REVIEWS (EXCERPTS) Orlando Sentinel April 6, 2009 Scott Warfield …The visiting ensemble was the National Philharmonic of Russia, a relatively new group, founded in 2003 in Moscow as a symbol of post-Communist Russia. Despite its short history, this orchestra played with all the discipline and style of a veteran ensemble… …Whatever its meaning, the National Philharmonic of Russia gave the symphony a first-rate reading, with a sense of ensemble that caught every shifting gear without a miss, and a clarity of texture that allowed even the slightest interjections to be heard easily. With Shostakovich's emphasis on primary colors, there were plenty of solo lines, and all were played in impeccable fashion, demonstrating the high caliber of these musicians… Sarasota Herald Tribune April 10 Gail Williams No doubt we have been blessed in recent years with some excellent orchestras performing in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, including orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and our own Sarasota Orchestra, but a performance on Wednesday evening inspires us to name the National Philharmonic of Russia the best of them all. Commissioned by President Vladimir Putin in 2003 to pull together Russia's top musical talent under the leadership of the renowned conductor and violinist Vladimir Spivakov, the National Philharmonic of Russia tours all over the world as the cultural ambassador of the "new" Russia. And they represented their country in grand style with a program of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky performed impeccably. Focusing on Tchaikovsky's stage works with the Polonaise from his opera "Eugene Onegin" and then ending with the sweeping lyricism of his Sleeping Beauty Suite, Op. 66, from the ballet, Spivakov and his musicians achieved a string sound of luscious beauty with a bejeweled shining edge. The winds played with perfection, each principal a seeming virtuosic soloist. MIAMI HERALD April 12, 2009 Lawrence A. Johnson The final season of the Concert Association of Florida was, fittingly, framed by Russian orchestras: Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra last November and Vladimir Spivakov and the National Philharmonic of Russia on Friday night at the Adrienne Arsht Center. There is a bewildering supply of Russian orchestras…Yet the National Philharmonic is clearly among Russia's finest, as well as its youngest, formed just six years ago. From top to bottom, the ensemble is composed of virtuoso musicians… The Phœnix April 23, 2009 Geoffrey Ganz The orchestra isn't even six years old, so it's not comparable to, say, the august Leningrad Philharmonic (now, of course, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic) that Evgeny Mravinsky rode herd on for so many years. But it's a very good orchestra, and worthy of being a Celebrity Series presentation in Symphony Hall. …there was much to celebrate: the trombones and the tuba and the sauntering tenor saxophone in "Montagues and Capulets"; the snickering, "I do bite my thumb, sir" cakewalk of "Masks" (the dance that Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio perform before entering the Capulet palazzo); Spivakov's propulsive energy in "Death of Tybalt" and the kaleidoscopic glory of his sound palette. Like the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev last month, the National Philharmonic gave a master class in Prokofiev… The Star April 29. 2009 John Terods Under founding music director Vladimir Spivakov (who has conducted in Toronto before), the visitors served up some Greatest Hits of Russian Music in a way that honoured a rich tradition while making the pieces sound as fresh as wet ink on a sheet of paper. The Globe and Mail April 30, 2009 Ken Winters It was impossible not to feel, Tuesday night at Roy Thomson Hall, how immeasurably poorer symphonic music would be without its Russian component. The National Philharmonic of Russia, conducted by Vladimir Spivakov, presented… familiar pieces by Tchaikovsky, Liadov, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev. But heard together, played by these Russian musicians.., they added up to something more distinctive and arresting than their parts. Here, in a concentrated format, was music not just different in its colour and effects from the German, the Italian, the French, the Spanish, the English. Its blood was somehow redder, its identity more vivid. Then there were the performances, with every player at full stretch, hearts on sleeves, the pride in their music and their execution of it quite palpable. It was as if the music were not so much analyzed and presented as understood and communicated. It was all magically new-minted, very engaging, very exciting. We don't ordinarily hear orchestral concerts of this concentrated ownership and singularity and commitment in Toronto. Chicago Tribune May 2, 2009 John Van Rhein When a visiting orchestra unfurls its colors as proudly as did the National Philharmonic of Russia at its Chicago debut Thursday in Orchestra Hall, it makes one nostalgic for those days when ensembles were instantly recognizable by the distinctive national styles reflected in their performances. …It will be a pleasure to hear this splendid orchestra again.