25th Anniversary US Tour
Valley Performing Arts Center
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Davies Symphony Hall
Davies Symphony Hall
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Lied Center for Performing Arts
Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts
Center for the Performing Arts
Kravis Center, Dreyfoos Hall
West Palm Beach
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Phillips Center, Univ. of Florida
San Francisco Examiner
Wang was with this music [Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto] in the proper spirit for every leg of her metaphorical flight; and Pletnev's disciplined control of the orchestra [served] to maintain momentum... the experience was an impressive one.... The intermission was followed by the appearance of soprano Lisa Delan singing the world premiere of Gordon Getty's "Gretchen to Faust." Delan's delivery reflected Getty's talent for expressing prose... [The] dramatic impact made for a fascinating reflection on the traditional Faust legend....Pletnev gave an account [of Stravinsky's "Firebird"] that superbly accounted for the composer's rich use of extended instrumental resources. This was the selection that best served the full RNO ensemble; and, with Pletnev as their conductor, they certainly knew how to give a compelling account of their well-polished sonorities.
Even longtime aficionados of Wang's work might have found something new to marvel at during these concerts.... Tchaikovsky's Second Concerto on Sunday night got a magisterial account in a traditional virtuoso vein, all thunderous chords and intricate passagework. That was followed the next night by Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, the "Jeunehomme," which showed off Wang's mastery of crystalline textures and effortless elegance... The performances of the big orchestral showpieces -- Stravinsky's 1945 "Firebird" Suite on Sunday, "Swan Lake" on Monday -- were marked by instrumental splendor (especially from the sleek and richly colored woodwind sections)... Also on the [Sunday] program was the world premiere of Gordon Getty's "Gretchen to Faust"... Soprano Lisa Delan infused the solo part with the requisite tenderness...
San Francisco Examiner
Pletnev provided ideal instrumental support [to Yuja Wang]... With minimal body language he could convey the spritely qualities of the outer movements contrasting with the more introspective Andantino. Most important was the vibrancy of the spirit of conversation between soloist and ensemble... The [Swan Lake] suite, taken as a whole, definitely made for an excellent display of the many rich sonorous qualities of the ensemble... [as well asl] the ravishing solo work by concertmaster Alexey Bruni and Principal Cello Alexander Gotgelf.
San Francisco Classical Voice
[Yuja Wang's] technique was flawless in a piece that was as overt and dazzling in the outer movements as you could imagine from this artist....[Mikhail Pletnev] seems telepathically connected to his players... Simply staring or flicking a finger at the right time here and there seems to work wonders with the crew. The RNO is so well-rehearsed, the rest becomes history...[Gretchen to Faust] shows Getty's increasing mastery of and sensitivity to text. Lisa Delan was the fine soloist in an arioso with a wavering orchestral accompaniment that sounded simultaneously gentle and jagged. I found it to be one of Getty's best works.
The virtue of the arrangement [of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet] by founding artistic director Mikhail Pletnev was that it touched on parts of the score that often get left out of the suites, and, by exposing the ensemble in a wide spectrum of textures, made it perfectly clear why hearing orchestras other than your own is so rewarding. In [Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor] Stefan Jackiw was soloist, coming across... refined and technically accomplished.... This was the perfect hall for appreciating his great virtue of being able to play in an extreme whisper with absolutely no decay in sound quality.
[With Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, Pletnev] drew color from his orchestra, together with the discipline that Russians seem to learn at their mother's knee. Especially amazing was how he aroused creativity with his meticulous conducting. How his charisma gave inspiration to the musicians, who spontaneously juxtaposed the endlessly meditative element of this work with its dramatic release... this Firebird gave us a true convergence of worlds, of poles whose intensely contrastive undertones were resolved through beauty as the binding element. Still, there was plenty of room to breathe – because Pletnev doesn't suffocate; he provides oxygen.
Los Angeles Times
The sold-out concert kicked off the orchestra's 16-city 25th anniversary tour... The orchestra played brilliantly from the concert's rousing opener, Shostakovich's "Festive Overture." Intense focus also marked soloist Yuja Wang's blazing account of the concert's centerpiece, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2, proving you don't have to be Russian to play like one. She displayed a Horowitz-like bravura... Pletnev and the orchestra maintained an exciting sense of forward sweep in the concerto's outer movements, handling some of Tchaikovsky's characteristic bombast with the right degree of panache... After intermission, Pletnev summoned colorful intensity from the ensemble in a carefully shaped reading of Stravinsky's "The Firebird," contoured to highlight the ensemble's many virtuosos.
Orange Country Register
The Russian National Orchestra... is a luxury model, a Rolls Royce of orchestras...[Yuja Wang's] performance was impressive...she managed both blinding speed and explosive power with the utmost clarity of articulation and texture..."Firebird" was well reasoned and patient, nothing forced, everything in its time... The strings of this orchestra are its glory and they somehow combine burnished luxury of sound with a clarity and precision that allows you to hear individual players within the unit. There were glowing woodwind solos and shining brass... it was beautiful.
Lincoln Journal Star
The gem of the new Russia, the Russian National Orchestra, played Lincoln Saturday night to the ecstasy of an absolutely full house at the Lied Center... Mikhail Pletnev set a stately tempo for the "Festival Overture".... Winds produced clear, floating runs as the strings took off on pizzicato notes that sounded spectacular.... Wang was nothing short of amazing [in Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto]. Her command of the keyboard is outstanding, and her communication with Pletnev and the orchestra was absolute.... Camaraderie of the solo players, pianist and orchestra came into full, glorious view. [After intermission] the ensemble exhibited perfection in dynamics, intensity and moods to create a spellbinding "Firebird" worthy of high praise.
The New York Times
Pletnev, an esteemed pianist and the founder and artistic director of the Russian National, is... a picture of composure and clarity on the podium. And his marvelous orchestra responds with like clarity and precision. The band was in fine shape on Wednesday, midway through the American leg of its 25th-anniversary international tour. The program, opening with Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia" and ending with Stravinsky's "Firebird" Suite, was particularly well suited to show off a superb woodwind section, especially the oboist Olga Tomilova and the flutist Maxim Rubtsov.... Stefan Jackiw...made [Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2] his own: not only the beautiful melodies but also the skittish passages in which the tunes seem to be morphing and turning themselves inside out. He rendered them all with seeming ease and remarkable purity of tone.
South Florida Classical Music Review
"Russian music played by Russia's finest ensemble was the major draw for the full house that greeted the Russian National Orchestra Monday night at the Kravis Center... Jackiw's impeccable technique and silvery tone strongly conveyed Prokofiev's bittersweet lyricism [in the Violin Concerto No. 2]... The Russian National Orchestra remains among the top international ensembles. Winds and brass play with clear, rounded tone unlike the nasal, heavy vibrato found in many Russian orchestras. Absolute precision and full, dark hued corporate sonority mark this group's unique string sound.... [Ukrainian-born Kirill] Karabits is leading the Florida leg of the ensemble's American tour, something of [a] musical détente... he led exciting readings of Russian repertoire standards that were anything but conventional... From the evocative horn and clarinet statement of the dominant melody [of Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia]... the orchestra's large tonal compass shone impressively.... There was balletic lightness in the Firebird's Dance and the pantomime was full of Russian languor... The terrific performance brought the usually sedate Kravis audience to its feet with cheers and bravos..."
Palm Beach Daily News
Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia... was played with lush sound by the orchestra.... Jackiw and Karabits were formidable partners, delivering a memorable reading [of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2]. The soloist displayed not only a potent sound... but an ability to phrase even unconventional phrases with utmost taste.... The orchestra gave a spectacular rendition [of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite]. The many soloists featured were one of the ensemble's strengths, as well as its ability to rock Dreyfoos Hall walls with explosive fortissimos in the Infernal Dance. For the first time this season, the usual standing-walking ovation gave way to a true standing ovation, with many shouts of bravo and requests for an encore...