"Pinnock's recordings of Haydn's middle-period "Sturm und Drang" Symphonies (or "Storm and Stress," a term describing the turbulent, explosive impact of much of the music here) are real classics. It's great to have these late-1980's vintage performances in a neatly packaged box set -- 6 CDs in sturdy sleeves, packed in a nicely compact box.The music is some of my favorite Haydn, and for those who think of the composer as something of a kindly old grandfather will be knocked over by this set. The music was revolutionary for its time: restless, probing, highly passionate and endlessly experimental. In many ways, I prefer the high tensions and bold imagination of these works to Haydn's more popular "Paris" and "London" Symphonies of his more mature years.Pinnock and the New English Concert were one of the premier period ensembles of their time, and they do this incredible music proudly with alert, energetic performances. To top it off, the CD booklet compiles all of the excellent notes that were part of the original series.If you're familiar with Haydn only through his later symphonies, this set is guaranteed to give you a different perspective on "Papa" Haydn -- now as an ambitious young man struggling to create something new and radically different, using a prince's orchestra as his laboratory. Fascinating and compelling."
Lively and energetic Haydn - many "surprise" gems here
R. Lane | Tracy, CA USA | 03/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I find myself turning to this modest box of 6 CDs containing 19 mostly little-known Haydn symphonies far more often than to any other Haydn symphony recordings on my shelf.
The complete cycles I own are certainly great achievements that I would never want to be without. Dorati's magnificent complete cycle (see Amazon asin # B0000042DP) is a classic that has stood the test of time. Brilliant classics has ressurected the Adam Fischer cycle from the Nimbus bankruptcy (see Amazon asin # B00006GA50), though the price is now much higher than it was when Brilliant Classics originally released it in 2002. For some of the more famous symphonies, like the London Symphonies, there are many stellar paerformances, such as the Colin Davis/Concertgebouw recordings available on 2 Philips Duo offerings.
But none of the above, or other unspecified recordings, hold a candle to these Pinnock recordings when it comes to an all around enjoyable musical experience. The Minuets have a swaggering quality that is intoxicating. You'd think Haydn invented dance music. Who needs the Strauss family? The Allegros have vitality about them that brings you to the edge of your seat. And the slower movements have phenomenal penetrating depth and wide ranging dynamics one would never expect from Haydn.
And unlike some critics, I don't think there is anything "unfaithful" to the score about these readings. Pinnock doesn't resort to Stokowski-like modifications or liberalities to make the music come alive. What does come across is that all of the musicians appear to be having fun. And when musicians are having fun like this, you do too.
And for the bargain basement price, this a must have. Not a Haydn fan? Get this set and you will be. "
The absolute best set of the Sturm and Drang symphonies you
M. A. Scott | Kansas, USA | 08/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't buy this boxed set, but aquired these wonderful discs one by one. I love the whole set, but I bought the one with symphonies 35,38,39,59 first. It is my favorite of the six. That one is really one of those desert island discs. There is such a rhythmic drive and electricity in volume one that I hardly ever hear in classical music. If you're kind of feeling down, these symphonies by the English Concert, will definitely bring you out of the doldrums. Volumes 2-6 are equally as well played, but I personally enjoy Volume one better. Trevor Pinnock is superb as usual. He's definitely one of the greatest conductors of the baroque and classical periods. I would like to see him venture into the romantic period to see how good he would do with that style. The sound quality of this set is just superb. Everything sounds crystal clear in these recordings. If you don't like these performances, check your pulse because I think your dead."
Pinnock does it again
Obi | SLC, UT | 02/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have never heard better, more authentic performances of Haydn's middle symphonies. These symphonies are remarkable accomplishments by Haydn and show some of the dynamic energy that you see later in the works of Beethoven. Some of the music has it's quirks and you can detect some influence from C.P.E. Bach's sentimental style in these symphonies.
But mostly, Haydn creates his own particular symphonic style that he continually refines. Though some of these works show experimentation in structure, and in theme development, they are all interesting and fun to listen to.
Pinnock's crew does their usual job of performing accurately and sensitively. I highly recommend this box set."
My favourite set of symphonies
Steven Guy | Croydon, South Australia | 08/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is one of my "desert island discs". I have listened to it over and over again over the last four years and I am still finding new and exciting things in this music. Haydn's symphonies are very important to me and I feel very at home in this music. Why? I am not sure. This is musical music - music which celebrates music. I realise that this doesn't make much sense. Mozart's symphonies are always very clever and always full of Mozart's brilliance and superb sense of style and form. Haydn's symphonies aren't "obvious" - they require a little more effort for someone like me to appreciate, and this is their strength - once this music is appreciated, it stays that way!
Mr. Trevor Pinnock, directing The English Concert [on period instruments] from his harpsichord, provides us with a wide window into these works - 19 symphonies, over 6 CDs. The playing is very attractive and colourful. The wind and brass players are in fine form, particularly the horn players. The strings have that transparency and incisiveness which period violins, violas, 'cellos and basses and original styled bows bring to 18th century music.
I can imagine a different approach and interpretation of some of these works, but I cannot imagine anyone doing it better than Pinnock and his ensemble.
If you're a fan of the "Sturm und Drang" style, although much of this music is far from stressful or stormy!, you will probably enjoy comparing these symphonies with those of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.