The Virtual Haydn


The Virtual Haydn has the complete works for solo piano by Haydn. Tom Beghin plays it all in a 4-disc box set using 7 historical keyboard instruments played in 9 virtual historic rooms. One HDVD is devoted to a documentary about the project, a concert with 5 Haydn selections, and an interactive feature that lets you hear how the 7 different instruments would sound in each of the 9 rooms (total of 63 examples). In addition, there are 3 Blu-ray audio disks with all of Haydn's keyboard works. Except for a couple of short archive scenes, the video is in high-definition. (There is no DVD version of this.) Released in 2009, discs have 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade A+

Who would be qualified to review this astonishing box set? It comes to us from a group of fanatical early music experts teamed up with world-class scientists at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology at McGill University in Montreal.  If you are interested in historic keyboard music or the cutting edge of music recording and marketing, this title rates an "A+" for you.  For the rest of us more mundane souls, this set is still a bargain. It will open your eyes and ears to deeper understanding of the history of Western music. Thanks to the clever programs put together by Tom Beghin, you can get a solid introduction to keyboard Haydn without getting overwhelmed. Or if you have the sitzfleisch for it, you can listen to everything  in only 2 nine-hour days.

A number of YouTube videos were spawned by Beghin's project. But this was early in the days of YT, the quality of the videos is poor, and it's hard to figure out exactly which clips, if any, directly relate to this box set.