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Finest Sounds Flow into City

The Times described them as "one of the world's finest." London's Independent newspaper described their music as "totally uncompromising, never merely sensuous or elegant, devastating in its cruel vision."

Beijing classical music fans will soon be able to enjoy brilliant concerts from one of the top world ensembles - the Russian National Orchestra, under the baton of Mikhail Pletnev at the Great Hall of the People on February 3 and 4.

Born into a musician's family in Russia in 1957, Pletnev displayed an exceptional musical talent from an early age.

In 1990, he founded the Russian National Orchestra with the support of Mikhail Gorbachev and numerous Russian private sponsors and artists.

Attracted by his reputation and his vision of a new model for the performing arts in Russia, many of the finest musicians in the country joined him in launching the new orchestra.

In November 1990, their debut in Moscow achieved great success. Their first CD - "Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony Pathetique" was released the following year. "Gramophone," Britain's premier periodical on classical music, called it "an awe-inspiring experience; should human beings be able to play like this?" and listed it as the best recording of "Pathetique" in history.

Soon, the orchestra was in great demand all over the world. Touring engagements throughout the 1990s took the orchestra to the United States, Asia and to European countries, as well as to major international festivals including Edinburgh, Lucerne, Sydney and the 1996 Olympics Arts Festival in Atlanta.

In less than one decade, the orchestra has rapidly risen to fame for its award-winning recordings and sold out concerts at home and on international tours.

The concert on the evening of February 2 will consist of Rossini's "Gazzal Ladra Overture" and Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No 5."

The evening will also star another young but talented Chinese pianist Li Yundi, who is to play Chopin's "Piano Concerto No 1."

In 2000, Li won first prize at the 14th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, when he was only 18. He is the youngest gold medallist in the history of the competition as well as the first winner of the prize in 15 years (the prize was not awarded in the previous two competitions).

At the second concert, the orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky's "Suite No 1" and Sibelius's "Symphony No 2."

(China Daily January 17, 2002)

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