In her advertisement in yesterday's London Evening Standard, Vanessa-Mae reproduced her birth certificate, showing that she was born on Oct 27 — Paganini's birthdate. She also gives an almost full CV of her training and brief professional career, complete with glowing newspaper reviews.
She then adds: "Your turn, Mr Jones — what are your professional credentials? Are you a musician — do you play or write music? Are you rated as a musician? If so, who by?"
Mr Jones said yesterday: "Being a critic is not about whether I am rated as a musician. It is about whether people agree with me or not." He added that his music training began as a chorister at Norwich Cathedral.
Vanessa-Mae's two-week tour of Britain was hit when the Employment Department upheld a complaint from the Musicians' Union and refused to give work permits to members of the Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra, due to back her. Her performances have gone ahead with freelance players, including her mother.