Oct 04

HaydnEditionHaydn Edition, Brilliant Classics ★★★★★
This is not a complete set of Haydn works, but the closest there is on the market. Assembled by Brilliant Classics, this is a steal at $130 for 150 CDs and 6 days, 17 hours and 40 minutes of listening time. It took me over a month to get through this set. The works can be divided up into 8 sections.
a) The symphonies – these were performed by Adam Fischer and the Austrio-Hungarian symphony. Though some of the Haydn symphonies are tedious, Fischer does an excellent job with these, and the recording quality is superb. I also have the set by Antal Dorati, and Fischer offers a nice alternative to Dorati’s set.
b) Concertos – These were performed by a mixture of groups. The recording quality was mixed, and performances good but none of the performances were notably outstanding.
c) Choral works- These were mixed. Brilliant did not include all of his masses, and the masses included have been better performed elsewhere. Even still, the recordings of the masses were excellent and worthy of having. The two cantatas (The Seasons and The Creation) also are better performed elsewhere, even though the included recordings are excellent. The operas are well done but tedious to listen to. This does not seem to be the performers fault, as the operas all sound like the early, less mature Mozart operas.
d) Folk songs-Most of these songs were in English, and written (I presume) while Haydn was in England. These truly were the least desireable part of this set. The songs for the most part all sounded the same. They were a challenge to get through.
e) String Quartets- The String Quartets were all produced by the Buchberger Quartet, and superb. The performances, as well as the recordings were delightful and a joy to listen to.
f) Piano trios- Performed by the Van Swieten Trio, they are quite capably performed. I am not as familiar with his piano trios as Haydn’s other works, so cannot offer great comments, except that they were nicely done.
g) Baryton trios- These are recordings that I have never heard of. I had to look up the definition of a baryton, which is sort of like a cello but with more strings, and strings of different types. The Esterhazy Ensemble is one of the groups instrumental in resurrecting the baryton, and their recordings are well done and most delightful. It is sad that these works are not better known, and I applaud the Esterhazy Ensemble for their wonderful performances of these pieces.
i) Piano solo works – these are offered by a mixture of performers. The recording quality is excellent, and the performances are well done, though none stood out as remarkable.
In summary, the Brilliant Edition is a true bargain for a mix of good to excellent performances of the works of Haydn, with no recordings being truly bad. For the Haydn collector, this is a no-brainer. If you don’t like Haydn, then you probably should not be reading this review.

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