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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Petersburg Offers Musical Treats This Season

Ever since Zhenya in the movie "Irony of Fate" accidentally boarded a plane to Leningrad on New Year's Eve and ended up finding true love, Russia's northern capital has been a favorite destination for Muscovites looking for a change of scenery for the holidays.

This year, St. Petersburg has a lot of magic in store for music lovers with a series of concerts at the Shostakovich Philharmonic Great Hall and a slew of popular music treats.

The concerts run under the umbrella title "Christmas Encounters in Northern Palmira," an allusion to the Italian city's supposed similarity to St. Petersburg.

Working backwards, a highly recommended way in which to start your New Year's Eve celebrations is with conductor Mariss Jansons and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra at 6 p.m.

Jansons will lead the acclaimed ensemble through an evening of Johann Strauss waltzes in their answer to the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert.

Renowned Russian pianist Vladimir Krainyev will perform solo and with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Academic Symphony Orchestra on Sunday and Monday, respectively. His solo recital will comprise Brahms, Chopin and Prokofiev.

Christmas Day sees another distinguished pianist, Valery Afanasyev, come to town, this time in his capacity as a conductor, when he will lead the Academic Philharmonic Orchestra through a program of Brahms.

The festival starts Dec. 23 with maestro Yury Temirkanov in a mighty program of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony and Wagner's overture to "Lohengrin." The young superstar Yulian Rakhlin joins him in Brahms' Violin Concerto.

For those who have slightly different musical tastes, the week between Christmas and New Year's offers a couple of interesting rock options.

On Friday, the granddaddy of Russian rock, Boris Grebenshchikov, plays with his legendary group Akvarium at Oktyabrsky Concert Hall in his annual Christmas concert. Although Grebenshchikov has been busy remixing his songs with the electronic duo Deadushki, he has promised to play the classic versions at this concert.

Agata Kristi, a band of long-haired, anti-pretty boys from Yekaterinburg play the LenSoviet Palace of Culture on Sunday. The Cure-influenced foursome will introduce its new album "Chudesa" (Wonders), which promises to be "full of electronic sounds." Naturally, the 13-year-old band's classic hits will also be heard at the concert.

Led by the Samoilov brothers, the band was featured last week in "Weekend with Agata Kristi," a two-day special on MTV Russia.

Mumy Troll, perhaps the leading Russian rock group, has in the past easily filled 10,000-seat arenas, but on Monday they will be playing Hollywood Nites, a club that holds about 1,000 people. This will be the band's last Petersburg concert this millennium before it goes into the studio for a year. Mumy Troll's last two Moscow concerts, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, were sold out in the course of two days. The lucky few who get in will hear precisely 24 Mumy songs, promoters say, including the current hit "S Novym Godom, Kroshka" ("Happy New Year, Baby").

The Shostakovich Philharmonic Great Hall is located at 2 Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa. Tel. (812) 311-7333. The Oktyabrsky Concert Hall is located at 6 Ligovsky Prospekt. Tel. (812) 275-1300. The LenSoviet Palace of Culture is located at 42 Kamenoostrovsky Prospekt. Tel. (812) 346-04-41. Hollywood Nites is located at 6 Nevsky Prospekt. Tel. (812) 311-6077.