Feel the quality and the width.
I wonder whether it would be apt to call the prolific Haydn the Telemann1 of the late 18th century. Haydn was another hugely productive composer with 108 symphonies, 83 string quartets, 41 trios for piano, and the same number of piano sonatas. If anything, there’s a bit too much of him.
I bought the entire string quartets (Hob. III) by the Buchberger Quartet because the 23-CD set was a bargain, but I’m inclined to recommend the London Haydn Quartet’s offerings on Hyperion as a sufficient collection unless you’re determined to have the lot. (Although I like the Buchberger Quartet’s album, I prefer the more Baroque sound of the London Haydn Quartet.)
The same goes for the symphonies (Hob. I). I think the Paris (Hob. I:82-87) and London (Hob. I:93-104) symphonies are a sufficient sample of Haydn’s work in that genre to mostly leave the rest alone.
My interest in Haydn is recent because there has been little in the way of new Baroque music to buy, and I was looking for something different; although at the end of the day, I still prefer the latter. As pleasant as his music is, the absence of b.c. in his chamber works makes his music feel like it has a missing tooth. The music teacher at school suggested that it might be the complexities of the baroque style that maintains my interest in that period.
- I would assume that Haydn knew Telemann’s music, but suspect he would’ve regarded it as dated. I don’t know whether Telemann was aware of Haydn, although he would’ve lived long enough to have possibly heard some of the younger composer’s early works.