Wiener Oktett - Wiener Oktett: The Decca Recordings (Box) [Limited Edition] | RECORD STORE DAY
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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, it's 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 it's 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 programs, 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 it's original lineup were left, including clarinetist Alfred Boskovsky, but critics and record buyers had continued to recognize that, especially in the central repertoire, an unselfconscious authenticity set the ensemble apart from it's rivals.