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.
In addition to recording standard chamber music repertoire, the Vienna Octet refreshingly explored the byways of chamber music, and this collection brings together five rarities of chamber music. The recordings were originally released in the early 1970s and the Rimsky-Korsakov Piano Quintet was recorded in the very last sessions of the Octet. Both, the Borodin and Mendelssohn are early works by the composers, but were published posthumously – the Borodin, published in 1938, shows influences of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Mendelssohn’s Sextet for piano and strings was written in the spring of 1824 when the composer was in his mid-teens and published twenty years after his death.
Conradin Kreutzer is not to be confused with his more famous namesake, Rodolphe Kreutzer (French violinist and composer, dedicatee of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata). Conradin was a German composer writing several works for stage as well as a substantial corpus of chamber music. His magnificent Grand Septet is based on the instrumentation of Beethoven’s Septet and was first recorded by the Vienna Octet in 1951. 17 years later they revisited it and it was issued on LP coupled with the Berwald Septet included here.
Sextet in D major, Op. 110
Grand Septet in E flat major, Op. 62
Grand Septet in B flat major
Piano Quintet in C minor
Piano Quintet in B flat major
Walter Panhofer, piano
Recording Producers: Hugh Vickers (Kreutzer, Berwald); Erik Smith (Mendelssohn, Borodin); James Mallinson (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry (Mendelssohn, Borodin, Kreutzer, Berwald); Gordon Parry, Tryggvi Tryggvason (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Recording Locations: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, September 1968 (Mendelssohn, Borodin), October 1968 (Kreutzer, Berwald), November 1972 (Rimsky-Korsakov)
‘neat and elegant’ (Mendelssohn) Gramophone
‘the performance is highly skilled’ (Borodin) Gramophone
‘full of grace and charm and has all the polish and virtuosity one has come to expect from this ensemble’ (Kreutzer) Gramophone
‘delicacy and lightness of touch … performances are first-class … The recording is quite superlative. Strongly recommended’ (Berwald, Kreutzer) Gramophone
‘sheer joie de vivre … an enlivening, engaging and original chamber-music disc if ever there was one’ (Rimsky-Korsakov) Gramophone