A Russian Spectacular, Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

First off was Natalia Gutman. (Is there a greater woman cellist alive - and why is she not playing concertos in London?) She has the longest, slowest bow in the business while reaping the largest sound imaginable. With her accompanist, the cellist Alexander Rudin (later to take his place in the gang of six), in Prokofiev's C major Sonata, all the ironic bitter-sweetness of its sophisticated simplicity was delightfully caught.

Leonid Gorokhov brought Schnittke's Suite in the Old Style, a cod-baroque piece drawn from film music - so out of the eye of the censor. Only its chilling ending gave the game away, Gorokhov's dead-pan elegance with fast, light bow belying the message. And in Tchaikovsky's Melodie, lyricism in the thin-air zone of the fingerboard was effortlessly demonstrated.

David Geringas, unaccompanied, in Peteris Vasks' demanding Das Buch created the sort of hush where breathing itself seemed inappropriate. It's almost a contemporary compendium of what a cello can do (including singing with himself) - but how many cellists are capable of doing it?

The baby of the bunch, at 21, was Sergei Suvorov, who knocked the socks off the audience in Rimsky-Korsakov's Le coq d'Or' Fantasy with his effortless, unbridled virtuosity.

Ivan Monighetti followed in Penderecki's unaccompanied Divertimento, a work dedicated to Pergamenschikow, and played with touching awareness. And finally, Alexander Rudin in Arensky's Danse Capricieuse played with effortless control, followed by Andrei Golovin's sorrowfully flowing lament Elegy. A rare tribute of outstanding performance and musicianship.