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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Subscribe Now for a Season of Anniversaries

From now until late September, Moscow music lovers still have a chance to take advantage of one of the city's great musical bargains, the more than 70 subscription series being offered for concerts this coming season at the Moscow Conservatory and Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.

Subscription series programs cover virtually the entire range of classical music, from orchestral music, both light and heavy, to concert performances of opera, chamber music and solo recitals, with a bow as well to the world of jazz. Prices for each series -- made up of between three and five concerts -- begin as low as 9,000 rubles ($1.70) and range upward, with a few exceptions, to no more than 50,000 rubles. Relative to the cost of buying tickets individually during the course of the season, this can often mean a saving of more than 50 percent.

Apart from price, the great advantage of subscribing lies in the assurance of good seats for those concerts one particularly wants to hear. On the negative side is the fact that concert dates are, for the most part, kept a dark secret until after the season begins, and then often announced only a few weeks in advance.

The coming season marks the 90th birthday of Dmitry Shostakovich and the 200th of Franz Schubert, as well as the 100th anniversary of the death of Johannes Brahms. Given the particular Russian fondness for observing such occasions, the season's subscription concerts find music of all three composers programmed in abundance.

The most popular series of all, now as in the recent past, is that featuring the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and its musical director Yevgeny Svetlanov at the Conservatory. Svetlanov, whose series has very few subscriptions remaining, is the only major conductor of the Soviet era who still appears in Moscow with any regularity. He presides over three of five programs, offering the ninth symphonies of Shostakovich and Anton Bruckner, works of Igor Stravinsky and an evening of "Jewish Music," including the conductor's own "Rhapsody No. 2."

Apart from Svetlanov's, the best orchestral series are likely to be those led by two conductors of a younger generation, Valery Polyansky and Vladimir Ponkin.

Polyansky is a masterful interpreter of choral music and his scheduled programs with the State Symphonic Capella include Mozart's "Requiem," Gioacchino Rossini's "Stabat Mater," choral works of Sergei Rachmaninov and Joseph Haydn's oratorio "The Seasons." With the exception of "Seasons" at the Tchaikovsky, Polyansky will be conducting at the Conservatory.

Ponkin, together with the orchestra which bears his name, have in store at the Conservatory a four-concert Brahms cycle, including all of the composer's concertos, a concert performance of Rossini's opera, "Moses," and an evening devoted to the music of contemporary Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. Also scheduled in one of Ponkin's series is a musical event likely to prove among the season's most memorable, a playing of the Requiem of Krzysztof Penderecki, under the eminent Polish composer's own direction.

The award for the most ambitious orchestral programming should probably go to Pavel Kogan and the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra with two series at the Conservatory -- one covering the last five symphonies of Gustav Mahler and the other made up of the complete symphonies of Brahms and complete piano concertos of Beethoven. If past listening experience is any guide, however, the musical results may prove somewhat less than satisfying.

Nearly all of the programs mentioned so far are scheduled to take place at the Moscow Conservatory. The array of orchestral series slated for the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall tend to have a more popular orientation and often include a mixed bag of performers. Not too surprisingly, there is an all-Tchaikovsky series, which includes concert performances by Halikon Opera of "The Queen of Spades" and the rarely heard "Ondine." Halikon Opera also appears in a series devoted to music of Vienna, bringing to the concert platform Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus."

The Tchaikovsky is also the venue of four piano series, including performances by such excellent artists as Nikolai Petrov, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Boris Berezovsky and Naum Shtarkman, as well as four series of organ concerts.

For lovers of chamber music, the subscription series scheduled for the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory offer a wide range of choice -- piano, violin, viola, cello and voice recitals, quartets and trios, music of the baroque era and, probably best of all, a four-series festival of Shostakovich and Beethoven, including a complete traversal of Shostakovich's 15 string quartets -- appropriately enough, by the Shostakovich Quartet -- and a mixed series featuring a truly all-star musical lineup: Yuri Bashmet, Viktor Tretyakov, Natalya Gutman, Eliso Virsaladze and the Borodin Quartet.

Unfortunately, what promised to be the high point of the coming season at the Conservatory's Small Hall, a five-concert series in late September and early October of Shostakovich and Beethoven played by the Borodin Quartet, has now bean canceled. It seems that over the summer the Borodin underwent a change of violists. Before it appears again in public, the group needs rehearsal time to assure maintaining its exacting standards of performance.

To find out the complete details as to who is performing what, one needs to examine the posters outside the Conservatory and the notice boards at its box office, located just inside the main entrance. Subscriptions for both venues can, for now, be purchased only at the Conservatory, although they may later become available at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall as well, once the current renovation work there has been completed.

The Moscow Conservatory is located at 13 Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya (formerly Ulitsa Gertsena). Tel. 229-0183. Nearest metro: Arbatskaya. Box office hours to the end of August are from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tues., Wed. and Thurs., and from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sat. Beginning in September, the box office will be open on a daily basis from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.