Los Angeles Violoncello Society
Recital Review: February 15, 2004

by Chrys Wu

It's not every day that you see a cello used as a percussion instrument. But Lynn Angebranndt played hers as if hammering away on the strings with a pencil was the way things were meant to be. Accompanied by flautist Julie Long, the two gave a fiery rendition of movements II, VI, and VIII from Reza Vali's "Folk Songs" (Set No. 9). While Movement II involved fingerboard strikes and a pencil, Movement VIII set even higher demands, requiring Angebranndt to play cello and tom (drum) simultaneously. Again she approached her part with plenty of enthusiasm, looking completely unfazed as she pounded out the dervish-like rhythm. Ending with a lusty "hey!" Long and Angebranndt had the audience cheering and whooping their approval.

By contrast, Alexander Suleiman's rendition of Alfred Schnittke's "Madrigal in Memoriam Oleg Kagan" demonstrated the cello as an unearthly mourner. With the opening E-G-A-G-A notes -- a play on Kagan's name -- the somber and long-fingered Suleiman coaxed tonally perfect cries from his instrument, seizing the audience's attention with his intense, mostly senza vibrato performance.

The day's last performer, Ruslan Biryukov, attacked Astor Piazzola's "La Grand Tango" as though his life depended on it. Despite a little trouble with his double-stops, Biryukov poured passion through his instrument, playing with sonorous authority that was occasionally overwhelmed by the grand piano accompaniment.

In a city obsessed with what's new, it seemed only fitting for the Los Angeles Violoncello Society to have presented a recital of contemporary cello works. Sunday's free concert featured additional performances by Stephen Custer, Jerry Kessler, Jakub Omsky, Daniel Rothmuller, Marek Szpakiewicz, and Maxim Velichkin.

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