2002 RNO-Grove Street Winery Summer Concert Series


Napa Valley Register

Ponti and the Russian National Orchestra brought Tchaikovsky's Italian dances ... to life again with sprightly strings, dashing percussion and heraldic brass. ...the audience, on its feet again, clapped and cheered tirelessly…

The Orange County Register

The [concert] opened with the orchestra, conducted by Carlo Ponti Jr., delivering Tchaikovsky's rousing 'Capriccio Italien' and a bravura 'Rhapsody in Blue.' The latter was arranged by Timofei Dokshitzer for trumpet, and the horn of Vlad Lavrik was pure, sonorous and soaring. George Gershwin's beloved work sounds much different in this variation but not a bit less thrilling.

The Los Angeles Times

Brubeck and the orchestra have performed together on a number of occasions, and the familiarity was obvious, especially in the well-integrated fashion in which the Russians, conducted by Russell Gloyd, accompanied such traditional quartet numbers as 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' and the classic "Take Five.

The Los Angeles Times

Throughout, Vedernikov and the orchestra were model collaborators. By itself, the ensemble handsomely played excerpts from 'Luisa Miller,' 'Manon Lescaut,' 'The Masked Ball' and 'Onegin.' At the end, it bravely essayed a non-operatic piece, Liapunov's glib transcription of Balakirev's 'Islamey'.

San Francisco Classical Voice

Whoever says the symphony orchestra is a dying art form will have to make its case against the Russian National Orchestra. Last Wednesday, August 14, these cultural ambassadors from Moscow presented an electrifying evening at St. John's Catholic Church in Napa. Under the direction of Carlo Ponti, Jr., one of the orchestra's associate conductors, RNO took a program of standard warhorses, made them all sound fresh and new, and sent a lot of patrons home very, very happy.

The Seattle Times

Conductor Carlo Ponti Jr. displayed some understated star power on the podium... [The RNO] rose to excellence in Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition', where passages ... where rendered with razor-sharp accuracy, and the brass section turned brass into gold.

The Globe and Mail, Canada

[The RNO's] virtues were all evident during Monday's concert at the Chan Centre with associate conductor Carlo Ponti Jr. The RNO has a distinctive sound in every department, from the rich, stout-chested blare of the brass to the tawny glow of the woodwinds to the fat, glossy string sound that can clear the thorniest obstacles without shredding... The Chan Centre rang with cheers.

The Orange County Register

Brubeck's combo ... melded well with the wall-to-wall orchestra. A standout number was 'A Salute to the Count' [which] had the Russians swinging and Brubeck dashing off a few Basie-esque flourishes at the keyboard ... An extra added attraction, the Debussy-like "Regret" ... featured the orchestra's silky-smooth strings and a painfully pretty piano turn by the composer ... And jazz's most famous anthem, "Take Five," had the crowd whooping and hollering as the quartet and orchestra reached new levels of intensity.

The Los Angeles Times

The first of the [Hollywood] Bowl concerts, under the ensemble's associate conductor, Dmitri Liss ...won over the audience with a special gift of a performance. Presided over with the large, high gestures of Liss, the music was compelling. The orchestra...is a virtuosic band that balances strong ensemble values with accomplished solo playing... All the playing boasted transparency, an ingrained sense of style and a line of continuity that propelled the music forward... With an unforced authenticity, everything fell into place: the showiness and bravura of the character dances in 'Swan Lake,' the quirkiness, wit and flights of fancy in 'Fairy's Kiss,' the familiar and beloved landscape of 'Firebird.

What They’re Saying

"I saw the greatest orchestra in the world play Friday night. If you think that's hyperbole, ask anyone who was in Yardley Hall that night. The Russian National Orchestra is the Rolls-Royce of orchestras, no ordinary ensemble."

The Kansas City Star