This recording forms part of a series of 10 reissues celebrating the glorious Decca recordings from the 1950s-1970s of the Wiener Oktett (Vienna Octet), made up of key principals from the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Five titles were released in September and the remaining five are released this month.
This volume in the Wiener Oktett Decca Legacy includes two staple works in the ensemble’s repertoire: the Beethoven Septet (in its 1959 recording and the Schubert Octet (in its 1957 recording). Beethoven was rather miffed when he heard that, of all his works, his divertimento-like Septet was wildly successful in England. This anthology also includes two chamber music rarities by Beethoven – his Op. 29 String Quintet and the Sextet, Op. 81b, which, for its inclusion of the difficult parts for two horns (superbly negotiated by Wolfgang Tomböck and Volker Altmann) has made this recording a collector’s item much sought after by horn players. Both, the Quintet and the Sextet make their first international appearance on CD.
Septet in E flat major, Op. 20
String Quintet in C major, Op. 29
Sextet in E flat major, Op. 81b
Octet in F major, D. 803
Recording Producer: Erik Smith (Beethoven: Septet; Schubert: Octet); James Mallinson (Beethoven: Sextet; Quintet)
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry (Beethoven: Septet); Tryggvi Tryggvason (Beethoven: Sextet, Quintet); James Brown (Schubert: Octet)
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, March 1958 (Schubert: Octet), March 1959 (Beethoven: Septet), October 1969 (Beethoven: Sextet, Quintet)
‘highly civilised and agreeable … highly recommendable to listeners prepared to enjoy a view of the work which is leisurely both as to style – without any exaggeration of the quality – and as to finding time and space for a generous allowance of repeat-making” (Schubert) Gramophone
*** “The performance has elegance but also conveys a sparkle and a sense of enjoyment that are thoroughly exhilarating” (Schubert) Penguin Guide to CDs
‘their playing is richly eloquent [in the Beethoven String Quintet] … [the Beethoven Sextet] is impeccably played, unfailingly pleasing … the recordings which are firm and detailed, well-focused and lifelike’ Gramophone