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Mellow cello

It's always fun when the spotlight at Kleinhans Music Hall shoots to Roman Mekinulov, the orchestra's principal cellist. When he and his cello take center stage, you know something exciting is going to happen. This weekend, Mekinulov will be the soloist in Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme."

Born in St. Petersburg, Mekinulov is bound to bring the music that certain Russian something. But the "Variations on a Rococo Theme" is universal in its beauty and feeling. The piece is one of Tchaikovsky's numerous tributes to Mozart, his musical hero. The theme Tchaikovsky came up with reflects the grace of the Classical style -- and the variations, too, look back to Mozart with their eloquence and restrained passion.

The rest of the program reflects other facets of the Russian soul. It begins with Prokofiev's "Overture on Hebrew Themes" and ends with Tchaikovsky's mighty "Pathetique" Symphony.

Today's performance by Mekinulov and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is at 10:30 a.m.; Saturday's is at 8 p.m. For information, call 885-5000.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

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