15th Anniversary US Tour (March 2006)
Lincoln Center - Avery Fisher Hall
Lincoln Center - Avery Fisher Hall
Lincoln Center - Avery Fisher Hall
Center for the Arts Concert Hall
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
West Palm Beach
Jackie Gleason Theatre
Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Bob Carr Performing Arts Center
Copley Symphony Hall
Artemus Ham Hall
Davies Symphony Hall
Mondavi Center / Jackson Hall
Anderson Center Concert Theater
North Penn High School Auditorium
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Russia has no shortage of great orchestras and conductors, but the Russian National Orchestra occupies a unique place. Instead of a long tradition, it has brilliance on its side.
San Francisco Classical Voice
The RNO served the music well with an even, burnished tone, along with some mightily flexible tempos. The concert had its share of sentimental beauty, but kept enough energy and pith to leave the audience invigorated. The strings... have a remarkably smooth sound but with a solidity to it that excludes overlushness. [Rachmaninoff's Vocalise] was clear and straightforward, with no affectations or string sobbing...The other instruments followed the strings' lead and blended into the sound. A fine balance was maintained throughout... The orchestra played perfect Rachmaninoff harmonies, and like the Tchaikovsky suite, the concerto came to a startling finish that retroactively cast its bright glow over the entire performance.
What occurred was a depth of sound rarely heard... Mikhail Pletnev, founding music director of the Russian orchestra, conducted the Tchaikovsky [Fifth Symphony]. There was plenty to admire... Pletnev has a way of shaping a phrase that is extraordinarily plastic. One never quite knows what he is going to do, but the results made this ubiquitous work seem fresh… The first movement had the greatest dramatic temperament and the slow movement, moments of sober beauty. [Gerard Schwarz,] music director of the Seattle Symphony, conducted the Shostakovich [Fifth Symphony]. With the Largo, the emotional heart of the symphony, the reading became passionate and moving. And vivid in its details.
Santa Barbara News-Press
The Russian National Orchestra... is one of glasnost's finest fruits. It's the most intoxicating Russian export since Stoli, and in the 15 years of its existence it seems not to have missed a beat... The orchestra is at least as imaginative and entrepreneurial as any of its Western counterparts.... On Saturday evening, the orchestra belied its youthfulness by performing with a sense of style and unanimity that is usually the product of decades-long partnership... [Pletnev’s] "conductors collegium" have groomed an ensemble that's in the very first tier. Each section on its own plays wonderfully well, and together the musicians coalesce into an ensemble with both strength and finesse. Most notably, the orchestra renders loud music in an intimate way. Unlike virtually every other orchestra that comes down the proverbial pike, the Russian musicians – the woodwinds and brass, especially -- don't overplay...Throughout the evening, Mr. Pletnev led his musicians in performances that were highly satisfying in their sense of cultured colloquy. Lines were carefully shaped so that musical phrases became larger sentences, and sentences became paragraphs...The orchestra's performance was top drawer.... Among Russian orchestras, [Pletnev] has helped make the Russian National Orchestra…"the best band in the land."
The Seattle Times
This is what you call détente. The Seattle Symphony playing alongside the Russian National Orchestra, with players from both orchestras alternating so that each Seattleite is sitting next to a Russian — and conductors Mikhail Pletnev and Gerard Schwarz both taking turns on the podium... Approximately 150 instruments were on the stage... and they certainly created a powerful sound... RNO conductor Pletnev took the podium for the first half, Tchaikovsky's noble Symphony No. 5... It was an impassioned, fervent performance with an unforgettable sound, from the huge rumbly basses all the way to the elegant sheen of the first violins. Schwarz took over after intermission, with Seattle Symphony principals taking the solos in the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5... Schwarz conducted with great energy and authority, coaxing the combined forces along in the first movement and drawing a positive frenzy of brass in the finale... Together they all made a terrific orchestra, speaking that universal language of music.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Five years ago, the Russian National Orchestra came to Artemus Ham Hall and turned in one of the best classical music performances there in years. Friday evening, the orchestra returned and did the same.... The orchestra figuratively sang as it brought the silky, bright composition [Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise”] to life. The 99-member orchestra quickly filled the hall with its even, lush tones... The [Rachmaninov Third Piano] concerto featured grand work by the intense, young Russian pianist Alexander Mogilevsky [who] was complemented nearly without fault by the orchestra… After intermission, the orchestra returned for the wonderfully impressive Tchaikovsky. The piece is flowing and elegant, and the orchestra captured its layered emotions, keeping the light, lyric touch it requires while assuring that the music had the depth it deserved.
Seattle got a dose of Russian soul last night, with the arrival of the Russian National Orchestra in Benaroya Hall for an all-Russian program under the baton of Mikhail Pletnev. And just as in its Seattle debut in 2001, the capacity audience gave this exciting orchestra a rock-star ovation for playing that connected powerfully with the listeners... There are many estimable Russian orchestras... but the RNO has drawn a great deal of attention, not only for its status as Russia's only independent orchestra, but also for the youthful zest and expertise of its players. Those qualities were much in evidence on Tuesday evening, when Pletnev led the players... with an expressive hand that delineated details without micro-managing the music... The repeated ovations drew an encore, the famous Waltz from Tchaikovsky's "The Sleeping Beauty" - though few in the audience were ready to sleep after this adrenalin-charged evening.
"Vocalise" ... is undoubtedly one of the most haunting and beautiful melodies ever composed. The orchestra... played it with considerable beauty but without affectation. Never did it indulge in slush-pump gestures, giving the long-limbed tune a simplicity and seamlessness that made it appear to have hardly a beginning and no end...The Russian National Orchestra [gave Tchaikovsky's Third Suite] the sweet flow of melody abundant life. The string sound is ...lean, highly focused, transparent. The performance was one of grace and restrained emotional power.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
This was the kind of virtuosic performance that continuously pushes the envelope, with awesome results.... [The] infrequently performed Manfred Symphony gave the orchestra an opportunity to demonstrate its own brand of bravura.... Jurowski's limited gestures coaxed forth playing of accuracy and enthusiasm from his very well disciplined ensemble. String bowing was far more unified than many of their Western counterparts...
...the Russian National Orchestra represents a remarkable and remarkably successful break with the past. [This] self-governing orchestra is completely free of official support. Based on Sunday's concert, this new system is working more than adequately. In fact, it's humming along... The program consisted of only two works, and one would be hard-pressed to pick the better, as both were played superbly... Most impressive was the finale [of the Manfred Symphony]. By the end of the movement, even those in the balcony had felt the visceral force of the orchestra's crescendos.
San Diego Arts
The RNO played [Shostakovich's Festive Overture] with terrific spirit and brilliance... Orchestrally [Rachmaninov's Piano Conceto No. 2] was a stunning achievement.. The most memorable success of the concert, however, was the little known Tchaikovsky Suite [No. 3 in G Major]. This received simply ravishing treatment! Every moment was a revelation. The opening Élégie went to the very heart of Tchaikovsky. Pletnev’s spotlight was on the simple sincerity and matchless lyricism of music, which can often seem saccharine in lesser performances. The Valse mélancolique was truly haunting; the Scherzo was a brilliant coordination of jabbering woodwinds and strings; and the Theme and Variations, was an exercise in careful attention to every detail. Each variation was dazzlingly played, with moments of lingering poetry, all leading up to a fabulous Polonaise finale that was grand beyond all expectations.
The San Diego Union-Tribune
...The Russian National [Orchestra]... responded ably and energetically to [Pletnev’s] leadership. Shostakovich's Festive Overture was unabashedly rousing, with bold contributions from the brass and percussion that made the piece an exuberant tribute to the composer's 100th birthday year... The orchestra achieved a quintessentially Russian intensity in Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 3 (which Pletnev conducted from memory) and in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, which featured pianist Alexander Mogilevsky in a strongly assertive U.S. debut.
New York Times
The dynamic young conductor Vladimir Jurowski and the musicians of the Russian National Orchestra played Tchaikovsky's teeming 60-minute "Manfred" Symphony yesterday afternoon at Avery Fisher Hall as if they had something to prove. In a way, they do. Since its debut, in 1990, the orchestra has operated independently of state support. Artistic policies are set by a roster of conductors who share the podium. Going it alone in Russia may have been a risky move financially. But the musicians are invested in the outcome, which surely helps explain why this performance was so on-the-line.... Just playing [Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony] is difficult enough, but bringing cohesion to the episodic structure is ever harder. This performance did both... At times the playing was raw and shaky. But who cared, when the tradeoff was Tchaikovsky rendered with such dusky colorings, intensity and blazing power.
[In] the romantic Ferdinand-and-Miranda music from the "Tempest" overture, which began the [Monday night] concert, the R.N.O.'s strings did something extraordinary, athletically shaping the melody as if working against an inexorable force - something the Russians call Fate. American orchestras, bred in capitalist abundance, just don't do that. It was a hint of the excellence that would emerge on Wednesday. The Russian National Orchestra, established without support from the Russian state, has a lean-and-mean quality that distinguishes it from both the dark luxury of Valery Gergiev's Kirov Orchestra and from the jeweled precision of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. And they got their chance to shine in the Suite No. 3 in G Major - Tchaikovsky's most underrated composition, full of impassioned melodies, original forms, and enticingly complex rhythmic schemes. It was also the best forum in which to appraise Jurowski's work. [This] was a performance full of style, energy and lyrical impact, and it could not have happened without him.
The Washington Post
Silky-smooth strings; warm, winsome woodwinds; bright, brilliant brass; poised, piquant percussion -- the Russian National Orchestra evinced them all Friday night... "Sleeping Beauty" showcased chamber music precision and perfect instrumental balance. [Jurowski's] unusual conducting style was effective: Slight gestures elicited huge variations in dynamics and helped make difficult rhythmic changes sound effortless. Concertmaster Alexei Bruni played his lengthy solos with the utmost grace... The first movement [of Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 3 for Orchestra] brought emotionalism without wallowing, the second was filled with delicacy and warmth, and the third had rhythmic bite. The lengthy finale ... was filled with wondrous raucousness... The multiple standing ovations were richly deserved.
Palm Beach Post
Conductor Vladimir Jurowski displayed impressive abilities throughout Tuesday night's all-Tchaikovsky program. But the 32-year-old must share the glory with his outstanding 16-year-old ensemble. The Russian National Orchestra translated his often-cryptic gestures into sweeping torrents of emotionally charged sound.... He led with very economical gestures: a mere tap on the shoulder; one slender outstretched arm; a gracefully curled finger... Manfred defined him as an authoritative interpreter.... Jurowski's boldness, slow-burn passion and clarity in the details made him a convincing advocate for [this] rare work.... The orchestra ran as a well-oiled machine. All its sections played with impressive solidarity. But the 60 strings — more players than some entire orchestras — especially sounded manicured.