There’s a veritable Russian invasion of Coventry imminent if Warwick Arts Centre’s season is anything to go by, with an attractive line up of Russian music and a couple of Russian orchestras. Leading the cossack charge was the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, one of Moscow’s longest-established orchestras. Under conductor Denis Lotoev, it tackled one of the greatest Russian symphonies in the repertoire: Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, a dark work, premiered just nine days before the composer’s death ; followed by Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (the “Grand Duchy of Finland” was then part of Russian Empire) whose  third movement – described once by Donald Tovey as a “polonaise for polar bears” – is a rollicking finale, throwing down the gauntlet to the soloist Jennifer Pike, 2002 winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year, who accepted the challenge.

Viktor Hartmann's <i>The Heroes' Gate at Kiev</i>
Viktor Hartmann's The Heroes' Gate at Kiev
For those who couldn’t make it to this concert, wait for the end of the season to hear the other Russian orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic. Formed in 1951, the orchestra was for decades associated with legendary conductor Kirill Kondrashin and together they premiered several Shostakovich works, including the controversial Fourth Symphony. Shostakovich is on the bill at the Warwick Arts Centre in the form of the Festive Overture. It is joined by a couple of great Russian warhorses – Rachmaninov’s titanic Third Piano Concerto, featuring former BBC Young Musician of the Year Freddy Kempf, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The latter was inspired by the works of artist Viktor Hartmann, Mussorgsky depicting ten paintings or drawings, ending with the epic “Great Gate of Kiev”, based on a design for a monumental gate to commemorate Tsar Alexander II's narrow escape from an assassination attempt in 1866. Hartmann’s design won a national competition, but the gate was never built. Musically, “The Great Gate of Kiev” is a bombastic explosion of sound, dominated by crashing percussion – a perfect way to end a concert!

Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky are concert hall favourites and it is no surprise that they feature strongly in the season. Christoph König conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Rachmaninov’s romantic Second Symphony. Listen out for the gorgeous opening to the third movement Adagio – one of the great clarinet solos in the entire orchestral repertoire – and the dashing second movement, like a glittering troika ride through a Russian winter. The RPO is joined by popular violinist Tasmin Little for Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1. More Rachmaninov comes courtesy of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and pianist Stephen Hough, who tackles the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, a work full of devilish detail and tricksy variations on Paganini’s most famous violin caprice. Each of the 24 variations are short, but jewel-like, the 18th a beloved pearl of the piano repertoire.

Veronika Dzhioeva © A Bolkvadze
Veronika Dzhioeva
© A Bolkvadze
Just before Christmas, the Philharmonia visits with an all-Tchaikovsky programme. Appropriately for December, Jac van Steen includes excerpts fromThe Nutcracker, a tasty confection for sweet-toothed classical fans, along with music from another great ballet, Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky was also a great opera composer, his most popular one being Eugene Onegin, based on Pushkin. In a letter, teenager Tatyana declares her love for aloof neighbour, Onegin, only to be rejected with devastating consequences. Baritone Tommi Hakala and soprano Veronika Dzhioeva give us a taste of this wonderful opera.

Away from the Russian steppes, Warwick Arts Centre welcomes the Czech National Symphony Orchestra who brings Smetana and Dvořák from their homeland, along with Edvard Grieg’s evergreen Piano Concerto, featuring British pianist Mark Bebbington.

Lovers of Baroque and classical repertoire won’t want to miss the European Union Chamber Orchestra (in Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) or the Armonico Consort, which performs Bach’sSt Matthew Passion in March.

Chamber music is an important part of the season too. The Coull Quartet performs four programmes, including an intriguing one entitled ‘Flights of fancy’, with work’s by Haydn, Schnittke and Beethoven’s breathtaking Grosse fugue Op. 133. Nicola Benedetti, another formed BBCYM winner, appears alongside cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Sasha Grynyuk for an evening of piano trios. Ravel’s Piano Trio is justly celebrated, as is Brahms’ Piano Trio no. 1, but the programme also includes two contemporary works, including one by Mark-Anthony Turnage written for the ensemble.

Whatever your musical tastes, you’re bound to find something in Warwick Arts Centre’s line-up to send you to Coventry this season.