album review

Handel and Haydn Society, Haydn Symphonies and Violin Concerto

Handel and Haydn Society,
conducted by Harry Christophers



Recorded live in Symphony Hall in January of 2015, this all-Haydn disc from the Handel and Haydn Society combines the authenticity of period instruments with the interpretive skills of H+H artistic director Harry Christophers. Symphony No. 7, “Le midi,” is the middle member of a trio nicknamed “Morning,” “Noon,” and “Night.” Christophers’s reading begins in majesty but soon starts bustling as if in preparation for a midday picnic, cheery and sunlit, with breezy conversation and the occasional hunting horn. The C-minor Adagio finds concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky’s wistful solo reflections punctuated by dramatic orchestra outbursts before her violin finds solace in dialogue with Guy Fishman’s cello. Rustic horns dominate the Menuetto; Christopher Krueger’s flute burbles through the Allegro finale like a gentle stream.


As the soloist and leader in Haydn’s C-major Violin Concerto, Nosky plays with a wiry, puckering tone that gives character to the Allegro moderato, and the orchestra is crystalline. Her Adagio, very quick over pizzicato strings, is more of an intermezzo; the Presto finale is good-humored and not pushed too hard.

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Haydn’s Symphony No. 83, “La poule,” gets its nickname from the clucking sound the strings make in the opening Allegro spiritoso, and the hen keeps coming back and interrupting the intense main theme. Christophers is tender and dreamy in the Andante, ebullient in the Menuet, with a nicely contrasted Trio. The Vivace finale hunts in all directions, perhaps looking for dinner, but the hen escapes unscathed.


Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at