Haydn: 8 Symphonies - Brüggen

Haydn: 8 Symphonies - Brüggen

Esoteric  ESSD-90202/4 (3 discs)

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Haydn: Symphonies 88, 92, 94, 96, 100, 101, 103, 104

Orchestra of the 18th Century
Frans Brüggen (conductor)

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PCM recording
Comments (4)

Comment by Contrapunctus - August 29, 2019 (1 of 4)

I'm sorry to say that after my experience this new set of these basically fine accounts doesn't offer a noticeable improvement in sound quality. After listening and comparing these recordings with the original redbook releases I'm quite disillusioned now. Comparing CD-layer and original redbookCD is almost impossible for me, because I can't hear any difference. If there are differences they are only very, very subtle.

Listening to the SACD-layer, the result is a bit (not more!) 'smoother' and more full-bodied, but there's definetely no additional space between instruments or even more transparancency. It's a bit like listening to the same recordings with another system or using an equalizer, not more.

I really wished, I could say anything more positive, not least because these discs are quite costly. At least the packaging is lovely!

(The same goes for other PCM-based ESOTERIC releases I've listened to: Bruckner 8/Karajan/VPO; Bruckner 9/Giulini/VPO; Saint-Saens&Bizet/Dutoit. Don't get me wrong: these are all very fine recordings, but the additional smoothines of the SACD is in my opinion not worth the extra money. Also important: ESOTERIC releases of analog recordings are a totally other story!)

Comment by Jonathan Jao - September 6, 2019 (2 of 4)

Thanks. This is a really helpful review. Given the insane prices charged by these companies, and the cost of importing from overseas, it's so important to get knowledgeable feedback from others. I greatly admire Bruggen's way with the Haydn symphonies. I've always felt he was in a league above Norrington, Gardiner, Hogwood and the other period instrument maestros of his time, so I was semi-tempted by this, but am definitely going to hold back now. (Similarly with Giulini's Bruckner 9, one of my favorite recordings, I was tempted but suspicious - how much better could Esoteric's SACD layer be?) I'm curious as to their recent focus on digital recordings; I see, for example, they're about to release Karajan's second recording of Rosenkavalier, a recording that, while not exactly underrated, is certainly better than its reputation would have it. That said, the recording always sounded pretty good for 80s Karajan era, both the CD and LP versions.

Comment by Ben Leggett - January 7, 2022 (3 of 4)

Running these through an analyzer, it's clear that these SACDs are definitely mastered from sources that are better than CD quality (e.g. > 44.1/16) - so they are, mathematically speaking, better than the CDs.

But the source the CDs and this set are mastered from is likely the same, so the difference between these and the (already excellent) CDs is going to be more theoretical than aural - both sound really good, and the extra range you get from the SACD is unlikely to be particularly audible.

So get whatever you can afford and be happy that either way you're listening to excellent masterings of great performances.

Comment by DYB - January 10, 2022 (4 of 4)

Very interesting. I never had the regular CD versions of this, so I can't compare. But I really do question Esoteric's repertoire choices. They really are doing a lot of issues of digital recordings (specifically from DG) and I don't understand it, especially since there are still so so many great analog recordings that have never been issued in HD audio. I suppose from a marketing perspective it probably works for them, but's frustrating.