Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev, Lucas Debargue : Moscow State Philharmonic Society

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    Russian National Orchestra,
    Mikhail Pletnev, Lucas Debargue

    April 23, 2018

    Tchaikovsky Concert Hall

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    Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra
    P. I. Tchaikovsky
    Symphony No. 3


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    Russian National Orchestra

    Russian National Orchestra

    Russian National Orchestra has been in demand throughout the music world ever since its 1990 Moscow premiere. Of the orchestra's 1996 debut at the BBC Proms in London, the Evening Standard wrote, "They played with such captivating beauty that the audience gave an involuntary sigh of pleasure." More recently, they were described as "a living symbol of the best in Russian art" (Miami Herald) and "as close to perfect as one could hope for" (Trinity Mirror).

    The first Russian orchestra to perform at the Vatican and in Israel, the RNO maintains an active international tour schedule, appearing in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Guest artists performing with the RNO on tour include conductors Vladimir Jurowski, Nicola Luisotti, Antonio Pappano, Alan Gilbert, Carlo Ponti and Patrick Summers, and soloists Martha Argerich, Yefim Bronfman, Lang Lang, Pinchas Zukerman, Sir James Galway, Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, Steven Isserlis, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Simone Kermes and Renée Fleming, among many others. Popular with radio audiences worldwide, RNO concerts are regularly aired by National Public Radio in the United States and by the European Broadcasting Union.

    Gramophone magazine called the first RNO CD (1991) "an awe-inspiring experience; should human beings be able to play like this?" and listed it as the best recording of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique in history. Since then, the orchestra has made more than 60 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and PentaTone Classics, distinguishing the RNO as the only Russian ensemble with long-standing relationships with these prestigious labels, as well as additional discs with many other record companies. Conductors represented in the RNO discography include Founder and Music Director Mikhail Pletnev, Principal Guest Conductor Vladimir Jurowski, Kent Nagano, Alexander Vedernikov and Paavo Berglund.

    The RNO's recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Beintus's Wolf Tracks, conducted by Kent Nagano and narrated by Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, received a 2004 Grammy Award, making the RNO the first Russian orchestra to win the recording industry's highest honor. A Spanish language version narrated by Antonio Banderas was released in 2007, following a Russian version narrated by actors Oleg Tabakov and Sergei Bezrukov, with Mandarin and other editions to follow.

    The orchestra's Shostakovich cycle on PentaTone Classics is widely acclaimed as “the most exciting cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies to be put down on disc, and easily the best recorded.” (

    A regular visitor to the Schleswig-Holstein, Gstaad and Rheingau festivals, the RNO is also the founding orchestra of Napa Valley Festival del Sole, Festival of the Arts BOCA in Florida, and the Singapore Sun Festival, and resident orchestra for multiple seasons of the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy. The RNO will launch its own annual festival in 2009, which will be held at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.

    The RNO is unique among the principal Russian ensembles as a private institution funded with the support of individuals, corporations and foundations in Russia and throughout the world. In recognition of both its artistry and path-breaking structure, the Russian Federation recently awarded the RNO the first ever grant to a non-government orchestra.

    Mikhail Pletnev

    Mikhael Pletnev was born in Arkhangelsk, Russia, in 1957. His father was an accordion teacher, his mother a pianist. They recognized his talent early on. Mikhail grew up in Kazan where he learnt several instruments, including the piano. At the age of 13, he transferred to the Central School of Music in Moscow to study under Yevgeny Timakin. In 1974, Pletnev entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Yakov Fliyer, and, after Fliyer’s death, with Lev Vlasenko. At 21, Pletnev won the Gold Medal and First Prize in the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow which allowed him to tour outside the Soviet Union. His recording of his own arrangements from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite and Shchedrin’s Anna Karenina created a sensation.

    In 1980, Pletnev made his debut as a director. As guest conductor, he has directed the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 1988, he was invited by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to perform at the superpower summit in Washington. In 1990, with the help of the private sector, Pletnev founded the Russian National Orchestra (RNO), the first completely state-independent orchestra since the revolution of 1917. In 1991, as the first Russian orchestra, the RNO played a private concert in the Vatican for Pope Jean Paul II. In 1995, Pletnev was awarded the first State Prize of the Russian Federation by President Yeltsin. In 1999, Pletnev stepped down as music director and principal conductor of the RNO, becoming its Conductor Laureate. He continues his collaboration with the orchestra, recording with and conducting it at home and abroad. Vladimir Spivakov took over Pletnev’s position at the RNO.

    [added on June 17, 2004: Mikhail Pletnev returned to the position of Artistic director of the Russian National Orchestra in 2002, after Vladimir Spivakov’s short-lived unseccessful tenure].

    Pletnev is a pianist, director and composer. As soloist, he has appeared with Maazel, Giulini, Haitink, Chailly, Sanderling, Nagano, Gergiev, Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Pletnev’s recordings include his transcriptions for piano of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Sleeping Beauty (Philips, 1998; DG 1999). For his album of Scarlatti’s Keyboard Sonatas (Virgin Classics, EMI), he received a Gramophone Award in 1996. Pletnev’s Homage to Rachmaninov was recorded on the composer’s own Steinway at Rachmaninov’s family home near Lucerne. As a composer, Pletnev’s works include Classical Symphony, Triptych for Symphony Orchestra, Fantasy on Kazakh Themes for Violin and Orchestra and Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. At the end of 1998, his Concerto for Viola and Orchestra premiered in Moscow with Yuri Bashmet as soloist. The world premiere recording of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto arranged by Pletnev for clarinet, with Michael Collins as soloist, was released in 2000 (DG).

    Lucas Debargue

    French pianist Lucas Debargue was discovered through his performances at the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition held in Moscow in year 2015. Although placing only fourth in the final round, he was the only musician across all disciplines who was awarded with the coveted Moscow Music Critic’s Prize as a pianist who’s “incredible gift, artistic vision, and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience”.

    Straight after this incredible breakthrough Lucas Debargue was invited to play solo and with leading orchestras in the most prestigious concert halls of the world: the Grand Hall of Tchaikovsky Conservatory and the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow; Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall and St Petersburg Philharmonic Hall; Theatre des Champs Elysées, Salle Gaveau and Paris Philharmonic; Conservatory of Milan; Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London; Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw; Prinzregententheater in Munich and the Berlin Philharmonic Hall; Konserthuset in Stockholm; Carnegie Hall in New York and further prestigious concert halls in Tokyo, Osaka, Chicago, Montréal, Toronto, Seattle, Mexico, Beijing, Taipei, Shanghai, Seoul …

    He also collaborates with such famous conductors as Valery Gergiev, Andrey Boreyko, Mikhail Pletnev, Vladimir Spivakov, Yutaka Sado, Tugan Sokhiev and he also appears regularly in chamber music ensembles with Gidon Kremer, Janine Jansen and Martin Fröst.

    Lucas Debargue was born in 1990. His path to becoming a pianist was all but conventional: he began studying piano when he was 11 but soon switched to literature and graduated from Paris Diderot University with a Bachelor’s Art Degree. Although focusing on literature, he also took time to work his way through a large part of the core piano repertoire during his younger years.<p>

    He began his professional piano training only after he had turned 20 years old. This came about after a meeting with the celebrated piano teacher Rena Shereshevskaya, who offered him the opportunity to join her class at the École Normale de Musique de Paris “Alfred Cortot” in 2011. This decision committed him to a musical path. In 2014 he won the 1st prize at the 9th Gaillard International Piano Competition (France) before becoming one of the prize winners at the 15th Tchaikovsky Competition. In April 2016 he obtained a “Diplôme Supérieur de Concertiste” and a Special Cortot Prize from the Cortot School. He currently continues to work with Rena Shereshevskaya at the postgraduate level of the same school.

    A performer of fierce integrity and dazzling communicative power, Lucas Debargue draws inspiration from literature, painting, cinema and jazz and develops very personal interpretation of a carefully selected repertoire. Though the core piano repertoire is central in his career, Lucas Debargue is also known to present works by lesser-known composers such as Nikolai Medtner, Nikolai Roslavets or Milosz Magin. He also composes and performs his own music: a concertino for piano, percussions and string orchestra with Kremerata Baltica was premiered June 2017 in Cēsis, Latvia and a piano trio was performed in September 2017 at the Paris Fondation Louis Vuitton.

    Lucas Debargue’s record label is Sony Classical and he has already released three solo albums – “Scarlatti, Chopin, Liszt, Ravel” (2016); “Bach, Beethoven, Medtner” (2016) and “Schubert & Szymanowski” (2017). In 2017 he was awarded the prestigious German music prize “ECHO Klassik”.

    He has also been the subject of a documentary “Lucas Debargue: To Music”, directed by Martin Mirabel and produced by Bel Air Media. The movie follows the pianist in the aftermath of his success at the Tchaikovsky Competition and was released in the autumn 2017.

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