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Minnesota Orchestra opens season and ‘Russian Spectacular’ series this week

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Russian composers, that is. The Minnesota Orchestra opens its 107th season this week by plunging into a three-week “Russian Spectacular” that features Tchaikovsky piano-orchestra works that will be recorded for later release. Osmo Vänskä will conduct all the programs and all will be performed in Orchestra Hall.

Pianist and MacArthur “genius award” fellow Stephen Hough will record Tchaikovsky’s Concerto Fantasia with the orchestra during concerts that are offered this week, beginning Thursday. Next week he’ll record the Piano Concerto No. 1 — that’s right, the big boomer — in performances that should draw big audiences. Those two works, plus two other Tchaikovsky pieces recorded earlier, are scheduled to be released in 2010 on the Hyperion label.

The program for this week’s concerts also includes Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije” Suite and selections for Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” ballet. And, of course, each performance will begin with the traditional season-opening playing of the national anthem. Performance and ticket information can be found here.

The program for the Oct. 1-3 concerts includes the Tchaikovsky No. 1 concerto, plus (gasp!) some works by non-Russians: Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” and Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin.” Go here for details.

The concluding concerts on Oct. 8-10 include Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, plus works by Glinka, Mosolov, Lyadov and Khachaturian. Details here.

Like all arts organizations these days, the Minnesota Orchestra is trolling for customers. The latest deal is tickets to three concerts for $49. And it’s claimed that the seats are among the best in Orchestra Hall. The offer is good through the end of the month.

“Russian Spectacular: Vänskä, Hough and Sleeping Beauty.” Thursday, Sept. 24, 11 a.m.; Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m., all at Orchestra Hall. Tickets and other details here.

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