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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a wonderful collection and is not only invaluable for its completeness but also for the unique window into the performing style of the considerable Boskovsky era. The whole set of six discs covering 86 pieces of music used to be available separately and that is how I owned them and also played them spread across many months each year. However, I have recently bought the box set hoping that the discs will have been re-mastered even though there is no mention of that on the discs or within the sparse paperwork.

Firstly, I can report that by carefully comparing the older discs with the ones in this box set, there is evidence of remastering with greater depth, more realism and more impact to the sound.

Secondly, by listening through all six discs in quick succession to check that they were faultless, and they were, it became very striking how very different Boskovsky's concept of the music and its performance was compared to any of the New Year's Day broadcasts that we hear today. I can say this with some certainty having collected all the DVD/Blu-ray discs of those concerts each year as they have been produced.

Essentially what Boskovsky delivered in the 1960's and 1970's were discs of dance music. What we hear today are concert performances of the same music but therefore crucially different in feel. Boskovsky's performances are in much stricter time with tighter control of internal rhythm. Most pieces are also played slightly faster, more incisively and with far less indulgence of incidental phrasing. Instrumental detail is also brought out more tellingly. In short, we are reminded forcibly that Strauss originally wrote this music for 'live' dancing and for dancing that was both lively and vibrant. Modern performances, sophisticated and enjoyable though they may be, have lost this to a very large extent by being performed in concert halls.

To echo the sentiments of one other reviewer, by buying this set there becomes no further need to purchase others. I would modify that assessment as follows: The DVD / Blu-ray presentations of the New Year's Day concerts are a viable additional purchase option as they simply deliver a very enjoyable but essentially different product as explained above. There are two outstandingly fine single disc selections available to supplement the Boskovsky set - one by the Boston pops under Fiedler in the RCA Living Stereo collection and the other being Immerseel's selection played on period instruments and with a strong awareness of the need for the music to 'dance.'

I would therefore suggest that, for most purposes, this six disc set by Boskovsky provides both the first and the last word on a comprehensive collection of Strauss played as proper dance music as originally intended. This set also seems to offer fine re-mastered sound. The sleeve notes are minimal and do not begin to match those of the original single discs but that is a small price to pay bearing in mind all the other advantages of owning this set.


My earlier review for disc 5 in this series says everything else I would wish to say about the whole set and is copied immediately below for further reference:

This selection on disc 5, recorded from 1961-76, is typical of each of the 6 separately issued discs incorporating Boskovsky's comprehensive coverage of the Strauss family Viennese repertoire. There is a selection of mostly waltzes and polkas presented plus a lone march and these are all played with panache by the VPO under Boskovsky's benign leadership / direction. The width of the recording dates is well hidden in so far as one is more aware of the evenness of the presentation rather than of any imperfections in the sound.

What one is most aware of is the unique hold that Boskovsky consistently demonstrates over the style of the repertoire. In this he is fully supported by his colleagues in the VPO who succeed in preserving an approach to stylistically playing this music that is gradually becoming a bit more distant with each passing year. Performances may be immaculately well prepared and played as each year goes by but the musical tradition as illustrated by Boskovsky and his VPO partners is an invaluable historical document and one that we should always be grateful to Decca for who captured the sound and the atmosphere so very well. Above all, one is struck by the sheer happiness and the brio of the performances recalling the smiles of pleasure from Boskovsky and the orchestra and as seen on the early New Year's Day television broadcasts.

This disc should remain available as a necessary reference point for all those interested in the music of the Strauss family and the Viennese tradition. This disc is to be warmly welcomed therefore along with its companions which, it must be added, are even more usefully available now as a complete boxed set.
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on 12 June 2003
A long series of Strauss music recordings conducted by Willi Boskovsky provides the contents of this slender, super-compact box of 6 CDs. Those who collected the original issues should check the contents before jettisoning them, because not everything has been reissued here. I especially regret that the vocal version of "An der schönen blauen Donau" has been omitted.
No combination has ever excelled Willi Boskovsky and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in performing this repertoire. Although the waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, marches and overtures were performed over and over again by these musicians, there is never a hint of workaday routine or staleness to be heard here. Everything seems to unfold naturally. Each item's inherent character is displayed. Tiny nuances and felicities of phrasing and a balance that favors the melody and reduces the accompaniment make these performances inimitable. The performance of "Morgenblätter" seems to provide a tad more excitement and impact than the other 85 items.
The recordings were made between 1960 and 1976. They are studio recordings, not deriving from the famous New Year concerts, and all but the few items from the very earliest year provide excellent sound.
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on 4 December 2008
We have all seen those ads with "The Only Opera CD you will ever need" or "The Only Classical CD you will ever need" haven't we?
Well, I thought that the "Only ever need" expression was trite and hackneyed.
Until I played though this recording.
It really IS the ONLY Strauss (family) music set you will ever need (or want).
Not only does it contain music(obviously) by Johann Strauss Elder and Younger,but also by Johann the Youngers brothers Josef and Eduard;equally as fine musicians as their brother and father if (sadly) lesser known.
Add to this probably the greatest orchestra in the world,The Vienna Philharmonic;conducted by the inimitable and matchless Willi Boskovsky.
What more could you ask?
Just put a disc on and float away,or if you are like me,start to sway.
Given the price that it is,can you afford NOT to buy it?
No I thought not.
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on 9 July 2016
The music is good, but the information held on the disc is a mess. These days CD players and MP3 players give information for Album, Artist, Genre, Year but you cannot rely on much information on this set of discs. The following table tells you what is right and what is wrong for each disc.

disc 1 album (wrong) artist (wrong) genre (correct) year (wrong) track information (correct)
disc 2 album (wrong) artist (wrong) genre (correct) year (wrong) track information (correct)
disc 3 album (wrong) artist (wrong) genre (wrong) year (wrong) track information (correct)
disc 4 album (wrong) artist (wrong) genre (correct) year (correct) track information (wrong)
disc 5 album (wrong) artist (wrong) genre (correct) year (correct) track information (wrong)
disc 6 album (wrong) artist (wrong) genre (correct) year (correct) track information (wrong)

the reason I have researched this information is because the free download from Amazon didn't contain all of the music so I thought I could rip them onto the computer instead. Unfortunately I didn't notice the incorrect track information until I reached disc 6, the other detail I corrected as I went along.

If you are not worried about this information then go ahead and enjoy the music.
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on 31 October 2011
As others have said, the combination of conductor and orchestra is second to none for Strauss.
It's not just about names and brands. The VPO have inherited this music, and the conductor has played these pieces so many times that they are not just his interpretations, but the interpretations shown time and again to have elicited the best response from a live audience - this is pop music after all.

The second reason to recommend this set is a bit calculated: If like me you knew 20 odd pieces of Strauss family music, you would find yourself with perhaps 10+ different discs covering what you wanted if bought singly - many of them with the 'favourites' repeated endlessly (10 x Radetsky, 10 x Blue Danube, 10 X Titsch Tatsch, 10 x Jokey etc), and each only including maybe 3 differing pieces to those which would be found on a 'best of/favourite/essential' mix.
I avoided this pointless repetition with this disc set - it is just the right size. It covers the 'favourites' as well as the 'next division' (read: as good, lesser played) which is where many of my personal favourites lie.

I would never get through a 'complete works' particularly when the pieces are so short; I would be constantly jumping up and down to get to the CD player to put on the next piece I wanted to hear - remember there is no real progression within each compilation album.

In summation, whilst Straussss are not my favourite composers, this set of CDs is perhaps the best (most logical/ pleasing/ CORRECT) musical buy I have yet made - I'll never be tempted to supplement it with different interpretations - if I did it would be at my (and my shelf's) peril!
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on 9 April 2015
I agree with most other reviewers re the quality of the performances and the general coverage of this collection. One thing disappoints me, however: Boskovsky recorded several of these works more than once for Decca, and although some detective work may yield some answers, it's a real battle working out the dates of the recordings of each work: the only reference to dates are a list of recording publication dates (not recording dates) on the reverse of the jewel case. There is no match of dates to performances.
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on 4 February 2017
OK, the earliest recordings occasionally sound a little thin and over-processed, hence the 4 stars, but the majority of the recordings are good to excellent. I especially like the Josef Strauss items, which I had on a tape years ago. All are beautifully and excitingly played. In a way I wish they hadn't jumbled up the items in recordings from different periods as I could, if I had wished, not bothered with the earlier ones; but even the earliest recordings are acceptable, so overall a good buy. Boskovsky is unique and I agree that it is in many ways better than the series of New Year's Day recordings (except Karajan) which, after all, include works by other composers.
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on 26 November 2015
Wonderful! really wonderful! This is a superb box set, the joy and the beauty of these compositions comes through loud and clear with much expertise from the orchestras and of course Boskovsky, the man knows the music of the family Strauss inside and out.
If you need to be reminded that the world isn't an ugly place all the time then play these CDs and you'll soon feel much better.
I highly recommend this set without reservation.
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on 19 August 2013
Now that since more than twenty years we have had the New Year concert with nearly as many different conductors , what is so striking in these recordings is their naturalness and grace : the Wiener are of course to the manner born in the Strauss's music , something only very few of the following conductors have achieved ,
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on 10 February 2017
Superb recording with lashings of pieces. I like their way of playing which is somewhat 'crisper' than that of the Andre Rieu orchestra. This is excellent value for money and is highly recommended. It is nice to see all of the Strauss brothers represented and interesting to see the contrasting styles,
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