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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 23 July 2011
These recordings are the absolute pinnacle of Haydn symphony recordings on CD in my humble opinion. Why didn't Pinnock record the other early symphonies? Such a shame. Don't let anyone tell you that Haydn's best symphonies were his final twelve. I think the London Symphonies are marvellous, but for profundity of expression and sheer genius of originality, the 'Sturm und Drang' period is unsurpassed. Haydn owes nothing here to Mozart, as he did later...he was his own man, and what an artist! People who go on about the depth and humanity of Beethoven's last quartets, or the Saint Matthew Passion, ought to listen to the Andantino of Symphony No.42, or the Adagio of No. 44, and perhaps they would then value Joseph Haydn more highly. In symphonies like the 'Trauer' and the 'Farewell' Haydn creates a mood, and a sound picture, which is quite unique in my experience, both tragic...almost desolate...and dramatic at the same time. The spareness of the Esterhazy period orchestra only magnifies its emotional impact. Nothing I have ever heard in the classical repetoire affects me the same way as these works.
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on 28 June 2001
Excellent value, and excellent music - words can scarcely describe the sheer inventiveness, beauty and power of these revolutionary works! Lean, taut playing from the English Connert, unfussy and direct interpretations, and marvellous ensemble playing bring these incredible works to instant life. Sound quality is superb and the presentation - six discs in six envelopes in a plain card box - will surely be the norm in future for the serious collector.
This is the best value purchase I have made in years, and one of the most inspirational. Buy it!
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on 12 September 2009
In my opinion,this is the best box of Haydn on the market,surpassing Dorati(great as his is)in sound and performance,and collecting in a handy box the most interesting of the works--out of 104 symphonies,we have here 19--enough for the curious,but marvellous for the committed also.Period instruments are not to all tastes,but are in no way inferior to modern,at least here.Do yourself a favour,buy this...you'll never regret it.
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This period of Haydn's middle symphonies known as 'Sturm und Drang' symphonies has long been my favourite period of his symphonic output. They have a vitality and expressiveness which, no matter how more complex and sophisticated his later works undoubtedly become, is quite without equal in the later works.

Partly this is a matter of scale and the more chamber sized orchestras used at this time in Haydn's career and as heard here, which allow for more flexibility and more dynamic contrast. By this latter I mean the relative difference in scale which can be achieved between the feather-light pianissimos to the really punchy fortissimos. The same applies to the contrasts possible in terms of instrumental textures where all the variety of instrumental writing has an almost chamber music level of immediacy and impact. All of these things add up to 'Strum und Drang' and which become softened with the larger orchestras and larger scaled later compositional ideas. Contrast the relatively muted effect of the 'surprise' in the Surprise symphony and hear how more effective the punching out dramatic effects are in any of these middle works which make use of the high horns for example. It is in the use of the high horns that Pinnock is slightly more restrained than Bruno Weil with Tafelmusik. Preference on this point will be a matter of personal taste.

So much for personal enthusiasms. Pinnock obviously shares the same view, as these performances come alive as never before. The playing of the orchestra is beyond superlative and Pinnock's direction is inspirational. The recordings are of equal merit and allow the full splendour of these performances to really shine and leap off the discs. The only performances to come anywhere near these are those in the boxed set by Bruno Weil and the Tafelmusik and they are sadly incomplete with 15 of Pinnock's set of 19 duplicated. The missing symphonies are 26, 35, 38-9 and 59 and 64 is added in. On the plus side Weil also includes an excellent set of Paris Symphonies though and at a very budget price. The Weil set offers similar scaled performances but a little less restrained in terms of the horn playing especially.

I can only suggest that if this set of these wonderful symphonies is of interest to purchasers or to collectors, then they most certainly merit the most serious consideration possible. Also to be given serious consideration should be the Bruno Weil set which overlaps rather than duplicates as described above.
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on 24 August 2013
I heard one of the symphonies in this set on Radio 3, which prompted me to look up the disks on Amazon. Once I had read the reviews above I had to buy the set, even though I have other recordings of these works.. I am so glad I did. Everything that has been said about the brilliance of the performances and the quality of the works is true. I cannot imagine better performances. My enjoyment was enhanced by the excellent booklet containing notes on each symphony by Nicholas Kenyon.
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on 7 October 2014
What a set! I've owned this for over 5 years and it's still an utter delight. Supine admiration of Haydn assumed, I won't go on about the exquisitness of these works because I'm sure you already know or you wouldn't be here. If, somehow, you don't know, then this collection is a wonderful place to start! The playing and conducting is absolutely first class: expressive, perfectly timed and consistently tighter than a chicken's backside. In fact I've not heard a better ensemble. The recording is very well engineered: airy, detailed and with plenty of bite and depth. I only heard one minor glitch, but I'm not going to tell you where as you'll be distracted waiting for it. :-D An essential purchase.
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This is a simply superb box of magnificent music, excellently performed. Haydn's "Sturm und Drang" symphonies, written between roughly 1766 and 1773 constitute a great body of work even by Haydn's own stellar standards, full of emotional intensity, minor-key angst and drama – and of course, there's still some of his trademark wit and knowing twinkle in places. It's great music, conceived for a fairly small orchestra, and Pinnock's English Concert get it just right, I think.

There is, as you would expect from Pinnock, careful scholarship and consideration of every movement, which shows itself not in dry, academic performances but in the variety and depth of emotion in every movement. This is also due to the excellence of the players; a glance at the names in the English Concert at this time (the set was recorded in the very late 80s) will give you an idea: Simon Standage, Andrew Manze, Lisa Beznosiuk to name but three. It's a terrific ensemble and combined with Pinnock's direction (and excellent harpsichord work) they produce something pretty special.

I love this set. The recorded sound is very good, the notes by Nicholas Kenyon are very informative and (like all these Archiv reissues) it's nicely presented with an attractive box and simple but good cardboard sleeves for each disc. At the time of writing it costs around fifteen quid, which for six CDs of this quality is an absolute steal, so my advice is to snap it up. It's a gem.
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on 25 May 2015
Nothing much to say about this 6 cd set that hasn't already been said.The performances by Trevor Pinnock's English Concert are simply outstanding and will delight any lover of 18th century orchestral music in general.Although some believe the late London symphonies to be the summit of Haydn's creativity I personally disagree with that.In my view Haydn was at the peak of his symphonic writing from the late 1760's to the mid 1780's - basically from the sturm und drang period up to and including the Paris symphonies.The sturm und drang period as referenced by this terrific box set offered turbulent,dramatic music that is full of bold harmonic shifts of which CPE Bach,Franz Beck,Jan Vanhal and Joseph Haydn are it's best representatives.

These recording's were made in 1988/89 during what many feel to be the English Concert's golden era (c 1979 - early 1990's) and the sound engineering from DG is exemplary.
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on 10 March 2016
These early symphonies of Joseph Haydn are a sheer joy and a delight to the ear. Trevor Pinnock with The English Concert has given us a feast of
Baroque music. His conducting is superb and he brings out Haydn's genius. Maybe there isn't the refinement of Haydn's later symphonies. However these earlier works have a unique sound that is extraordinarily pleasing. There is real passion in these works.
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on 31 March 2015
I already own the Decca London Symphonies conducted by Colin Davis and with this set which I absolutely love you have what might be called the fuller sound.

I am now the proud possessor of these "Sturm und Drang" symphonies by Trevor Pinnock which are played on traditional instruments and by a smaller traditional orchestra. I also love this box set. The sound is crisp and clean and the melodies constantly shine through. The whole listening experience is uplifting and refreshing and I cannot recommend this set highly enough. And what extraordinary value. Where else could one buy 19 (yes 19) excellent symphonies for this sort of price.
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