Haydn Symphonies - The Academy Of Ancient Music by Christopher Hogwood Box-Set
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Christopher Hogwoods Einspielung von Haydns Sinfonien mit der Academy of Ancient Music setzt Maßstäbe: historisch-informiert, aber nie akademisch, immer lebendig und voller Überraschungen, ein Haydn der von Lebenfreude nur so sprüht.
Diese limitierte Edition präsentiert Hogwoods berühmte Einspielungen auf 32 Tonträgern und ist ein Must have für Klassikfreunde. Hogwood lässt einen nicht nur die berühmten Sinfonien ganz neu erleben, er bricht auch eine Lanze für weniger bekannte Werke, die sich unter seiner Leitung als kleine funkelnde Meisterwerke entpuppen.
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Denn der Umfang des Haydn'schen symphonischen Werkes ist wirklich beträchtlich.
In der Ausführung sind die Interpreten jedoch vorzüglich,
sodass gewiss auch keine Langeweile aufkommt.
Ich würde diese Sammlung wieder kaufen.
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Hogwood's approach to Haydn is brisk but not breathless, bracing but not fierce, elegant but not mincing, scholarly but not pedantic. The AAM plays splendidly throughout (the natural horns, for which Haydn often wrote excruciatingly difficult parts in his early-to-middle period deserve special commendation). Hogwood and his band are always aware of the shifts in idiom and style that occur not only from one period of Haydn's career to the next, but often within a single work! Was there a style that this astonishingly resourceful composer had not mastered--Baroque, Galant, "Sturm und Drang," High Classical and even proto-Romantic? Though not always a "period performance" enthusiast, I find the AAM's spare ensemble sonority (presumably what Haydn would have had at his disposal in Esterhaza) and resultant chamber-music textures delightful, particularly in slow movements. I also applaud Hogwood's decision not to employ a harpsichord (or other) continuo; it is not needed, and its incessant clatter would prove quite distracting over the long haul of this very expansive symphonic canon. Textures emerge clearly, and often with fetching delicacy, without any reinforcement from a keyboard instrument. Hogwood favors taking all repeats, even those in the recap of the Minuets; some listeners may find this too much of a good thing, but this was the scholarly protocol Hogwood adhered to.
Despite occasional interpretive misfires, this is as consistently satisfying a HIP traversal of the bulk of Haydn's symphonic output as you will find. Strongly recommended -- though I would search elsewhere for an affordable copy.
ADDENDUM: Only a few days after I wrote the above review, I noted that the price for this set had come down significantly--though it is still quite high for what is, ostensibly, a "bargain box." If you have the means, however, this edition should prove either an invigorating introduction to these works or an invaluable supplement to whatever other Haydn recordings you have in your collection. Dorati's complete cycle, on modern instruments, is still the most generally recommendable way of acquiring "Haydn in bulk," though compared with Hogwood's airy lightness, Dorati's direction can seem heavy-handed.
Here is my original review, unchanged for the moment:
And so, here we have 32 CD's with almost 29 hours of Haydn symphonies, and it isn't even complete**! Most people would consider this too much of a good thing, but it actually isn't - and I've listened to this entire box, so I think that I can say that with some confidence.
You see, not too long ago, after noticing how many others, knowledgeable classical music fans all, talk about how enjoyable Haydn's symphonies are, I decided to explore them myself. I picked up Joseph Haydn: The Complete Symphonies - Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra when it was selling for a very low price here on Amazon, and I even added some other performances in order to get a mixture of conductors and orchestras and interpretations - I purchased Haydn: Paris Symphonies 82-87 (Sigiswald Kuijken conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment),Haydn: Symphonies 88-92 (Sigiswald Kuijken conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment),Haydn: Symphonies 76-78 (Roy Goodman conducting the Hanover Band, and Haydn: Symphonies 70-81: The Esterhazy Recordings (Adám Fischer conducting the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra).
A far amount of overlap with all of those recordings (added to the small number I already had in my collection before starting this journey), but the result was what I felt would be a very good variety of performances for comparisons as I became familiar with the music.
At about that same time, I ran across this Hogwood box at a good price on Amazon's UK site, and so I ordered it too (under two bucks per disc including shipping from the UK). That should do it!
I will even say that I purchased this Hogwood box with some reservations. I've had his Mozart cycle Mozart: The Symphonies for many years, and those performances have not always been my favorites. I knew that the Mozart recordings were made a decade or so earlier (late '70's to early '80's for the Mozart; late '80's to mid '90's for the Haydn), so there might have been some evolution in either Hogwood's performance style, or even in the recording techniques used. I decided to give them a try.
With this richness of CD's now in hand, I then decided to give myself a listening project: I would listen to Haydn's entire symphonic output, all 106 symphonies. I spread them out over several weeks, not listening only to Haydn but mixing it up with my other classical music, but I kept up a pretty consistent pace. I also listened to different recordings of the Haydn works along the way, some from the Davies box, some from this Hogwood box, and so forth.
And here is what I found - for myself, as I listened to this wonderful music, performed by several different and highly regarded orchestras and conductors, I found that I preferred this Hogwood set above any of the others. I especially prefer it over the Davies box, which is one that is very well liked in general. And that is why I ended up listening to everything from this Hogwood collection, supplementing it with other performances from my collection both for variety and to fill in the gaps where the Hogwood box is incomplete.
These performances, with Christopher Hogwood conducting the Academy of Ancient Music, have become my favorites for these works, despite being completely left out of the many pages of recommendations for Haydn's symphonies listed in my 2008 Penguin Guide! I do take some solace in the words of other reviewers, though; for example, Fanfare says these are "superlative classic performances" and of this box set "for Haydn aficionados this is absolutely indispensable". BBC Music Magazine says "They play this music with just the right blend of elegance and vigour, and their smooth, spare textures and clean lines continue to persuade me they were right to dispense with the harpsichord continuo. This is definitely the Haydn cycle to collect."
And so, my choice is to go with these Hogwood performances. But there are many others available as well. For those inclined to survey the field before making what is admittedly a non-trivial commitment when purchasing such a large set of recordings, here are some other complete sets to consider, in addition to the Davies box already mentioned above:
- Haydn: Complete Symphonies - Adám Fischer conducting the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra. Now available boxed by Brilliant Classics, originally issued by Nimbus. Penguin's top choice, and very good performances (I have several of the symphonies from this set, on separate CD release as mentioned above). (The .mp3 set issued by Nimbus is also still available and very reasonably priced, for those interested: Complete Symphonies - MP3 Edition).
- Haydn: The Complete Symphonies - Antal Dorati conducting the Philharmonia Hungarica. This was one of the very first (perhaps the first?) complete Haydn symphony cycles when it was recorded in the '70's. It continues to be one of the favorites, and is probably due for a re-issue by Decca - a newer box was issued but is no longer in Decca's active catalog: Haydn: Complete Symphonies.
And of the many other individual releases, recordings such as those I listed above are all worth investigating.
An important note regarding pricing. One of the other reviewers remarks to the high price here, and I too have seen that for some reason this Hogwood box is priced quite high on Amazon in the U.S. However, as I write this, it is listed for about a quarter of that U.S. price if you simply take a minute and travel over to Amazon's UK site, which is where I purchased my copy. The pricing probably varies considerably on both sites as well as Amazon's other sister sites, so my advice is simply to check all of the alternatives -- third-party sellers here on Amazon, Amazon's sister sites in the UK and elsewhere, Presto, Berkshire, Arkiv and other classical musical sellers. If you can find this for an acceptable price, and a couple of bucks per disc is surely a reasonable price for these performances, then in my opinion it is well worth it.
(These recordings were also originally issued in smaller box sets, before being collected all together as presented here. Those individual boxes are probably still available here on Amazon, so that is another way to dip your toes into the Hogwood performances without going for the full collection. I haven't checked availability or pricing, but they will be easy to find - search for "Haydn symphonies Hogwood" and you should see them).
** this Haydn Symphony project by Christopher Hogwood was originally intended to include all of Haydn's symphonies, but it was discontinued before all of them had been recorded. It therefore lacks many of the important later symphonies. By the numbers, here is what this box includes, and omits:
- it includes symphonies 1 through 75, 94, 96, 100, 104, 107 and 108 (the latter two also referred to as Symphonies 'A' and 'B').
- it is missing:
---- 76 through 93 (82 through 87 are the 'Paris' symphonies)
---- 95, 97 to 99, 101 to 103 (therefore missing two-thirds of the 'London' symphonies, Nos. 93 through 104)
---- 105 (the sinfonia concertante)
Note that there is no symphony 106, only one part of that composition having survived and it is therefore not included in sets of Haydn's complete symphonies.
I hope that this editorial remark may be useful for all those that deserve a great place to Hogwood in their hearts and souls.