M A G A Z I N E S / N E W S P A P E R S

The Moscow Chamber Orchestra is a wonderful ensemble and gives a disciplined and polished but by no means unspontaneous account of Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony...Schnittke's 1979 Concerto for piano and strings in which Constantine Orbelian both plays the solo part and conducts...has telling power. This reading hits one between the eyes...a superb recording, deep and warm and staggeringly true in spatial definition.

FANFARE (Spring 01)
The Moscow Chamber Orchestra is as much the embodiment of a tradition as it is a first-rate orchestral machine with all its parts in synergistic harmony...the orchestra is in fine fettle, it still sounds profoundly Russian, and it is now headed by a dynamic conductor who is taking it into new reper toire realms...The collection of Shostakovich Waltzes...is bracing, lyrically inspired and infectious. This seemingly easy’ music requires virtuoso technique and a great deal of interpretive brinksmanship to make it really work, and it receives a surfeit of both in these performances, which capture its sparkle, wit, and often gracious irony...The Moscow Chamber Orchestra's reading of Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony...is sensitive to the delicate emotional subtleties passed over in other performances. It is one of the most affecting readings of this masterpiece that I have yet heard. The accompanying Schnittke Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979) features Orbelian as soloist, and the results place it in the must collect’ category for any fan (myself included) of this quirky and enigmatic Russian composer...I found this disc especially compelling. The Moscow Chamber Orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's oft recorded Serenade for Strings teases out the work's inner voices to telling effect. The playing conveys the feeling that the musicians are discovering this chestnut for the first time, and are reveling in their discovery. Tempos are gauged nearly perfectly, and the laser-accurate intonation reveals the piece's harmonic subtlety most gratifyingly...The Seasons...receive a beautifully intoned performance of often haunting delicacy.

BRAVO! (Headline) Some of life's great moments derive their greatness from not only their intrinsic beauty, but also from our realization even as they happen that they are, indeed, singular moments. About 800 Ketchikan residents had such an experience on Friday...The audience from the teenager in a tuxedo to the middle-aged man in work clothes recognized the collective genius of these musicians...Orbelian beamed from the moment he took command of the auditorium. He and the musicians saw equally beaming Alaskan faces before them. Standing ovations were spontaneous and thunderous...Ketchikan's children occasionally known for running about willy-nilly in some of the town's more family-oriented venues were as attentive as any season-ticket-holding New Yorkers.

The Moscow Chamber Orchestra presented a program of such beautifully executed music Saturday evening at Atwood Concert hall that the half-capacity crowd could barely catch its breath...All 20 instrumentalists were in such complete communication that they sounded as one...[Concertmaster] Dmitry Khakhamov left the audience spellbound with electrifying pace and agility in Bizet's Fantasy on Themes from the Opera Carmen.

The MCO showed itself a highly accomplished group, boasting superbly integrated ensemble work and sensitive musicianship, consistently responsive to Orbelian's keen-eared direction.

The musicians spoke as one not as individuals or sections...the players picked up on one another's subtle cues and nonverbal communications, over and above their response to the conductor. That's coherence and musicianship; that's ideal.

ERIE TIMES-NEWS (CD review) (1/1/01)
[The Russian folk song arrangements are] played with a singing line that almost breathes, and are heartbreakingly beautiful. So, too, are Orbelian's readings of [Tchaikovsky's Seasons and Serenade for Strings], performed with exceptional elegance and patrician refinement.

The Moscow Chamber Orchestra gained an international reputation 40-odd years ago under the direction of Rudolf Barshai...but a program at the University of Texas at Dallas on Friday night proved that his group is still a wonderful orchestra. A lively program of attractive pieces lifted the spirits and for once left a Dallas-area audience reluctant to leave at the conclusion. [Grieg's Holberg Suite's] lovely melodies soared in the Muscovites' performance. The Moscow Chamber Orchestra produces an unusually rich and strong sound, with its 17 string players interacting as true chamber musicians rather than just as a small orchestra...Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A was given a spirited performance...The three [Piazzolla] tangos that concluded Friday night's program were surprisingly varied in mood.... The Moscow orchestra made the Piazzolla hype seem justified.

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES (CD review) (10/15/00)
[Rachmaninoff's opera Aleko was] convincingly performed by conductor Orbelian and his gifted colleagues.

THE BALTIMORE SUN (CD review) (9/21/00)
Conductor Constantine Orbelian approaches the opera [Rachmaninoff's Aleko] with obvious affection, inspiring a committed, vivid performance.

THE AUDIO CRITIC (review of Shostakovich/Schnittke CD) (Fall 2000)
[Orbelian] undoubtedly has star quality, and his orchestra plays with great passion and precision. The slashing string attacks are captured...with stunning fidelity.

Orbelian led...with an authentic musical style...as idiomatic and sympathetic as this great singer [Ewa Podles] deserved.

STANDING OVATION FOR MOSCOW CHAMBER (Headline) The Moscow Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1956 and made its Edmonton debut at Winspear only last night. It was worth the wait...[the MCO] shone throughout the evening with a tone of transparency and warmth...From the first phrases [of Grieg's Holberg Suite], the players revealed superb tuning, incisive rhythms and immaculate tone...[Prokofiev's Visions Fugitives], five tiny, aphoristic pieces that shimmer and tremble...were exquisitely played. The evening's highlight, however, was Tchaikovsky's ravishing and inventive Serenade for Strings. It was great to hear such a refined, noble performance...everything sang and sparkled. A standing ovation was rewarded with several encores.

ENSEMBLE CREATES FULL RANGE OF FEELINGS / Russian Group Shows Intense Control Of Program (Headline) What the Moscow Chamber Orchestra did not bring with them into Winspear Centre Friday night was probably just as important as the cohesion, balance and musicianship that they did bring. The night's two grand Romantic works, Grieg's Holberg Suite and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, did not lack for one moment a full range of emotion. But conductor Constantine Orbelian presented interpretations of these famous works that were remarkably free of overt sentimentality. The results were refreshing and vivid...Grieg's suite was a delight the final movement especially, with great Vivaldian solo work from [concertmaster] Dmitry Khakhamov...[Schnittke's Piano Concerto was] brilliantly and tautly controlled...Orbelian was very communicative with his players, and the orchestra's sense of ensemble was truly remarkable. This was something special.

...played propulsively, with cogent details, great flexibility, and, at the right times, a manic quality that hinted at the anguish under the graceful surface.

MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHESTRA COMMANDS THREE ENCORES (Headline) The Moscow Chamber Orchestra belied its name and perhaps surprised its audience by offering a very cosmopolitan program...Five Amenian Folk Songs was a delightful sounding assortment of folk songs, full of piquant rhythms and catchy tunes...the musicians were sympathetic interpreters.... they grew in energy until the last section a whirling dance in which they positively gave off musical sparks...[In Mozart's Piano Concerto K.271 with soloist Justin Blasdale] their polished, airy yet close-knit sound was impressive. Orbelian captured the flavor of the era...Then came a finely drawn and elegantly conceived performance of the Holberg Suite by Edvard Grieg...The real treasure of the evening was a delightful enactment of the charming legend that accompanies the Haydn's Farewell Symphony. With the stage lit only by candles on the music stands, Orbelian led a sparkling performance leading up to the point where each performer blows out his candle and exits, leaving two lonely violins to bring the symphony to a close in almost total darkness. In response to the applause of an enthusiastic audience, three encores were performed.

TOUCHING, GRACEFUL CONCERT FROM MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHESTRA (Headline) Happily, [the MCO] seems to be in very capable hands these day...Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings...despite relentless overexposure these days, can still touch the listener given a deeply felt performance like this. Seamlessly and fleetly handled, with arches forming within the sweeping overall arches of each movement, no schmaltz, and some revelatory touches...it sounded disarmingly natural...Alexander Aroutiunian's Violin Concerto, a West Coast premiere... [was] sustained with remarkable concentration by concertmaster Dmitry Khakhamov...Prior to Tchaikovsky there was room for some bits of mischievous Shostakovich in the form of five Preludes...the unusual encores were most ingratiating...a tangy Armenian folk song, a yearning Astor Piazzolla tango and Vieuxtemps’ circusy fantasy on Yankee Doodle.

MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OFFERS AN EMOTIONAL PACKAGE (Headline) On a chilly, snowy, Moscow kind of night, a surprisingly large Corkin Theatre crowd was warmed by an intriguing, sometimes challenging concert by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra...[The MCO] and their conductor, Constantine Orbelian, seemed right at home. In an unhackneyed offering of music by two countrymen, the group showed no interest in dumbing down for the sake of Western tastes...It was hard to outdo the first half for sheer boldness of programming: Orbelian opened matters at the piano, brilliantly playing.... Schnittke's Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra...Next, it was time for some Piazzolla tangos, with the Muscovites joined by saxophone virtuoso Federico Mondelci [who had a] sumptuous tone, faultless technique and commanding presence...[Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony was] played with deep-felt emotion...Almost as a dessert, Orbelian ended the evening with five bouncy, easy-to-take Armenian Folk Songs, played with rhythmic punch.

MOSCOW PLAYERS WARM CONCERT HALL (Headline) The sound, born of supple bowing and the generosity and grace of the gestures of conductor Constantine Orbelian, was so lovely...Orbelian used his eloquent bare hands to draw exquisite nuance from his skilled and attentive little orchestra. He and his players reveled, especially, in their gorgeous pianissimo...sonic beauty achieved to a surpassing degree.

MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHESTRA WARMS HEARTS, EARS OF CROWD (Headline) [The MCO] warmed Stephens Auditorium in Ames Wednesday with humble virtuosity. A large crowd filled the hall and left better prepared for the cold than when they arrived. The Moscow Chamber Orchestra is considered the finest chamber orchestra in Russia...The translucence of the sound was extraordinary...Orchestra and soloist [Orbelian] were completely connected to the sheer beauty and subtlety of the work [Mozart's Piano Concerto in A major].

The Moscow Chamber Orchestra...showed why it is considered a world-class ensemble...a nimble and warm sound...the performance [of Haydn's Farewell Symphony] was handled beautifully as the music dissolved into darkness.

NEWS-JOURNAL (Daytona Beach) (1/13/00)
The Moscow Chamber Orchestra's Monday concert was noteworthy in many ways, not the least in that it attracted a near-capacity audience...Not only was the performance substantive and satisfying, its program was lively and challenging and its range remarkably broad and intellectually engaging.... exquisite musicianship...Deftly performed, [Haydn's Farewell Symphony] was a vivid testament to the MCO's masterful approach, and to its wilingness to play and have a little fun while retaining the lofty musical standards the orchestra has created since it was founded in in 1956...[They left behind] an audience awed by its beauty and subtle, graceful seriousness.

When [a chamber orchestra] performance is properly conceived and executed it can present an intimacy and brilliance that is rare for any ensemble. The Moscow Chamber Orchestra proved this Monday evening during its performance at the Kravis Center of works by Elgar, Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich....

MARVELOUS MUSICAL MIX FROM MOSCOW (Headline) The Moscow Chamber Orchestra came to Carnegie Hall on Thursday with [a program] apparently calculated to provide something for every taste, an aim in which it no doubt succeeded...[Schnittke's Piano Concerto, with Constantine Orbelian as soloist] was the real ear-catcher...lucid, crystal-clear...The orchestra itself had its best chance to shine in Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, and shine it did, delivering this elegant work with articulate grace and perfect pacing.

MOSCOW ORCHESTRA IS GENEROUS WITH TALENT AND ENCORES (Headline) ...the performances were flat-out superb. [The MCO's performance of] Tchaikovksy's resplendent Serenade for Strings accentuated the warm legato as pects of the opening section...an extremely beautiful and sensitively shaded account of the haunting Elegy and a lively, vital performance of the final Theme and Variations...[Orbelian] revealed a wonderful feeling for Schnittke's style...other-worldly mystery, eloquence and emotional punch...extremely well played.



Carolyn Bridger, The Artists Series, Tallahassee, FL
The MCO was absolutely fabulous!! We had the best audience of any Artist Series concert ever, and it was a terrific way to open the season! Even the high school students were enthralled, especially because they were able to get Massimo's autograph. We had a lovely reception afterward that the Artist Series Guild worked hard to "produce." I feel confident that the musicians all enjoyed it as well...And I really enjoyed meeting Constantine--what a jovial person and a wonderful conductor! It was definitely a huge success!

Carl Helmick, Indian Wells Valley Concert Association
The performance here by MCO on Oct.2 was SUPERB! Over the years we have had a number of outstanding concerts by various chamber orchestras, but I think this one was the outstanding among the outstanding. All the comments I have heard have been highly favorable. The performers adapted well to the makeshift venue, necessitated by the unavailability of our home auditorium on the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, after 54 years. The five scheduled works...were all delightful compositions, exquisitely played. It was impossible to pick a favorite. Each was the favorite as it came along...The versatility of the orchestra was evident not only in the main program, but in the three encores played, each highlighting a different musician in the orchestra as soloist...Our audience was attentive and appreciative throughout, responding with a prompt standing ovation (not common for our audience)...All in all, a stunning concert!

Herta Prechtel, Fairbanks Concert Association
The MCO was a jewel in our season! It was such an honor and a joy to have this this distinguished orchestra in town. All went beautifully. The residencies were well attended and very successful, the evening concert was stellar, truly outstanding, and several standing ovations of a most enthusiastic audience expressed interior Alaskans' appreciation. As you know, Lisa, there were some tensions on our board regarding the addition of "another event". However, the glorious MCO turned all this around. Our board was grateful and extremely pleased. Thank you, Lisa. An especially warm thank-you also to Constantine. His gracious commitment to enrich this community has made all the difference. He is an extraordinary man and it was quite a privilege to work with him.

Peggy Skiles, Yuba-Sutter Arts Council, CA
The concert was fabulous and Maestro Orbelian is wonderful both as a pianist and as a person to deal with. We had a great turn out; the hall was comfortably full and everyone loved it. Three encores!

Kathryn Evans, University of Texas at Dallas
Everything went great! Huge success, sold-out crowd, fabulous concert!

Cindy Calabrese, Brevard College
WOW!! I and a nearly sold out house were so amazed and thrilled with last night's performance by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. Not only did they play amazingly well, but they were so great to work with. We do need to talk about other future groups, but I would love to know the availability of MCO for 2001/02.

Ewa Bornstein, Millikin University
The orchestra was wonderful and very much appreciated by the audience. Maestro Orbelian was very charming and personable. Great experience and many thanks.

R. Wilkins (Anchorage Concert Association)
The MCO concert in Anchorage was a great success. It came off without a hitch... The orchestra and its musicians are phenomenal - they deserve every word of praise ever lavished on them. There were three (or was it four?) standing ovations. Orbelian obliged with three encores. Everybody loved it, especially our small resident population of Russian emigres. I'm happy that you were able to work out a real Alaska tour for them. You must have worked really hard to achieve that.

Sybil Davis (Juneau Arts and Humanities Council)
The MCO was utterly fab! The audience loved them, Constantine is probably one of the most relaxed and fun men I've met. He was very indulgent of us -- our normal auditorium manager was gone, and although things went well, they could have been smoother..but we all managed, and I really appreciate his good naturedness. We had a lovely reception for them afterward at their hotel, and the dinner before the concert was also well appointed. I would love to get them back to do an orchestral institute...I don't know how realistic it all is, but it's a little dream that Ketchikan, and Juneau are entertaining. more as it develops. They were the absolute highlight of our season Lisa, Thanks for alerting me to them.

Carol Thompson, Georgia Southern College
MCO is absolutely fantastic!! The program was terrific. The audience had nothing but the highest praise for the concert. They were professional and easy to work with. Thank you so much for bringing them to my attention and working with me on the price, so that I could afford to present them. If MCO does a southeast tour again, please let me know.


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