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Classical CD review

Handel and Haydn Society

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY

Harry Christophers, artistic director

Works by Haydn

(Coro)

Back in 2009, Harry Christophers arrived at Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society with a reputation as a stellar choral conductor, based on his widely admired work with his British-based ensemble The Sixteen. His work to raise the standards of H&H’s own chorus moved quickly, and has now been documented in three recordings that Christophers and H&H have released on the Coro label.

This new fourth disc is the first H&H Coro recording without the chorus, allowing the Society’s period instrument orchestra the full dimensions of the spotlight. A sensible choice in repertoire has also been made, as the disc returns to one of the Society’s namesake composers, Haydn, by way of a handsomely contrasting pair of symphonies (Nos. 6 and 82) here placed alongside his G major Violin Concerto.

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The orchestral playing in both symphonies is full of character and exuberance, with Christopher Krueger (flute), Guy Fishman (cello), and Aisslinn Nosky (violin) contributing sparkling solo work. Nosky is also the fine soloist in the concerto, dispatching its third movement in particular as an appealing blend of rustic whirl and cosmopolitan style. Coro plans to release another H&H Christmas-themed disc later this month, and after that may come Haydn’s “Creation” and, naturally, Handel’s “Messiah.” It’s a wise move for the ensemble to be aggressively expanding its profile on disc, just in time for its bicentenary in 2015.

Jeremy Eichler can be reached at jeichler@globe.com
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