And then? And then he schleps that fabulous fiddle all over creation, suffers the gushing compliments of local classical-radio personalities at CD signings in Borders stores - "Let's have a question from some of the kids here today," he says politely but pointedly at one Saturday-morning autograph fest - and apologizes for wolfing down a very late lunch while trying to hold a conversation. He's on stage in a few hours and hasn't eaten since 8 a.m.

"Oh, I've given up on the art, didn't you know that?" He flashes a smile, then buckles down: "Seriously? I don't actually mind this other aspect that much. This job is full of things that aren't musical. From just getting on the airplanes to redoing interviews where the tape machine didn't work." He winks and smiles indulgently at the recorder placed near him. It's working. But he's learned to ask. He may look like a boy wonder, but the guy's a pro.

In the privacy of this quiet afternoon conversation, both a little of his guard and the neck of that pullover have come down a bit: An angry red splotch is visible near his left collarbone, the bite of the violin's chin rest, below the corresponding rough patch of skin on his left jawline. "I'm not the most efficient player," he confesses. "I'm very physical. Not like [Jascha] Heifetz, my idol. He was the most economical player. Not a single muscle moved that didn't need to move. I tend to err on the other side, moving around without thinking about it, getting into it physically.

"Of course, I don't practice a lot." He laughs cheerily. "I mean, I don't do five hours a day and that kind of thing. I learned at an early age, when I was also into sports, to get a lot done in a short amount of practice time. Now, if I have three days off between concerts, I'll take two of those days without touching the instrument. I've just started doing yoga with a personal trainer. Yoga may be my key for the next 30 years."