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Wiener Oktett

Wiener Oktett - The Decca Recordings (27CD Box Set)

The sweet, silvery tone of the Wiener Oktett and the easy give-and-go of its phrasing helped establish it as one of the most distinguished of Viennese chamber ensembles. Its sound was that of the sublime Vienna Philharmonic in microcosm and the group enjoyed the advantage of Decca’s top-of-the-range engineering. The most comprehensive collection of the Vienna Octet’s albums ever issued, this set chronicles 25 years of recording, from shellac (July 1948) to stereo (November 1972). LIMITED EDITION.

Decca signed an exclusive contract with the Wiener Oktett (Vienna Octet) in the summer of 1948 as a commercially motivated move: a sweetener to the deal that also poached the Philharmonic Orchestra from EMI. The ensemble had been formed only a year or so previously around the Boskovsky brothers, violinist Willi and clarinetist Alfred. Soon enough, audiences at home as well as in concert were enjoying the sound of a quintessentially Viennese ensemble, its members drawn from the ranks of the Philharmonic, in Classical-era music that could have been written for them, starting with the Septet by Beethoven and the Octet by Schubert.

The sweet, silvery tone of the Octet and the easy give-and-go of its phrasing established the Octet as the latest in a line of distinguished Viennese chamber ensembles, from the Rosé Quartet of Mahler’s era to the Barylli Quartet documented by the Westminster label. The Vienna Octet enjoyed the advantage of Decca’s top-of-the-range engineering, and they continued to set down classic interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert through the course of the 1950s, for the new LP format and then for stereo.

In 1956 their Decca albums began to reflect the diversity of their concert programmes, with the Octet written for them by the Belgian composer Marcel Poot. While they continued to enjoy free-spirited partnerships on record with the likes of Clifford Curzon and the Viennese pianist Walter Panhofer in Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet, they also recorded lesser-known Romantics such as Spohr, Kreutzer and Berwald, and modern repertoire by Britten, Hindemith and Egon Wellesz.

By the time of the Vienna Octet’s final recording in November 1972, only two members of its original lineup were left, including clarinettist Alfred Boskovsky, but critics and record buyers had continued to recognise that, especially in the central repertoire, an unselfconscious authenticity set the ensemble apart from its rivals.

CD 1 KREUTZERGrand Septet (rec. 1951) BEETHOVEN Septet (rec. 1951) CD 2 MENDELSSOHN Octet (rec. 1953) SCHUBERT Octet (rec. 1948) CD 3 MOZART Divertimento, K. 334 (rec. 1950) Divertimento, K. 247 (rec. 1952) CD 4 SCHUBERT Piano Quintet (rec. 1950) Walter Panhofer SPOHR Nonet (rec. 1952) CD 5 BRAHMS Clarinet Quintet (rec. 1953) MOZART Clarinet Quintet (rec. 1953) Alfred Boskovsky CD 6 SCHUBERT Octet (rec. 1954) CD 7 BEETHOVEN Septet (rec. 1954) DVOŘÁK String Quartet No. 10 Boskovsky Quartet CD 8 MOZART Divertimento, K. 287 (rec. 1955) Divertimento, K. 113 CD 9 MOZART Piano Quintet Clarinet Trio Walter Panhofer FIRST STEREO RELEASE ON CD CD 10 SPOHR Octet (rec. 1955) POOT Octet CD 11 SCHUBERT Octet (rec. 1958) CD 12 SCHUBERT Piano Quintet (rec. 1957) Sir Clifford Curzon BEETHOVEN Septet (rec. 1959) CD 13 BEETHOVEN Piano Quintet Walter Panhofer SPOHR Octet (rec. 1959) CD 14 MOZART Divertimento, K. 334 (rec. 1961) Divertimento, K. 136/125a CD 15 BRAHMS Clarinet Quintet (rec. 1961) BAERMANN Adagio Alfred Boskovsky CD 16 MOZART Divertimento, K. 287 (rec. 1962) M. HAYDN Divertimento in G major CD 17 MOZART Clarinet Quintet (rec. 1963) Alfred Boskovsky Divertimento, K. 247 (rec. 1963) CD 18 MOZART March, K. 290 & Divertimento, K. 205 Cassation, K. 99 CD 19 BRITTEN Sinfonietta HINDEMITH Octet CD 20 SPOHR Nonet (rec. 1966) Double Quartet CD 21 MENDELSSOHN Piano Sextet BORODIN Piano Quintet Walter Panhofer CD 22 KREUTZER Grand Septet (rec. 1968) BERWALD Grand Septet CD 23 DVOŘÁK String Quintet, Op. 77 SPOHR Piano Quintet Walter Panhofer CD 24 BEETHOVEN String Quintet Sextet CD 25 DVOŘÁK String Sextet, B. 80 String Quintet, B. 180 CD 26 BADINGS Octet WELLESZ Octet CD 27 MENDELSSOHN Octet (rec. 1972) RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Piano Quintet Walter Panhofer