Blonde ambition of violinist who turned down `Baywatch'

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The Independent Online
Linda Lampenius bears an uncanny resemblance to the "Baywatch babe", Pamela Anderson, and has even been offered a part in the American television show. But she has turned down screen glory, insisting her talents lie in a more serious direction.

The 27-year-old Finn is a virtuoso violinist who has capitalised on her ample talents to further her musical ambitions.

Until recently she was known only as the leader of the Sibelius Academy Orchestra in Helsinki, but Ms Lampenius - who will take the stage name Linda Brava, when her first album, Violator, is released in Britain this summer - is the latest in a string of classically trained musicians who have marketed themselves as much on their sex appeal as their talent.

Vanessa-Mae, the Singapore-born violinist, was filmed wading through the sea in a clinging transparent dress and the German musician Anne-Sophie Mutter is often photographed in revealing outfits.

However, for all Ms Lampenius's charms, some are less than impressed. Adrian Jack, a critic who writes for The Independent, last night dismissed the trend for dressing-down as a cynical marketing scam.

"I have not heard of her [Ms Lampenius] but it sounds to me like a repulsive marketing thing," he said. "I am very sceptical about using this method to sell yourself. As far as I am concerned Vanessa-Mae is of modest talent and it is just pure sensationalism. Anne-Sophie is talented but then she does not go to quite the same lengths as Vanessa-Mae.

"I just don't believe it is encouraging a real interest in classical music at all, people will just go to the concerts to stare."

But Ms Lampenius, who has had rave reviews in Scandinavia for her up- tempo version of Bach's Toccata and Fugue, has clearly seduced other critics.

"Linda can do things with a fiddle that will bring tears to your eyes. She performs her classical repertoire in spray-on latex bodysuits, swaying her hips gently with a hint of a smile playing around her full lips," gushed one smitten journalist last week.

She was virtually unknown until last autumn when, in a televised performance with the Finnish National Opera Orchestra, the programme's director refused to move his camera away from her, and the nation was gripped.

Reiha Kokkola, a spokesman for her record company said: "Linda is technically very gifted. She is master of the classical violin and no matter how big a star she becomes, she will remain a serious musician."

Still, if it doesn't work out, Ms Lampenius has a range of ambitions outside music. "I am still finding time for my other interests such as boxing, motor-racing, acting and getting involved in local politics," she said.

Kate Watson-Smyth