The Moscow Chamber Orchestra was created in 1956 by renowned conductor and violist Rudolf Barshai, and has long been considered a Russian national treasure. Always a magnet for the most talented and brilliant musicians in Moscow, the MCO has been an inspiration to important Russian composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich, who entrusted the first performance of his 14th Symphony to the Orchestra.
The "dynamic Moscow Chamber Orchestra" (New York Times) is one of the world's great ensembles. First called "the greatest chamber orchestra in the world" by D. Shostakovich, the legendary Moscow Chamber Orchestra (= MCO) will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2006. The Orchestra's present Music Director, brilliant American pianist/conductor Constantine Orbelian, has brought the MCO into a new era of international activity and acclaim since his appointment in 1991. For his remarkable achievements with the MCO, Orbelian was awarded the title "Honored Artist of Russia" by President Putin in 2004.
From its 1995 performance at the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the United Nations in San Francisco, to its 2004 performance at the U.S. State Department commemorating 70 years of diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow, the MCO brings its celebrated artistry to a wide range of international audiences. The MCO's international tours typically take the Orchestra to the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Korea, Japan, South Africa, South America, Canada and the USA. Maestro Orbelian and the MCO now perform more than 120 concerts per year, including one or more annual Carnegie Hall appearances since 1998, and a sold-out subscription series in the Great Hall of Moscow's famed Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Under Orbelian's leadership the Orchestra was accorded the honor of "Academic" in its official Russian title (The State Academic Chamber Orchestra of Russia).
The Moscow Chamber Orchestra's acclaimed series of recordings with Maestro Orbelian on the Delos label numbers 18 recent releases, with four more currently in production. Both in its stellar recordings and electrifying live performances, the Orchestra attracts universal excitement. "They truly perform as a single, luminous, singing voice," exclaimed Sensible Sound. As London's The Daily Telegraph put it, "The musicians channel all of their emotion into the music and give performances of such passion and musicalityŠ producing music making of both subtlety and verve." The MCO's 50th Anniversary season will feature music written or arranged for the Orchestra, in addition to music long associated with the MCO's illustrious history.
The MCO attracted Russia’s greatest soloists on their many concert tours. David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonid Kogan, Yehudi Menuhin, Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Spivakov and Victor Tretyakov graced the stages of the world’s most prestigious concert halls with the MCO. Recordings began to appear and receive prizes for their excellence. Their complete W.A. Mozart's Symphonies have become collector’s items, and their unrivaled interpretations of the works of Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli, Tomaso Albinoni and Boccherini became legendary. The most important Russian composers began writing music specifically for the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. D. Shostakovich, who entrusted the first performance of his 14th Symphony to the Orchestra, said: “This must be the greatest chamber orchestra in the world.”
After Rudolf Barshai’s emigration from the USSR, the MCO's music directors were the eminent violinists Igor Bezrodny, Victor Tretyakov and Andre Korsakov. In 1991, a milestone in the history of the MCO, the dazzling American pianist and conductor Constantine Orbelian was chosen to become Music Director of the orchestra. The appointment of San Francisco-born Maestro Orbelian to this most prestigious post was a breakthrough in Russian-American cultural relations.
The Orchestra’s present Music Director Constantine Orbelian has brought the MCO into a new era of international activity and acclaim since his appointment in 1991. For his remarkable achievements with the MCO, Orbelian was awarded the title “Honored Artist of Russia” by President Putin in 2004. Under Orbelian’s leadership the Orchestra was accorded the honor of “Academic” in its official Russian title (The State Academic Chamber Orchestra of Russia).
In 1998, Maestro Orbelian and the MCO started a whirlwind 55-city tour of North America, bringing the best of Russian and European orchestral music to audiences there since their last tour in 1978.
The orchestra's 1998 North American tour covered 55 cities in two separate tours. In addition to performances in the major music centers, Carnegie Hall in New York, The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and the new Chan Center for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, the MCO also performed in Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Phoenix.
Over the last seven years, the MCO has maintained an intensive touring schedule with over 80 concerts a year throughout Europe, Asia, South America and Scandinavia and nearly 40 in Russia. Among MCO’s credits are performances with such world-renowned musicians as James Galway (flute), Patrick Gallois (flute), Nicolai Gedda (tenor), Susanna Mildonian (harp), Boris Pergamenshchikov (cello), Philipp Hirschorn (violin), Ilya Grubert (violin), Araxia Davtian (soprano), Lubov Kazarnovskaya (soprano), Vladimir Krainev (piano), and Ewa Podleś (contralto) to name just a few. In May 1995, the MCO was Russia's cultural ambassador at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations Organization in San Francisco. Also, in 1995 the MCO was the first Russian orchestra to tour South Africa. In 1996 the orchestra was invited to perform for Heads of State at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Charity Concert in Davos, Switzerland.
Over the last two years, several MCO recordings were released - on the Chandos label - with Paganini’s Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 with the extraordinary violinist Ilya Grubert - first prize winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, a disc devoted to the music by Alexander Arutiunian including the Violin Concerto (Grubert), Sinfonietta for Strings, and Concertino for Piano and Orchestra with the composer’s daughter Narine Arutiunian as piano soloist, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, Visions Fugitive and Violin Concerto No. 1 with Ilya Grubert. The MCO also has a recent release on the Philips label of the Complete works for Piano and Orchestra of Felix Mendelssohn, with the brilliant Brazilian pianist Jean Louis Steuerman.
The MCO's acclaimed series of recordings with Maestro Orbelian on the Delos label numbers 18 recent releases, with four more currently in production. Both in its stellar recordings and electrifying live performances, the Orchestra attracts universal excitement. “They truly perform as a single, luminous, singing voice,” exclaimed Sensible Sound. As London’s The Daily Telegraph put it, “The musicians channel all of their emotion into the music and give performances of such passion and musicality, producing music making of both subtlety and verve.”
The “dynamic Moscow Chamber Orchestra” (New York Times) is one of the wo’s great ensembles. First called “the greatest chamber orchestra in the world” by Dmitri Shostakovich, the MCO celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2006. The MCO’s 50th Anniversary season featureed music written or arranged for the Orchestra, in addition to music long associated with the MCO’s illustrious history.