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on 16 April 2001
Well, I have to disagree with the sour 2 star review below. These recordings of the London Symphonies are almost faultless. They are spirited, warm, intelligent, witty, dramatic and superbly played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The recording sounds great, too. This Haydn puts a big smile on your face; as Haydn should. I am not alone in my opinion as these recordings are widely recommended. I own and enjoy the below mentioned Jochum and Bernstein, too. I would lean in favour of Davis' recordings because they possess an extra measure of sparkle, zest and humanity, and the playing of the Concertgebouw is peerless - very musical. You are unlikely to tire of these recordings.
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on 20 May 2002
I love these symphonies - their warmth, wit, humour and humanity, within a carefully structured classical framework. To me Colin Davis' set brings this out better than anyone else except the vintage recording of Beecham (and of course the sound is better). Moreover it is at mid price. Personally I don't find that period instruments add anything over modern ones - there are losses as well as gains. Obviously a matter of taste, though I wonder which Haydn would have used if he had been alive today and able to choose?
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on 9 June 2015
Haydn creates an enormous feling of joy throught all hs music,partiulary in his symphonies. The early symphonies are still not as well known as they should be, and the ones in the forties to the seventies, though often played and recorded, are less appreciated than the London group.
The present disc's are a wonderful two and a half hours of listening, orchestral playing is exemplary and the ambience of the Cocergebouw hall adds greatly to the overall pleasure. Davis had an intuitive undestanding of Haydn's sound world which is bourn out by his consistancy in all six symphonies,as are tempos and phrase lengths.
Davis drives outer movements with appropriate tension' but without harhness and never fails to convey the zest and sense of fun the music demands.Slow movements are treated with due dillegence but without mockishness or sentimentallity. In many performances by other conductors( some famous names;) their efforts are unermined by taking the Minuet third movents either too fast too galumty( my word!) ,or too slow.Davis gets all six exactly in the 'Goldilocks'range, whereby the music bounds with life enhansing thrust . All in all tnis issue together with vol2 represents not only the best recordings off the London symphonies but one of most joyous recorbings of music ever made.
My advice tothe reader,or potential buyer is do what i did, pour yourself a goodly dram put this record in the slot,sit back in the quiet and have your life enriched!
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on 13 October 2014
I wont profess to be a classicist. Like a good glass of beer I know what I like and I like both this cd being vol 1 and I also like vol 2.

I am not a listener who either falls into the "the big band" recordings school or the back to basics school of thought who like their classical music played on period instruments although I have to say I find some of the recordings played on period instruments to be a little thin. So I presume these recordings by Sir Colin Davis fall into the "big band" category. But I really enjoy them because they are to my untutored ears relatively bright and breezy when they should be and the sound throughout is beautifully crisp and clean. Some might say these symphonies dont make too much demands on the listener but for me whether I play vol 1 or 2 they are just perfect for a relaxing Sunday morning. And what makes them especially attractive is that you get so many symphonies at an incredible price.
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on 6 April 2010
A lovely rendition of Haydn's London Symphony's.
You should buy with Volume 2, to complete the set.
It may not have the caché of having period instruments, but the recording is very nicely played by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra and conducted with a certain light and pleasing (to my ear any way) manner by Colin Davis.
At the price you can't go wrong. Buy it. If you really like it, look for a another recording later.
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Why is it that I'm happy to own multiple recordings of Beethoven's, Brahms', and Mozart's major works but that I don't feel the need to have as much Haydn? As I cull my CD collection to make room for new purchases, I'm finding that I can readily give up the recordings of Haydn's twelve "London" symphonies by Jochum and Szell and be content to keep Colin Davis's two Philips Duo sets. There's nothing wrong with the performances by Jochum (DGG) and Szell (CBS/Sony), but I don't find their differences from Davis's -- which seem to me minor -- makes up for the superiority in sound on the Philips discs. Davis brings plenty of energy to his accounts, but the sound is warmer and overall more transparent in what it enables us to hear of solo instruments and the different sections of the orchestra. These recordings are from the late 1970s-early 1980's, with the later ones being digital. The analogue recordings are fine, though. Jochum's accounts are 8-10 years earlier, and their sound can be a bit bright or glaring in the loud, high writing, while Szell's 1960's recordings are drier in sound and a bit more homogenous. I stress, though, that neither Jochum's nor Szell's sound is terrible, and I wouldn't be without Szell in Beethoven and Brahms or Jochum in Beethoven and Bruckner. It's just that I feel that I don't need all that Haydn.

I like historically-informed performances, and I own the Veritas set of the six Paris symphonies of Haydn, with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, in nice digital sound, conducted by Kuijken. Haydn's fertility of invention never ceases to delight me, but somehow I don't feel the need of a lot of different points of view on it.
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on 14 May 2013
We had not often listened to Haydn, but had liked that that we had heard. So when it came to the thorny Decision what I should give my Wife as a Hochzeitgeschenk I thought I'd surprise her, we both liked the Recording a great Deal.
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on 28 December 2013
A great orchestra with superb interpretations of each of these symphonies under the baton of Sir Colin Davies. It is not just the popular, nick-named symphonies which receive great performances; rather it is a double-CD package of brilliance.
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on 3 April 2002
These CDs have been much praised, particularly in the UK. Some of the symphonies are also available on a Philips 50 disc, which claims to be remastered - certainly sounds no worse, but better? - maybe not.
The performances are reasonably well recorded, and musically put together, but perhaps rather safe.
Dorati's performances are available on 2CD sets from Decca at the same price as the Philips, though there is also a Penguin CD, which must be poor value in comparison.
Some other recordings are also worth consideration - for example Szell on Sony, which are very good, while for much more life I would suggest investigating period instrument performances.
Bruggen's are now being issued in the same Philips Duo series which makes them competitive - though the much more expensive box set is still available.
Nicolas Harnoncourt has trodden a path between period and conventional performances, so that even when he records with a full symphony orchestra his style is strongly influenced by influences from the period instrument movement.
He has recorded Haydn symphonies with the same orchestra as Davis - the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (Teldec or Ultima), and also with the Vienna Concentus Musicus (Das Alte Werke), and his performances could certainly be worth investigating.
Other conductors of period style orchestras include Sigiswald Kuijken and Christopher Hogwood.
For individual performances at least their performances may exhibit even more life than Bruggen's, though some may find that the sound puts them off.
You get used to it - and the results are very worthwhile. Although I would rather hear an excellent performance on a full symphony orchestra than a poor performance on a period orchestra, I would generally rather hear a good performance on a period orchestra - and many of such performances which are available are excellent.
Throw out the stodge and give period performances a try.
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on 23 June 2014
Reader, meetings of the Australian Knappertsbusch Association could be likened to the Night of the Short Toothpicks: humanity has rarely been so debased and depraved. Under the circumstances, it is appropriate that Australia's Cultural Attaché to the Court of St James - Sir Les Patterson - has condemned the AKA for its debauchery and racial stereotyping. Nevertheless, these gatherings continue to be a source of enlightenment (which offsets the zinc depletion and cirrhosis of the liver). Recently the Chief Procurement Officer suggested to the President (that's me) that Sir Colin Davis was a much better conductor of opera and choral works than symphonies. Upon reflection, this is a bullseye. After all, who can endure his pedestrian Beethoven (Staatkapelle Dresden), his late Mozart symphonies with the same orchestra or that Schubert cycle with whomever (good lord)? Tell me, oh tell me true that he did not record Schumann! His London-based Bruckner- against all odds - has featured in Black Masses. Perhaps an exception can be made for his Berlioz or Sibelius; Karajan & Kamu in hand, I've never been tempted to chase down the latter. As the rule goes, if the latter-day Gramophone panegyrises it - welcome to the Inner Station - that's reason in itself to avoid it like the pox.

That leaves his Haydn which has been universally celebrated since the day of its release. As augurs would have noted at the time, it was recorded at Fort Haitink which is minatory in itself . . . . . . Wait on - who's that distinguished looking gentleman with the chrome-dome? What's he doing here? What does he want? Should I call security?

Look, if you like thoughtful, polite, lively, energetic, civil, spruce, poetic, well-proportioned, urbane, understandable, witty, suave, songful, respectful, carbon-neutral and cogent Haydn, played by a slimmed-down virtuoso orchestra, there is none better than Davis. Nor does he stress the listener with bothersome metaphysics. Yep, this cycle comes with the imprimatur of Bernard Haitink. To my mind, that's the downfall of this set: it's praiseworthy AND boring - what a herculean feat!

Where is the vision? Where is the ecstasy (in contrast to playing fast merely for the sake of it)? Where is the danger? Where are the imperatives to change one's life or viewpoint? Where is my old mate the Devil or his celestial counterpart?

The nasty, anachronistic and perverse vices of Herbie (full fat Haydn: The "Paris" & "London" Symphonies) and Lenny (full fat Haydn: 12 London, & 6 Paris Symphonies / Die Schopfung / 4 Masses) are intrinsically more interesting than Davis' virtues. Yes, their Minuets can be stately and imperious. Nevertheless they touch upon extremities and seismically so whereas Davis remains comfortably within the bounds of polite society. Compare the coda of the Military's first movement across the triumvirate: both Lenny and Herbie evoke divine madness whereas Davis channels the Haitink-within and modestly so. Other instances are legion.

For the past two decades plus I have spasmodically attempted to like this `burgomaster' cycle. This is my last attempt. Given the brevity of life, ave atque vale.
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