In addition to countless recording sessions run by others, he started to release his own finely crafted CDs. Suddenly, he was the New York cellist of choice, but his own releases demonstrated that he was also a gifted composer and arranger who reveled in crossing genre boundaries, utilizing influences from Eastern Europe and the Americas as well as from Asia.
He never really left the classics and session work behind, and he has appeared on countless recordings, but the traditional technique that he developed early has also served him well in more radical contexts. Friedlander can bow beautiful long legato phrases, but he has also expanded the vocabulary of the cello in many directions, plucking, bowing, and drumming an amazing variety of sounds from his instrument. He can fit himself into any context, but he can also perform alone, playing multiple lines and accompanying himself with the kind of self-sufficiency one expects only from a pianist. His fine sense of musical structure, so apparent in his compositions, is also evident in his solo improvisations.
Erik Friedlander is at the Kerrytown Concert House on Saturday, April 24.
[Originally published in April, 2004.]