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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden gems, 24 July 2009
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Haydn: The Operas (Audio CD)
This set is a delight. I am a big fan of Haydn's music, but until fairly recently I didn't even know that he had written any operas. I came across this set (in a previous form) comprising eight operas and took a chance on the basis that I couldn't go too far wrong buying twenty discs of Haydn's music by first-rate musicians at this price. I was right.

If you know Dorati's Haydn symphony cycle you will know that he's a brilliant Haydn conductor. In the operas as in the symphonies he gets exactly the right balance of structure, melody and emotion and that knowing Haydn twinkle emerges in all the right places. The orchestra is excellent and the singers include Jessye Norman, Arleen Auger, Elly Ameling, Benjamin Luxon, Anthony Rolfe Johnson... Even the less well-known singers seem to these ears to be really excellent and the combination of Haydn's music and these performers produces something really special in places.

In my view, many of Haydn's works - the symphonies, mass settings, string quartets and piano trios, for example - are at least the equal of Mozart's. As entire works, the same cannot be said of the operas. The plots, even by the very forgiving standards of opera, are largely fatuous and there is a lot of recitative which (although true opera buffs will disapprove of this) I find rather tedious. However, I programme my CD player to cut out the recitative and what emerges is some truly wonderful vocal and choral writing, magnificently performed. These operas may not be dramatic masterpieces but they contain a wealth of magnificent and sadly neglected music.

At this price in slimline format there is no libretto included, but you do get a synopsis of each opera with references to the relevant track numbers, which is largely enough, I found. The packaging is attractive and the notes informative and very interesting. I am delighted with this set and get very great pleasure from it. I am sure you will too if you like Haydn or Mozart and I recommend it very highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A veritable bargain, despite a few niggles. Buy this set if you love Haydn!, 25 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Haydn: The Operas (Audio CD)
I brought this as a 'me' Christmas present.Haydn's operas were the one major part of his output that was missing from my collection. I knew of the recordings from their first issues on LP 40 odd years ago. I have listened just to part of Armida up to now and can have no complaints about the recorded sound on my machine - it certainly belies its age. I lusted after these recordings when they were first issued, but could not afford them at that time. Now they are a total bargain at £44 odd. There are 8 operas included in the box. If we assume that on LP each occupied 3 discs at (I guess) roughly £15 a set, that (according to http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/relativevalue.phpm purchasing power) would equate to £878 for the full set today. The performances, it goes without saying, are from the top drawer. Dorati, the conductor on all, had already recorded the first (I believe) set of Haydm symphonies. There are some stellar names among the soloists, includling Jessye Norman and Samuel Ramey. My only quibble has to be with the presentation. The lack of libretti has now to be a taken with these compendiums, but I wonder why it is really necessary. Perhaps the makers would say libretti are unnecessary in this age of everything on the internet. I found that for Armida on an Italian site, but without any translation. Fortunately, opera Italian tends to use the same phrases and we all know what 'oh mio cor' and 'oh numi' mean! What I did find irritating is that the short synopsis of each is separate from the cast list and track listings. It would be far better were each opera were treated as a discrete item. Decca has done the same in its Gluck box - although there the synopses are far fuller than in this set and there is less need for texts. I do think it is skimping for Decca not even to tell us the dates of first performances. My major niggle is that the final disc of the set includes a number of individual arias. much like Mozart's concert arias, some intended for insertion in works by other composers. These are no where mentioned in the booklet and we are not even told who the singers are. Shame on you Decca! One final point. Another reviewer mentions recitatives. These appear no longer than those in Mozart operas and vary from secco to fully accompanied. I certainly would not second the suggestion in that review that you programme them out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden gems, 16 Sept. 2014
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This set is a delight. I am a big fan of Haydn's music, but until fairly recently I didn't even know that he had written any operas. I came across this set (in a previous form) comprising eight operas and took a chance on the basis that I couldn't go too far wrong buying twenty discs of Haydn's music by first-rate musicians at this price. I was right.

If you know Dorati's Haydn symphony cycle you will know that he's a brilliant Haydn conductor. In the operas as in the symphonies he gets exactly the right balance of structure, melody and emotion and that knowing Haydn twinkle emerges in all the right places. The orchestra is excellent and the singers include Jessye Norman, Arleen Auger, Elly Ameling, Benjamin Luxon, Anthony Rolfe Johnson... Even the less well-known singers seem to these ears to be really excellent and the combination of Haydn's music and these performers produces something really special in places.

In my view, many of Haydn's works - the symphonies, mass settings, string quartets and piano trios, for example - are at least the equal of Mozart's. As entire works, the same cannot be said of the operas. The plots, even by the very forgiving standards of opera, are largely fatuous and there is a lot of recitative which (although true opera buffs will disapprove of this) I find rather tedious. However, I programme my CD player to cut out the recitative and what emerges is some truly wonderful vocal and choral writing, magnificently performed. These operas may not be dramatic masterpieces but they contain a wealth of magnificent and sadly neglected music.

At this price in slimline format there is no libretto included, but you do get a synopsis of each opera with references to the relevant track numbers, which is largely enough, I found. The packaging is attractive and the notes informative and very interesting. I am delighted with this set and get very great pleasure from it. I am sure you will too if you like Haydn or Mozart and I recommend it very highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Haydn: The Operas (Audio CD)
An excellent set of CDs. Met my expectations
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful rarity, 24 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Haydn: The Operas (Audio CD)
Arrived within reasonable time, well within the promised time, well-packaged and an excellent price. No libretti, of course, and this should be spelt out for those who do not know about this sort of bargain re-issue. For me a delight from start to finish.
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