Critic’s Choice

February 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm

By David Wright

Franz Joseph Haydn

“Haydn in Paris”—it has a nice Gershwinesque ring, doesn’t it? Imagine the old gent strolling the streets of the City of Light, bowing to the ladies, taking his coffee en plein air

Sad to say, that never happened. But Haydn’s music was the toast of Paris in the 1780s, when he was at the peak of his continent-wide fame. In 1784, a Parisian concert presenter, the Comte d’Ogny, commissioned six symphonies from the great man, placing at his disposal an orchestra of greater size and skill than he had ever known. Haydn responded with six splendid works tailored to the French taste for high drama and orchestral spectacle, one of which, the Symphony No. 82 in C major, “The Bear,” tops the bill at this weekend’s all-Haydn program by the Handel and Haydn Society at Symphony Hall.

Fans of the orchestra’s concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky, who soloed memorably last season in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, will welcome her return to the soloist role in Haydn’s Violin Concerto in G major. A picturesque early symphony, No. 6 in D major, “Le matin,” and the dramatic Overture to L’isola disabitata round out this characteristically generous program.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday in Symphony Hall. handelandhaydn.org; 617- 266-3605.

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