Although these recordings were originally issued in the 1990s by Koch Schwann, the remasterings sound as much like a BIS recording as you could wish - spacious, sharply defined, wonderfully dynamic, with a fresh sense of the hall space around the orchestra. Wonderful musically too, rhythmically responsive to the phrase, but tenderly expressive when the music demands. I don't think I've ever heard a better example of period instruments used to their greatest advantage, fast and immediate with gutty and textured strings, beautifuly blended winds and horns. (But listen to the rasping excitement of the horns in the early overtures!) The playing is magnificent throughout what is effectively a potted history of Haydn's stylistic evolution. What a distance from the cheerful early overtures to the impressionistic interludes from Creation and The Seasons, and above all the extraordinarily powerful introduction to the 7 Last Words - perhaps the emotional peak of a carefully planned sequence. Much unfamiliar music too.
22 short pieces might not seem the most attractive proposition - fret not, it's very, very hard to stop listening to this terrific set! You'll always want to hear "just one more, please!" before you retire (very late) to bed.
Don't miss it - the outstanding sound quality is a compelling reason alone to buy it, but there's much more to it than that.
Jayne Lee Wilson