Classical music

Critic's picks

Harry Christophers will lead the Handel and Haydn Society in “Messiah.’’ Harry Christophers will lead the Handel and Haydn Society in “Messiah.’’ (Stu Rosner)
By Jeremy Eichler
Globe Staff / November 21, 2010

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BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL For its third annual production of period chamber opera in Jordan Hall, BEMF offers Purcell’s much-loved “Dido and Aeneas.’’ The orchestra will be led by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, with staging by Gilbert Blin. Laura Pudwell and Douglas Williams will perform the title roles. Nov. 27 at 8 p.m., Nov. 28 at 3 p.m., $19-$120. 617-661-1812.

ALL-BEETHOVEN CHAMBER MUSIC The Chiara Quartet, Harvard’s resident string quartet, continues its Beethoven cycle with the Quartets Op. 18, No. 2; Op. 74; and Op. 131. 8 p.m. Dec. 1. Paine Hall, Harvard University. Free but passes required. 617-496-2222. Boston Chamber Music Society offers its own all-Beethoven bill with an opus number-themed program: the “Serioso’’ Quartet (Op. 95), the Violin Sonata No. 10 (Op. 96), and the “Archduke’’ Trio (Op. 97). Dec. 11 at First Church in Boston, Dec. 12 at Longy School of Music in Cambridge. $35. 617-349-0086,

BOSTON SYMPHONY AND BOSTON POPS James Levine leads the BSO in John Harbison’s Symphony No. 2 and Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, with the sleek yet substantive Danish-born violinist Nikolaj Znaider returning for performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. Dec. 2-4. $29-$118. Keith Lockhart opens the Holiday Pops season on Dec. 8. $27-$125. Symphony Hall. 617-266-1200.

“MESSIAH’’ Harry Christophers has renewed (and revitalized) the Handel and Haydn Society’s commitment to the holiday favorite. Dec. 3, 4, and 5. $25-$87. Symphony Hall. 617-266-3605. The tireless Martin Pearlman leads Boston Baroque’s yearly Jordan Hall traversals on Dec. 10 and 11. $27-$68. 617-484-9200.

NEW ENGLAND STRING ORCHESTRA Federico Cortese’s promising program includes Janacek’s “Idyla’’; a string orchestra version of Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 18, No. 4; Bach’s D Major Keyboard Concerto (BWV 1054), with Robert Spano — more often spotted on the podium — as the piano soloist; and Derek Bermel’s “Soul Garden,’’ with Nadia Sirota as the viola soloist. Dec. 5, 3 p.m. $27-$47. Jordan Hall. 617-232-5216,

CONCERT FOR THE CURE Simon Rattle leads an assembled orchestra of local musicians in Brahms’s Second Symphony, the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 with soloist Marc-Andre Hamelin. Proceeds support breast cancer research. Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. $100-$150. Jordan Hall. 617-737-5111,

CHAMBER MUSIC FOR FOOD BANK Violist Kim Kashkashian has organized a series of one-hour benefit chamber concerts, with each program featuring a Mozart Viola Quintet paired with a solo Bach work. Next month brings Mozart’s C-major Quintet (with the Parker String Quartet) and Bach’s D-minor Partita. No tickets sold; attendees are asked to bring cans of food or a donation by check to the Greater Boston Food Bank. 6 p.m., Dec. 12, Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St. 617-585-1260,

GARDNER MUSEUM The excellent Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen forges ahead in his traversal of the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas (Dec. 12). And the high-spirited conductorless chamber orchestra A Far Cry offers an eclectic program with (old and new) classics by Bach, Elgar, Piazzolla, and Arvo Pärt (Dec. 19). $23. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 617-278-5156,

BOSTON CAMERATA Director Anne Azema leads the group’s popular holiday offering “An American Christmas,’’ the program’s first local performances since 2005. It features homegrown early music — anthems, hymns, ballads, carols — with many selections originating in New England. Dec. 16 at Follen Church Society in Lexington. Dec. 17 at First Church in Cambridge. Dec. 18 in Old West Church in Boston. Dec. 19 in First Parish Church in Newbury. $22-$46. 617-262-2092,

CHORAL OFFERINGS Many of the city’s choruses have big holiday plans. For instance: Cappella Clausura (Dec. 5, 11, and 12); Boston Cecilia (Dec. 10 and 12); Musica Sacra (Dec. 11); Back Bay Chorale (Dec. 11); Chorus Pro Musica (Dec. 17); Masterworks Chorale (Dec. 17-18); Blue Heron (Dec. 18).

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY John Finney leads “A Bach Christmas,’’ which includes H&H’s first performance of Bach’s Cantata No. 140 alongside music by Schutz, Telemann, and Buxtehude. Dec. 16 and 19, $38-$75. Jordan Hall. 617-266-3605,

BOSTON BAROQUE Under Martin Pearlman’s direction, the veteran period instrument band offers its annual pair of New Year’s performances, with works by Corelli, Bach, Geminiani, and Handel. Christina Day Martinson (violin) and Marc Schachman (oboe) are the featured soloists. Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 1 at 3 p.m., $29-$71, Sanders Theatre, 617-484-9200 or