2008 US Tour
Orange County Performing Arts Center
Lincoln Center - Avery Fisher Hall
Davies Symphony Hall
Gates Concert Hall, Newman Center
Lincoln Center - Avery Fisher Hall
Kravis Center / Dreyfoos Hall
West Palm Beach
Knight Concert Hall / Carnival Center
Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The classical portion of the second annual Festival of the Arts Boca got under way Saturday with the vibrant and technically dazzling Russian National Orchestra, conducted by Claus Peter Flor and featuring pianist Lang Lang. [The concert] was marked by stirring, forceful yet consistently melodic performances... The overture to Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila.... was remarkable for its precision and clarity, the strings with a deeply burnished sheen. Flor smoothly integrated winds and brasses into the developing patina.... The concert concluded with Beethoven's ambitious Symphony No. 7 in A Major, full of swirling rhythms. Flor led the Russian National Orchestra through a close-knit performance by turns aggressive, playful and freewheeling, flecked at its fringes with majesty.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Festival of the Arts Boca ended its celebrity-studded, 17-day series of cultural events Sunday with a concert that would be tough to beat for sheer sonic pleasure... The Russian National Orchestra sounded as brilliant as ever, assured and musically on the money, even in such thoroughly American works as Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodgers' Carousel Waltz and John Kander's Chicago Suite (which at points required the musicians to put down their instruments and whistle, which the Russians did gamely.)
[Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4] has rarely sounded more brilliant. The strings played with knife-edge intensity, and the first-movement climax, where the main theme returns in the upper registers of the violins, came with shattering power.
The internationalization of music training and orchestra personnel has supposedly led to an erosion of indigenous qualities to the world's orchestras. One wouldn't know it from the remarkable showing of the Russian National Orchestra on Thursday. Now in its 18th season, the RNO continues to hold its place as one of the finest of the teeming multitude of Russian orchestras -- if not the very finest of all. The brilliance and tonal gleam of the strings, refinement and character of the woodwinds and blazing power of the brass were staggering, even in an era of globally polished playing. Under [Claus Peter] Flor's baton, the Russian National Orchestra ensemble gave such richly idiomatic and naturally eloquent performances of Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, one was almost tempted to call them definitive. …the magnificent playing and rich pallette of colors felt so effortlessly right that they almost seemed a mere extension of Tchaikovsky's score...
New York Times
...from a New Yorker’s perspective, [Vladimir Jurowski's] relationship with this Russian orchestra seems particularly strong.... The orchestra... produced a brilliant, assertive sound, suffused with a particularly Russian sense of drama... [In] a hot-blooded, palpably emotional performance of the Tchaikovsky “Pathétique” Symphony, full of unusual and welcome touches... he drew extraordinary effects from the orchestra, including swirling string and woodwind figures in the Allegro molto vivace, along with superbly balanced brass playing and full-throttle percussion.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
... In the early 1990s... the newly created Russian National Orchestra established itself as one of the world's great symphonic ensembles.... Rarely will you hear such a powerful performance of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony. Under [Claus Peter] Flor's baton, the work spanned a vast range of emotions and colors, achieved with the gleaming power of the orchestra's world-class musicians. The first movement built slowly, as Flor drew more and more power from the orchestra, until the movement reached its shattering climax in strings and brass, where textures remained crystal clear despite the immense richness of sound. There were moments... when the orchestra really seemed like a brilliantly coordinated assemblage of virtuosi.
[The RNO] held the sold-out house captive with stirring interpretations that gave this music almost shocking presence.... The RNO breathed with wavelike sighs, the instrumental choirs blended with the minute care of a Dutch master mixing pigments.... An epidemic of goose bumps broke out in the perfectly unanimous, sweeping scales of [Pathétique's] first movement, while the musical climaxes were sinewy and slashing, not melodramatic.
The New York Sun
Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra made excellent, committed partners... They used head and heart in the right doses... a first-class performance...
...the Russian National Orchestra is a very special ensemble indeed... And what a performance Jurowski gave. The orchestra had all the right materials—a lovely even tone for the strings, the plaintive Russian character for winds, and of course the growling penetrating brass, resembling the bass choir of a Russian Orthodox service... it was a stunning performance... Jurowski can turn the most familiar music into pure gold.
The Seattle Times
The Russian National Orchestra served up an afternoon of passionate Russian soul to an adoring crowd Sunday; even the rare winter sunshine was not enough to make anyone regret their time spent indoors....
Rocky Mountain News
[Jurowski] drew out sumptuous playing and roof-rattling climaxes in the Pathétique. The mournful sobs of the violins emerged with clarity and force, while the thrilling marchlike third movement pinned listeners to the backs of their chairs. Cymbal crashes and bass-drum thumps have rarely sounded as vital.
Orange County Register
The Russian National Orchestra [is] one of the world's great orchestras…In this day when it is said that orchestras are losing their national characteristics, the RNO is recognizably Russian in sound. It is a more luxurious model than the Kirov Orchestra... The basses hold a special place in the sound, a thick, velvety, booming presence that serves as no mere foundation. The string section in general produces a luscious, juicy, big-bowed splendor, daintiness be damned. The sinister brass section is balanced by bright and candied woodwinds, often dominated by the flutes, and the timpanist doesn't hold back. It's an orchestra that, not surprisingly, plays Tchaikovsky well... Slow tempos contained the weakness of defeat, tempo changes and dynamic contrasts were explosive. The sometimes graceful Allegro con grazia became a last dance. The sometimes festive Allegro molto vivace... became threatening, a display of orchestral power, its inner workings, especially the basses, highlighted. The outpouring of the final Adagio was a resplendent cry to the skies, the strings bringing an unusually dense, throbbing richness, the rests held intensely.
Russia has a long and glorious musical heritage, but one of its greatest ensembles is among the newest: the Russian National Orchestra. This terrific orchestra, founded in 1990 and supported primarily through private funding, has won spectacular press and roaring ovations ever since it started touring.... Their lone Seattle concert... has been one of the most eagerly awaited jewels of the season....
Vladimir Jurowski... proved to be a musician of distinct taste with a first-class ear, who controls a symphony orchestra as if it were a single instrument... He was never afraid, in the Tchaikovsky Sixth, for instance, to take a long breath with nothing but silence... the effect was breathtaking... Jurowski is a master of understatement, but he knows when to fire all the guns...The Tchaikovsky was monumental in scale and range... Rachmaninoff's "The Isle of the Dead" opened the afternoon concert. Jurowski captured its moody, temperamental quality -- the long, sober phrases that never seemed to end.
...anticipation ran high for Wednesday evening's performance by the Russian National Orchestra... and it did not disappoint.... This major international orchestra was nothing short of stupendous.... Jurowski maximized the drama in every shift in mood, texture and tempo, squeezing the most out of even the most easily overlooked transition. There was not a moment of letdown in this performance. Simply put, it was an unforgettable evening.
Los Angeles Times
Everything sounded burnished, soulful, important... The way Jurowski opened the Brahms, he might have been a maestro of old... Jurowski's Brahms was boomy yet had a pinpoint sting. The 5/4 second movement of the Tchaikovsky was like a Russian bear waltzing — a big, beautiful, cuddly creature who could, at any moment, bite your head off... [Jurowski] has rabbit-quick reflexes. When he wants to whip up excitement, he can. The third movement of the "Pathétique" was on fire.