Among the final albums made by the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt was a history in sound of Viennese dance, the waltzes and polkas that made contemporary millionaires of the Strauss dynasty and have since travelled the world not least thanks to the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert. The leader of those concerts for 25 years, Willi Boskovsky, had already made such a history back in 1967: ‘Dances of Old Vienna’.
The musicologist Alexander Weinmann made these arrangements for Boskovsky and his colleagues in the Vienna Philharmonic: a select band of eight musicians. Together they journey in high spirits from late Mozart through Schubert and the always under-appreciated Joseph Lanner to some little-known gems of Johann Strauss the Elder (the Exeter-Polka and Tivoli-Rutsch Walzer among them) and even a tip of the hat to his son’s Liebeslieder Walzer.
A second Decca album fills out a picture of early nineteenth-century Vienna: ‘Dances and Romances’ of Beethoven, in which Boskovsky takes the solo violin parts with his renowned ease and sweetness of tone. This generous anthology is completed by another impeccably stylish chamber ensemble LP from the 1960s, I Musici playing Schubert at his most good-natured, including the expansive Rondo D438, which was the nearest he came to writing a violin concerto.
‘Of the many Willi Boskovsky recordings devoted to the music of the Viennese waltz masters, this is particularly interesting… The performance is excellent, and the sound full and lively.’ Fanfare, July-August 1980 (Dances of Old Vienna)
Also available from Eloquence with Willi Boskovsky