The Russian National Orchestra was founded in 1990 by pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev and is today recognized as one of the world’s top orchestras. Of its 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." The RNO has been 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 RNO is a frequent guest in the music capitals of Europe, Asia and the Americas, and at major international festivals such as Edinburgh, Shanghai, and the BBC Proms. The RNO is founding orchestra of Festival del Sole, held every July in California’s Napa Valley. RNO concerts are regularly aired on National Public Radio in the United States, the European Broadcasting Union, and Russia's Kultura channel.
Gramophone magazine called the first RNO CD release (1991) “an awe-inspiring experience; should human beings be able to play like this?” More than 80 recordings have followed on Deutsche Grammophon, Pentatone and other prestigious labels. Conductors represented in the RNO discography include Founder and Music Director Mikhail Pletnev, Vladimir Jurowski, Kent Nagano, Vasily Petrenko, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Carlo Ponti.
Recent award-winning releases include the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos recorded on Deutsche Grammophon, and Tchaikovsky’s six symphonies for Pentatone. The orchestra’s Shostakovich project, also on Pentatone, is acclaimed as “the most exciting cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies to be put down on disc, and easily the best recorded” (SACD.net).
The RNO's charity 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. Versions have since been released in Spanish, Russian and Mandarin.
The orchestra maintains a full Moscow season and has established the annual Grand Festival, which opens the Russian capital’s cultural season each September. Unique among the principal Russian ensembles, the RNO is a private institution funded with the support of individuals, corporations and foundations throughout the world.