Haydn Symphonies

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Tyson

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Haydn Symphonies
« on: 15 May 2020, 08:56 pm »
OK, here’s another example of a great hifi system opening up stuff that was closed off in the past.  This week I started a project to listen to all 104 symphonies of Haydn, and on a lark I picked the set recorded by Antal Dorati back in the 60’s and 70’s. 

I’ve got several sets of the Haydn symphonies and always dismissed the Dorati set because the strings sounded thin and wiry and the overall recording was somewhat problematic.  It didn’t help that his approach sounded hopelessly outdated compared to more modern recordings.

Anyway, I started playing it really by chance, because on Monday I was in a rush with work and I just wanted some Haydn in the background so I picked the first thing on the list which was the Dorati.

And now I’ve been listening to it the whole damn week.

Here’s what I notice with my upstairs setup - the strings no longer sound strident, they sound like they have a beautiful sheen.  The recording no longer seems thin or problematic.

Net result?  These performances don’t sound hopelessly outdated, they sound classy and noble in the best way possible.  Loving it.  And right now I’m up to Symphony #60, so more than halfway done!

LesterSleepsIn

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Re: Haydn Symphonies
« Reply #1 on: 16 May 2020, 04:45 pm »
What an enjoyable project!

I have the Dorati Haydn set on vinyl (Philharmonia Hungarica. A London ffrr Full Frequency Range Recording 1970, Stereo Treasury Series.) And I agree with your earlier assessment about the strings being thin and the
recording problematic. It certainly isn’t my  ‘go to’ deep listening set but is more for background music as I putter around the house. Still, any Haydn is better than no Haydn.

I much prefer the Dorati Opera cycle on Philips.

Cheers and stay safe,
Lester

Tyson

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Re: Haydn Symphonies
« Reply #2 on: 16 May 2020, 07:57 pm »
Thanks Lester.  Yes it's been a lot of fun and quite illuminating.  This type of experience is exactly why I built 2 systems.  The downstairs system is my hyper-clear ultra resolving and mostly neutral type of sound where I do my "sit down and listen seriously".  On the other hand, the upstairs system is created to be optimal for less than perfect recording and used more as background listening. 

I suspect if I put the Dorati recording on the downstairs system I'd enjoy them a lot less than I'm digging them on the upstairs system.  I find that happens a lot actually.  All my old Pollini, Ashkenazy, Brendel, Fournier, Szell recordings sound really good on the upstairs system, while all my DSD recordings sound their best on the downstairs system. 

It's really gratifying because for so long I tried to optimize a single system for both types of recordings and I was really frustrating because a step towards optimizing the average recordings was a step away from optimizing the amazing recordings.  It was only when I split things up and created 2 systems that I was able to fully optimize each one for each type of recording. 

LesterSleepsIn

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Re: Haydn Symphonies
« Reply #3 on: 16 May 2020, 10:14 pm »
Hi Tyson,
I know exactly what you’re saying. I found that I needed a second system to complement the deep listening system. Actually, there’s a third system but who’s counting (other than the missus!).
Cheers snd have a nice safe weekend.
Lester

Mike-48

Re: Haydn Symphonies
« Reply #4 on: 31 May 2020, 12:38 am »
Tyson - I have most (not all) of the Dorati/Philharmonia Hungarica set on CD.

When I listened to Sym 27 on my more resolving system (with Janszen electrostatics), it sounded a little thin but not harsh. Fortunately, I have a DSP preset with about -1.5 dB tilt from ~1800 Hz to 20 kHz. Selecting that did make the recording more fun to hear. So, I agree with all who said: Nice performances, but not the best recording.

Two systems also at my house: My #1 system (downstairs) is more resolving: many recordings sound superb, and a good number sound pretty lousy. Sometimes DSP can give a work-around, sometimes not.  The #2 system (with Harbeth P3ESRs + sub) is certainly more forgiving and great for less focused listening -- though I could imagine setting up the Harbeths better if (when?) we downsize, and getting a more purist result.

I agree also with all who noted that it's nice to have two systems. In my view, the change of perspective tends to refresh the ears.