Haydn Symphonies with Christophers and H+H


Mar. 3, 2014

Handel and Haydn Society in concert

Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra in concert with violinist Aisslinn Nosky and conductor Harry Christophers (courtesy of H+H)

The works by one of history's most prolific composers of orchestral music are demanding of ensembles and a delight for audiences.

Harry Christophers leads the Handel and Haydn Society in two of Franz Josef Haydn's symphonies, and H+H Concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky is the soloist in one of the classical master's violin concertos.

The Handel and Haydn Society, America's oldest continuously performing arts organization, was already one of the country's finest period-instrument ensembles in 2008 when Harry Christophers took on the role of the organization's Artistic Director. During the last six years, the orchestra and chorus have gone from strength to strength, releasing several recordings along the way, notably a trilogy of Mozart masses.


Now Christophers and H+H inaugurate a new series of recordings dedicated to a namesake composer of the organization. Two symphonies - No. 6, named "Le Matin" by the composer, and No. 82, known to us as the "Bear," provide a glimpse into the vast range of colors and textures inherent in Haydn's works.

And while Mozart has consistently outshined Haydn in the popular imagination when it comes to concertos, Aisslinn Nosky demonstrates how much we're missing if we don't also explore the elder composer's works featuring her instrument with an elegant, characterful performance of the Violin Concerto in G major.

As you'll hear in a conversation between Harry Christophers and WCRB's Brian McCreath (click on "Listen" at the top of this page), the choice of "Le Matin" for this release has a sentimental aspect. In 2006 he conducted the piece in the very concert hall for which it was written, at the Esterhazy Palace, just outside Vienna.

Haydn Hall
Haydn Hall at Esterhazy Palace (credit Zairon, via Wikimedia Commons)

Beautifully ornate and configured in the classic shoebox shape of such legendary concert spaces as Vienna's Musikverein, Esterhazy's concert hall is both visually and acoutically stunning. It's enough to make any performance of a Haydn symphony special for a conductor. But that 2006 concert has extra significance: it was the first time Harry Christophers had led the orchestra of the Handel and Haydn Society.

The recording you'll hear throughout the week on 99.5 WCRB was recorded in concert at one of Boston's own legendary performance spaces, Symphony Hall. Tune in each day for more from this recording, and for information about the Mar. 14 and 16 performances of choral works by Johann Sebastian Bach and William Byrd, visit the Handel and Haydn Society.

Watch video of H+H's Ian Watson playing the fortepiano in WCRB's Fraser Performance Studio:


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