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Haydn: Complete String Quartets [Box set]

Angeles String Quartet , Franz Joseph Haydn , Brian Dembow , Kathleen Lenski , Sarah Parkins , Steven Miller Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Price: $103.67 & FREE Shipping. Details
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MP3 Music, 280 Songs, 2001 $118.49  
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Product Details

  • Performer: Brian Dembow, Kathleen Lenski, Sarah Parkins, Steven Miller
  • Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Audio CD (May 22, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 21
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B0000501PC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,345 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

A massive set--67 string quartets on 21 discs in a budget-priced, shelf-friendly, compact box. So the obvious question is: do you need it? The equally obvious answer is a resounding "yes" if you love these endlessly inventive quartets and if you appreciate superbly played performances that capture both the letter and the spirit of Haydn's genius. The Angeles String Quartet isn't as well known as some ensembles that have recorded complete Haydn sets, but they are superior to all, with the arguable exception of the Tatrai Quartet. They demonstrate technical polish and rich, warm sound that's never cloying. And they give these works the forward-moving impetus they need within a classical framework, eschewing both anachronistic Romanticism and the mechanical astringency of period specialists.

The Angeles Quartet is unique in its mastery of early as well as late works, in tune with Haydn's stylistic development and sensitive to the attractions of each of these remarkable pieces. So they infuse the visionary slow movements of the late quartets with the appropriate depth and at the same time revel in the muscularity of the Opus 76 No.2's catchy Menuetto, the humor of the "Joke" Quartet, Opus 33 No.2, and the power of the Allegro con spirito of Opus 76 No.1. Most impressive is their way with the early quartets--no small matter when you consider that the contents of the first six discs precede the Opus 20 set generally considered as signaling the maturity of the form. The Angeles make even the earliest quartets, five-movement divertimentos for four strings, a habit-forming delight. Their playing here is full of exuberance, wittily playful and rough, peasantlike by turns. The sonics are outstanding, too, well-balanced, warm, and lifelike. An indispensable recording. --Dan Davis

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
126 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best to hear first before investing February 13, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Most reviews of this impressive set give a definate "thumbs up" for the performance. Penguin gives it 3/3 stars while ClassicsToday rated this work a perfect 10/10 for artistic quality/sound quality and Gramophone also rates it high (2/3 circles). Additionally, this quartet scored a Grammy Award in 2002 for "Best Chamber Performance." Many find these performances here to be among the best offered for complete sets.

However, there is some disagreement if the "ambience" of the recording sessions was ideal for the intimate dialog of chamber music. As compared to other recordings (Mosaiques, Kodaly, Takacs), the Philips recording here is best described as "spacious" and thus has a slight lack of immediecy. The effect is approximately akin to sitting in the 20th row of a medium-sized hall. Personally, I do not care for the sound-engineering here. It took slightly more effort to follow the separate instruments in these recordings than others. My guess is the engineers kept the settings from the first sessions to keep continuity through the cycle (versus the Naxos/Kodaly set which kept refining the settings). While no major reviewer (like Penquin) commented negatively on this aspect of sound quality, it baffles me why not. I agree with other reviewers here on Amazon who gave lower marks for sound. But it really is relative and what is important to you. For most people this probably will not be an issue and the outstanding performances will stand far and above any sound quality nuances. But regardless, before you spend $100-150 on such a set, it is wise to give it a "test drive" first on your sound system. Check your library like I did.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Entire Universe in One Little Box September 26, 2001
Format:Audio CD
This set is really quite exceptional. All of the works which have been verified to have both been composed by Haydn and which were originally written as string quartets are contained in this set. As an earlier review notes, the performances are from the Döblinger as edition edited by H.C. Robbins Landon for the complete Haydn edition, and in some cases the articulations and notes can be quite different from most of the "standard" available editions. If you're following along in the bound volumes of Dover scores (reissues of the Eulenburg editions) you'll find a lot of discrepancies. All of this minutia aside, the playing of the Angles Quartet is really quite good, and they do a good job of adapting their sound to the differing eras of the quartets. I think that many people will spend much of their listening in the sets prior to Op. 33, as these are much less familiar territory for the serious collector, concertgoer, and even quartet player. Op. 9 are particularly interesting, and the Op. 1 have many charms to offer. I whole-heartedly recommend this set for the countless hours of discovery that it will engender, and for the sheer excellence of the performances.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A recording of the decade! July 5, 2001
Format:Audio CD
An incredible recording.
In this day of more string quartets performing better than ever, the Angeles String Quartet stands out as a goose-bump-producing superior group. Their technique is, as you would expect, top-drawer. What really shines is their musicianship and interpretations of these works.
The standing joke of playing Haydn quartets is "No one should perform the Haydn string quartets. They are too easy for beginners and too difficult for professionals." Boy, have they created a wonderful collection! Their interpretations are beautiful, without being sappy (for example, no cheapshot glissandos); expressive yet simple. And they adapt their sounds across the range of quartets. (Listen to the slow movements of the Op1#1 and Op77#2 -- wow!)
For you string players who use the Peters editions, be prepared for surprises. Dynamics and articulations are often different, particularly in the earlier quartets, and the "licks" are just different. For example, in last movement of Op17#5 (I think) the Peters edition has an 8 bar first fiddle phrase. Ms Lenski plays a very different 6 bar phrase.
This is a buy of the decade. Don't pass it up. Even you old grizzled string players who meet once a week to play quartets will be dazzled by these recordings.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best June 20, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Here's another complete set of Haydn's string quartets. One could say, the Angeles Quartet at its best. The recording is consistently fresh and clear, the playing energizing. Naturally, a set like this is only for serious lovers and collectors of classical music, but the set is truly worth the money. Those who love Haydn's music or just string quartets should not hesitate. The set is a pure pleasure from the very first CD to the very last (of course, it's going to take you a few days to listen to all the CDs).
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing achievement! October 19, 2004
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A beautiful recording of all the Haydn quartets, executed with sparkle and style. Acoustically, the engineering emphasizes a grand, spacious sound that was obviously too "echo-y" for some reviewers, but is neverthless full, resonant and beautiful to listen to. The recording aesthetic is similar to the Takacs recordings of Haydn.

This is, of course, a modern instrument interpretation, similar to what you'd find in the Endellion, Takacs, or Emerson recordings. The group avoids ostentatiously inappropriate inserts of period styling that groups like Hagen can occasionally fall victim to. Within the modern instrument paradigm, the styling is unquestionably classical, with an elegantly American sense of beauty when the players tactfully warm phrases, achieving intensity and depth without ever succumbing to romantic excess. In most cases, the players are able to keep their egos from subverting interpretation, avoiding the epidemic of tastelessly fast tempi plaguing other quartets itching for applause.

Without doubt, the most impressive achievement in this recording is simply the staggering quantity of music played. The most common failing of professional quartets is to burn out and slip into a sort of autopilot, "gig" mode when condemned to play less challenging works. Somehow the Angeles quartet avoids this fate and never loses their enthusiasm, maintaining a refreshing sense of wit, charm, and emotional sincerity even in the most lightweight of the early quartets while still providing excellent insight into the intellectual weight of later works. This is a truly a remarkable achievement!

Some Op 2 quartets are omitted since they are seen as reductions of other works rather than original quartets.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this complete?
Great performances but how is this complete if it only goes to Opus 64? At least I'm following the information given on here. I wonder what the best version is? Read more
Published 5 months ago by Alex M. Frankel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - and available in a newer lower-priced box set
This collection of Joseph Haydn's complete String Quartets, on 21 CD's and performed by the Angeles String Quartet, was originally released in 2000. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Phil in Magnolia
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best Haydn Quartet set yet produced
I must urge potential listeners to steer away from the negative comments about the sound on these recordings. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Audio Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Performances
I have all of the complete Haydn String Quartets. In some ways, I believe that the Auryn Quartet recordings are among the finest. Read more
Published 19 months ago by L. Topper
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound balance
Aside from the quality of the playing (which is excellent - having heard the Lindsays, Kodaly, ABQ, Mosaiques, Orlando and Amadeus,to name just a few), and despite what some others... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Musicophile
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid, and splendid sound
I am puzzled by a few of the reviews here. The recorded sound is excellent, as one expects in a modern digital recording. The playing is excellent too. Read more
Published on January 23, 2012 by Ken Braithwaite
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't get past the bad sound to hear the music
I was tempted to buy this set when it first came out, but opted to selectively buy as many Kodaly Quartet recordings on Naxos as I could afford. A very good decision. Read more
Published on October 27, 2011 by Michael Capizzi
1.0 out of 5 stars Get the Naxos Set Instead
I'm not an expert on Haydn quartets. I just wanted a complete set. Numerous reviewers praised the Angeles set highly (both the performances and sound). So I bought it. Read more
Published on September 10, 2009 by Music Fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Last Word on the Haydn Quartets
In this Haydn year (2009--the 200th anniversary of the composer's death), it is salutary to acknowledge that only Johann Sebastian Bach's output surpasses Haydn's in the proportion... Read more
Published on September 3, 2009 by Johannes Climacus
5.0 out of 5 stars What a bargain! All Haydn's String Quartets in One Box!
This is simply an outstanding deal! All of Haydn's String Quartets for under one hundred dollars (I am still shaking my head in disbelief). The playing is superb. Read more
Published on March 12, 2008 by John Keating
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