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Showing 1-10 of 85 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 107 reviews
on May 5, 2013
...aka, The Return of Mogens Wöldike!

Of course, this set is a tremendous bargain, and on that level it is self-recommending. But this is not just a ridiculously cheap way to acquire 14 hours of rich and consistently delightful music by one of the wisest, wittiest, and most original composers of all time, Franz Joseph Haydn. It's also a collection of excellent perfomances by some of the most accomplished classical/baroque performers of the period between 1950 and 1970. Along with exceptional performances of Haydn Symphonies 59 and 75 led by David Blum, a substantial selection of work by the excellent Griller Quartet, and a totally unexpected performance of Haydn's piano sonata #49 by the redoubtable Sviatoslav Richter, I'm especially pleased to see the return to the catalog of many fine performances by the outstanding Danish conductor Mogens Wöldike. His London symphonies 99-104 are really good--and hold up well (based on spot checks) against some of the big names already in my rather extensive Haydn collection. Moreover, Wöldike's exceptional talents as a choral conductor are exhibited in a superb performance of Mass #10 (Missa in Tempore Belli) and an equally outstanding performance--beautifully sung, beautifully paced-- of "The Creation."

For a sample of his artistry just listen, for example, to Wöldike's performance of Missa in Tempore Belli's 3rd movement, "Gloria: Adagio." It begins with an usually expressive cello solo, followed by a beautifully sung solo by the great Viennese base Walter Berry, which intertwines with the cello line. The full chorus then enters quietly and blends raptly with the bass solo and cello, after which Haydn and Wöldike turn up the voltage as Berry, the cellist, and the chorus bat the lead around enthusiastically in a wonderful playful closing to what had been a highly mystical musical moment. This is great stuff--and pure Haydn. With the return of Wöldike's "St. Matthew Passion" in Bach Guild's recently issued Bigger Bach Set, among other great performances in that compliation, we have plenty to be thankful for.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 13, 2017
My great luck in finding large, outstanding compilations of classical music at bargain prices continued earlier this week when I acquired The Bach Guild's “Big Haydn Box” from Amazon.com for only 99 cents. This is the fourth of The Bach Guild’s “Big Box” albums that I have added to my digital music collection, and I think I made another inspired choice.

“Big Haydn Box” (not to be confused with the Big Haydn Symphonies Box, which I have already reviewed), features over 14 hours of Franz Joseph Haydn’s wonderful music. It is an extraordinarily impressive array from a variety of sub-genres within Haydn’s oeuvre. Haydn is known to have composed over 500 works across a large spectrum of sub-genres during his lifetime. By my count, 40 of his vocal and instrumental works appear in their entirety in “Big Haydn Box.” They include divertimenti, symphonies, string quartets, piano sonatas, overtures, fantasies, concertos for a variety of solo instruments, masses, and an oratorio. Each clearly shows the depth and breadth of Haydn’s incredibly inventive musical genius.

These recordings from the mid-20th century feature various lesser-known but world-class orchestras, conductors, chamber ensembles, choirs, and solo instrumentalists and vocalists who hail mostly from eastern Europe. All of them demonstrate the highest degree of artistry and musicianship in each of their performances. They do a wonderful job of conveying the full emotional power and drama that Haydn infused into his music. I have now listened to well over half of this album and I think the audio quality of these mostly older stereophonic recordings is clean, crisp, and well-balanced.

Of the four “Big Box” albums I have acquired thus far, I rank “Big Haydn Box” right alongside Big Mozart Box as one of the best in my digital music library. I listen to it frequently, and I am always both highly entertained and inspired by it. Most highly recommended.
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on December 7, 2014
5 stars aren't nearly enough. Multiply it by at least ten. I hereby nominate this "Big Haydn Box" to the Guinness Book of World Records as the No. 1 bargain ever in the history of classical music recordings. My goodness!!! There are many recordings here that were legendary in their own day on LP records (e.g. anything by Woldike), and others very highly regarded (such as those by Blum, Janigro and the Griller Quartet). All were on various labels of Vanguard back in LP days. Not really a loser in the bunch -- and this is quite a big bunch. The whole download for $.99!!!!! Get yourself a stack of blank Music-CDRs, arrange recordings in the 75-80 minute range, and you will have as fine a collection of Haydn music CDs to be found anywhere. (You can get notes on the music, if desired, from various places on the Internet).

Addendum: Since the above, I note several "Big" box sets of Vanguard treasures, which I had been naively unaware of. As an oldster who recalls so many of the recordings from LP days, they are certainly filled with wonderful music making, and for anyone on an especially tight budget, it's an inexpensive gold mine (for everyone else, too).
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on August 26, 2014
I just ran across these Big Box deals recently, and have purchased most. I've found sound quality to be very good to excellent, with performances mostly at a high level. I am no expert, but I have owned a modest library of classical over the years, so I have a lot of listening experience. I've always wanted my collection to be more complete, but classical is just one genre of music I love so the expenditures get spread around. It was thrilling to buy these sets, and I've been listening almost non-stop and still have much to discover.

This Haydn disc is great, and while one reviewer criticized it mildly for having too many chorale selections, I must say that they aren't my favorite, either. However, I have found that there are a few that I liked at first listen. I'd never have heard them at all if it were not for the great price and the preponderance of non-vocal music. The Haydn strikes me as being right up there with the Bach set(s) in quality and selection. I love Amazon and the various labels involved who make these glorious and ridiculously affordable offerings available. Bravo!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 18, 2013
I sound silly repeating this over and over again for these Amazon "Big Box Sets," but this set of Haydn music is simply a steal. For one dollar, you get some 130 tracks, about 14 hours, of Haydn music, including samplings from symphonies, string quartets, piano sonatas, and on and on. Many of these are significantly older recordings, but from that you should not read "poor." Many of these tracks were performed by some of the world's greatest performers, including people like Alfred Brendel. The audio quality, too, is surprisingly good considering the price. We would not expect these to be at the pinnacle of sound quality as pieces are recorded today on sophisticated digital lossless technology, but the majority of these are surprisingly high quality, even with the mono tracks that are a part of this set.

It's just not possible to surpass this on a price-to-piece ratio, and even the most seasoned Haydn aficionado is sure to find some real gems in here. And, if you are new to classical, or just want to explore Papa Haydn a bit at nearly zero cost, this is the way to do it. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, TEN stars out of five.
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on May 5, 2013
I've treasured Woldike's London symphonies and Mass in Time of War for nearly half a century and was eagerly awaiting them in mp3 form. However, the Creation tops everything -- beautifully "right" tempi and solos that surpass all expectation.

Blum and Janigro's symphonies are a pleasure to reencounter as well, and the Griller quartets hold up, too. The usual problem with cuts being truncated (and the final split-second showing up on the next cut), but I can overlook this given the sheer glory of the music.
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on August 17, 2015
I won't pretend that I've listened to all of this massive collection. Like many prospective purchasers, I bought the set to supplement my LPs of Woldike's Haydn performances that I acquired in my undergraduate days. I somehow never got around to purchasing the Vanguard CDs of the symphonies and "The Creation" when they were in print so the MP3s were a no-brainer, particularly at the give away price. How do they do it? Have the artists (or their estates) waived royalties?

How do the digital files compare to to my cherished LPs? Quite well, thank you. Despite loving care, cleaning, careful calibration of cartridge tracking weights, and audiophile inner sleeves the Sterolab pressings show the effects of 40 years of playback. Room tone and ambiance often goes by the wayside in digitized files along with what, for want of a better term, is characterized as "warmth." Again, not so in this case. Strings actually sound like bowed strings rather than what LP fanatics characterize as "grains of rice dropped on tissue paper." I'm playing them through an external 24 bit/192khz DAC in an "audiophile" system that bypasses the usual mediocre sonics of computer audio to get the best out of them. They do not disappoint.

I look forward to further explorations in the weeks to come.
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on December 9, 2016
To amass such a sizeable collection of any classical composer's works would indubitably be prohibitively expensive for all but the intensely devoted, or the proverbial 1%. At the offered price, this collection truly is AMAZING. Do not be concerned that the renderings by the orchestras here are only on par with your local high school band, as you'll be hard pressed to discern any difference in these professional performances from those of even the most renowned orchestras. I believe your pleasure from listening to this collection will be as great as your pleasure at having acquired it for so little. A safer bet doesn't likely exist.
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on March 25, 2015
I have a few grips (see below) however I cannot bring myself to give this any less than 5 stars due to the bargain that it is. It's such a tragedy that more people aren't as familiar with Haydn as they are with Mozart. Haydn was such a wonderful man both personally and professionally. The amount of music he put out almost seemed supernatural, and most of it was later in life! Even relative to today's life expectancy he was pretty old when he wrote some of his best works!

OK, here are my gripes (and I hope Bach Guild will take them under consideration):

1. Track 6 - Symphony No. 75 in D Major, (Hob. I/75): iii. is cut off at the beginning...a few counts are missing.
2. The Haydn Symphonies referred to in Bach Guild's description is not available anymore. I want to buy them. Take my money, Bach Guild!!!
3. Please provide FLAC copies, not just MP3s. I am certainly not arguing that mp3s are not worth it, but I like to archive all my music with FLAC rather than MP3.
4. Haydn put out so much music, he needs at least 2 "big boxes!"
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on January 26, 2014
Here's a way to get two blocks of Haydn symphony recordings that were highly regarded in their time, for practically nothing: Antonio Janigro's 1963 set covering nos. 44-49 (known as the "Sturm & Drang" symphonies), available separately on Haydn: "Sturm & Drang" Symphonies Nos. 44-49, and Mogens Woldike's 1956 set of the "London" symphonies, otherwise available on Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 99 - 104 "London" Symphonies. Both groups of symphonies are wonderful. Woldike's "London" traversal is far more idiomatic than Eugen Jochum's DG recordings (Haydn: The 12 'London' Symphonies), a reference set for years that by itself costs 27 times more than the "Big Haydn Box." The Vienna State Opera Orchestra plays with plenty of refinement and the stereo sound, while early, is very good. Janigro's set of the "Sturm & Drang" symphonies is terrific too and the sound is first rate. Everything else in this 99 cent download is a bonus.

The Bach Guild has done listeners a great favor by reviving these wonderful recordings for a nominal amount.
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