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Customer Review

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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