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Haydn: Complete String Quartets Box set


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Audio CD, Box set, May 22, 2001
$103.63
$87.39 $56.99

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,163 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

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

Customer Reviews

Haydn's string quartets contain some of his finest music.
L. Johan
Without doubt, the most impressive achievement in this recording is simply the staggering quantity of music played.
Sight Reader
Many find these performances here to be among the best offered for complete sets.
Alan Lekan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Alan Lekan on 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 By C. Noble on 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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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By R. Gillim on 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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Climacus on September 3, 2009
Format: Audio CD
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 of quality to quantity. Indeed, the Haydn quartets, even more than the symphonies (marvelous though they are), are probably the only body of work in the history of music that can compete with the Bach cantatas for the sheer number of masterpieces within a given genre.

If you are a Haydn aficionado, or a budding enthusiast for chamber music, you must get to know these works. Their sublime craftsmanship is fully matched by their astonishing depth and breadth of feeling, from exultant joy and exuberant wit to prayerful rapture and brooding melancholy.

The question is, however, which among the several complete cycles has the greatest claims up on the collector's attention--and finances. I have been listening to recordings of the Haydn Quartets for well over thirty years--ever since I studied them in depth for a research project in an undergraduate music history course. Among the ensembles I have heard in these works are the Pro Arte (classic recordings from the 1930's), the Budapest (equally classic in op. 76), the Aeolian, the Amadeus, the Tokyo (incomparable in Op. 50, and superb in op. 76 as well), and, more recently, the Takacs, the Lindsays, the Kodaly (whose complete cycle I acquired piecemeal), the Mosaïques (the best of the period-instrument versions), and the Angeles (whose complete cycle represented a bargain I simply couldn't resist, even though i already owned the Kodaly versions).

I took about six months to work my way, in leisurely and systematic fashion, through this bargain box.
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