New Vienna Octet - Decca Recordings

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The Decca Recordings

New Vienna Octet

Limited edition 18CD set

Postcards from Vienna: drawn largely from the supreme players of the Wiener Philharmoniker, collected here are the Decca recordings of Viennese chamber music ensembles, including the New Vienna Octet, Vienna Wind Soloists, Wiener Waldhornverein and Vienna Flute Trio, many making their first international appearance on CD.



Led byclarinettist Alfred Boskovsky, the first line-up of the Vienna Octet made its last recording for Decca in 1972, but Boskovsky was behind the revival of the group's name, having already chosen the young members of the Vienna Philharmonic who would carry on the work of the ensemble and its traditions of superbly mellifluous, silver-tonedplaying. Boskovsky's successor in the clarinet chair of the new Octet was Peter Schmidl, who contributes unique recollections to the booklet essay (by Peter Quantrill).

Like their predecessors, the members of the Octet enjoyed an exclusive contract with Decca, and they began recording in 1977 with the same two classics of the Classical repertoire which defined their sound and their musical approach, the Octet by Schubert and the Septet by Beethoven - the set affords the fascinating opportunity to compare these interpretations with their digital-era remakes from 1990. At the same time, Schmidl and his colleagues in the VPO wind section established a wind ensemble along similar lines - the Wiener Blaserensemble (Vienna Wind Soloists) - and their debut was much more adventurous, featuring works by Hindemith, Janacek and Ligeti which nevertheless glowed in the reflection of the distinctively transparent Vienna wind sound.

The Wind Soloists went to DG in 1977 for a single recording, of the Wind Quintet by Schoenberg which Schmidl looks back on as a highlight of his career, but otherwise both ensembles found their natural home in the music of Mozart, making recordings of the Clarinet Trio and Quintet (Schmidl the soloist) and the three great wind serenades which have scarcely been rivalled on disc for instinctively flexible phrasing and sheer beauty of sound. The group's final sessions in 1992 included a pair of Beethoven rarities, the early Octet and Sextet, setting the seal on an often-underrated group of recordings which fully stand comparison with the more famous Vienna Octet recordings from the 50s and 60s.

Including archival illustrations and photographs, these newly remastered recordings include a classic 1980 account of Mozart's 'Gran Partita' reissued for the first time in more than 30 years, and coupled with the Adagio, K.411 (previously only issued in Japan); the first CD release of the 1976-77 recording of the Schubert Octet with the New Vienna Octet, and including several items either new to CD or receiving their first international CD release.

"Try [Schoenberg's Wind Quintet] in a performance by the Vienna Wind Soloists so warm and clear and scrupulous that what may once have passed as complexity becomes variety, and density richness.' Gramophone, December 1977

"If the performance is somewhat less gemutlich than the earlier ones by the Vienna Octet, it is superbly poised and polished, and the recording is sensationally well balanced." Stereo Review, July 1978 (Schubert: Octet - 1976-77 recording)

"The three works are given superlative performances by the Vienna Wind Soloists, who are treated to a recording of comparable quality." Gramophone, December 1978 (Cambini, Danzi, Reicha)

"I have little but praise for the ensemble, balance, careful dynamics and musicality of this group of Vienna Philharmonic players." Gramophone, March 1980 (Francaix, Taffanel)

"The New Vienna Octet on Decca are out-and-out winners, colouring every subsidiary thread yet never leaving you in any doubt as to where your ear really ought to be … the Viennese team do somehow remind you that they come from Schubert-land." Gramophone, September 1980 (Schubert: Octet)

"A gloriously warm-hearted and sparking account … straight to the top of the list." Penguin Guide, 1996 (Schubert: Octet - 1991 recording)

Eloquence 18CD Set