Critical Acclaim For US Tours

06.01.11
Russian National Orchestra

2010 TOUR
“The second half of the program was a single work, the Symphony No. 9 by Shostakovich, written at the conclusion of World War II. The full orchestra sounded like it had spent a lifetime with our acoustics.

From the witty skipping feel of the first movement to the meandering puzzle of the fifth, the orchestra showed discipline and verve throughout this fascinating, twisting piece. The calls for an encore were quite deserved.” Seattle Times (February 2010)

“They’re still great.” Los Angeles Times (February 2010)

“Stefan Jackiw, a 24-year-old violinist from Boston, was soloist in Tchaikovsky’s concerto. He has been hyped as the next sensation…. He has a striking, percussive technique. He could be a rock star. And he tears into Tchaikovsky like a rock star might if a rock star could.” Los Angeles Times (February 2010)

“Summers had good control of this group. Unison playing was really remarkable, especially by the strings, and Summers' precise wind and brass voice leading helped clarify the sound even more…. [The orchestra’s] playing was beautifully precise. It made the music's scoring and architecture easy to enjoy.” Kansas City Star (February 2010)

“The Russian National Orchestra's appearance two years ago in the Newman Center Presents series ranks among Denver's classical highlights of that season and, indeed, the entire decade.

Memories of that concert, along with the ensemble's ranking in December 2008 by Gramophone Magazine as the world's 15th greatest orchestra, led to ample anticipation of its return engagement Wednesday in Gates Concert Hall.

American guest conductor Patrick Summers, music director of the Houston Grand Opera, took the podium Wednesday…. Summers conveyed the overall power and sweep of the evening's culminating work, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. He invested the long opening movement with the requisite moodiness and tension…” Denver Post (February 2010)

“Favoring brisk tempos, Summers drew exciting playing from the orchestra, the intonation and perfect execution of the exposed horn parts a standout. Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture was an apt curtain-raiser to the Emperor, Summers leading a muscular but blatant and unsubtle performance.

The Russian orchestra’s strings have the deep sonority and heft of a great pipe organ while the winds are solid and distinctive, unmarred by the heavy vibrato that plagued Russian orchestras in the past. With brass that can be alternately brilliant or mellow, this is an orchestra that can turn on a dime.” South Florida Classical Review (March 2010)

“The Russian National Orchestra, an independent ensemble, not state-owned, brought enormous skill and excitement to the Van Wezel on Friday evening, demonstrating again the power of musical energy in the hands of highly motivated musicians.

Under the athletic leadership of their American guest conductor, Patrick Summers, music director of the Houston Grand Opera, and belying their moderate size by today's standards, the orchestra produced sound of impressive power and solidity, transparent and beautifully balanced from top to bottom.” Sarasota Herald Tribune (March 2010)
 
2008 TOUR
"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.)" South Florida Sun-Sentinel (March 2008)
 
"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 (March 2008)
 
"[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." Sun-Sentinel (March 2008)
 
Russian National Orchestra gives stellar performance
"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... " Miami Herald (March 2008)

Russian National Orchestra played with power and brilliance
"... 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." South Florida Sun-Sentinel (March 2008)
 
In Precise Movements, a Russian Sense of Drama
"...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." New York Times (February 2008)
 
"...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." ConcertoNet (February 2008)
 
Equal Parts Head & Heart
"Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra made excellent, committed partners... They used head and heart in the right doses... a first-class performance..." The New York Sun (February 2008)
 
Russian orchestra stunning
"...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." Denver Post (February 2008)
 
"[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." Crosscut (February 2008)
 
"[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." Rocky Mountain News (February 2008)

Russian National Orchestra wows adoring crowd
"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..." The Seattle Times (February 2008)
 
"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." Seattle Post-Intelligencer (February 2008)
 
"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..." Seattle Times (February 2008)
 
"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." Orange County Register (February 2008)
 
"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." Los Angeles Times (February 2008)
 
2007 TOUR
"This hardy, independent orchestra, led by the protean Mikhail Pletnev, plays with that zealous sense of commitment that has always characterized the best Russian ensembles." The New Yorker (March 2007)

The Sounds of an Orchestra’s Singular Personality
"This is an orchestra that does not strive for lushness, as many American ensembles do, or for a particular woodwind or string timbre, which is an identifying trait of certain central European orchestras. Instead its sound is remarkably trim and focused, with sharp-edged, virtuosic brass playing as one of its hallmarks but also a polished string sound and agile woodwind work... The orchestral playing was unimpeachable in the Tchaikovsky and better than that — virtuosic, dark-hued and almost opulent — in Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, which closed the concert." New York Times (March 2007)

Perlman, Jurowski light up Boca night
"Perlman and Jurowski stormed the heavens in a bold Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor. Perlman tore into the famous Bruch with fervor and crystalline playing. So tightly were Perlman and Jurowski linked that they seemed to have rehearsed specific ideas with care.... Jurowski magnifies every element of a work. He enlarges not only its breadth, but also its impact on listeners. His specialty seems to be re-outfitting large works [with] a new scope, direction, depth of meaning - even upgraded value - from note one…With the extraordinary Russian National Orchestra, and especially its woodwind and brass soloists, Jurowski's concepts are realized with passion and precision. The Russian National Orchestra had already proved itself in past South Florida concerts. But after the four programs in Boca over the last nine days, it is especially hard to see this group leave." The Palm Beach Post (March 2007)
 
A triple musical treat at Boca Raton amphitheater
"The Russian National Orchestra produces a distinctive sound. Strings have the sonority and depth of a great organ and winds glow with color and transparency. The orchestra's principal guest conductor, Vladimir Jurowski... heated up the chilly evening with a performance of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture that breathed fire... [In Variations on a Rococo Theme, cellist Nina Kotova’s] incredible richness of tone in the instrument's lower register recalled such distinguished predecessors as Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Shafran and Natalia Gutman... her final bravura display combined exceptional dexterity with showbiz flair. Jurowski proved a wonderfully attentive accompanist, spotlighting the score's balletic sweep. Rarely has Tchaikovsky's prominent wind writing... been so beautifully articulated.... [In] her performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor... the immensely talented Helene Grimaud gave this pianistic symphony a performance of heaven-storming proportions." South Florida Sun Sentinel (March 2007)
 
"Jurowski reframed the great Romeo and Juliet Fantasy by Tchaikovsky. Like a museum-quality restorer, young Jurowski removed half a century of old tarnish — decades of performance styles that reduced its vision to mere romance — to expose vivid, new colors and dramatic depths rarely ascribed to the Romeo canvas. Guest cellist Nina Kotova resurveyed the boundaries of the Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme. In her redrawn topographical map... great mountains tower in grand authority; rushing rapids tumble into waterfalls... Each expansive scene shimmered with a pristine beauty." Palm Beach Post (March 2007)
 
"Rarely will an audience hear as brilliant and sumptuous a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 as the one played Sunday at the Festival of the Arts Boca. Renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman easily conquered the brutally demanding solo part... In Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra... the Russian players displayed a fantastic array of colors, from the sinister muted brass to the lustrous violins, playing with laser-like accuracy in the difficult runs and lush melodies. Jurowski gave a weighty, dramatic interpretation that allowed all the details of the score to come through without any fussiness or loss of musical line." South Florida Sun Sentinel (March 2007)