Mozart's Serenade in B flat KV 361 "Gran Partita" is the composer's grandest and most richly scored of his wind serenades and has justifiably become one of his most popular works – thanks in no small part to ist use in Milos Forman's 1984 film 'Amadeus' – as the countless recordings available on CD testify. However, this marvellous new Blu-ray audio version on the TACET label allows the listener to experience this masterpiece in audiophile quality sound (24Bit/96kHz) in both stereo and TACET's own signature 5.1 'Real Surround Sound' – a recording technique that uniquely places the listener at the centre of the performance in a way not possible in the concert hall.
The Stuttgart Winds are all members of the versatile Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, a body who have worked over the years with a variety of conductors, but most notably with Sir Roger Norrington, their music director from 1998 - 2011. Norrington's influence in bringing historical performance practice to modern instruments is also acknowledged by these musicians, and is evident in the dance-like quality of the playing combined with crisp articulation and elegant phrasing.
The booklet notes accompanying this release include perceptive remarks by some of the players of the Stuttgart Winds regarding the scoring of the serenade and noting that it is not easy for the oboe always to penetrate the dense middle texture provided by the clarinets, basset horns and four horns.
This is not a problem for those listening to the multi-channel mix as the diagram of the player's seating makes clear - oboes and clarinets respectively front left and right, basset horns side left, bassoons side right and the double bass and four horns behind the listener.
Another performance advantage of sitting in a circular arrangement is that the players can look directly at each other and, thanks to eye contact, interact in a way not possible when, as in normal concert arrangement, some are sitting behind others. The unanimity of purpose and achievement of subtle nuances in the beguiling playing are self evident in this performance. I know of no more involving or rewarding account of this work amongst those I have heard over many years and recommend it unreservedly.
The other piece on this disc is an arrangement for wind octet by the Stuttgart Wind's principal clarinet Dirk Altman of Mozart's 'Fantasia in F minor KV 608'.This work, one of Mozart's final compositions, was written originally for a mechanical clock organ but has come down to us in many arrangements/combinations including those for piano (2 and 4 hands), chamber orchestra and, of course, organ. Altmans's wind version (that also seems to include a part for the double bass) is most effective in allowing the composer's fugal writing and contrapuntal subtleties to be fully appreciated.
The disc is sensibly packaged in a normal CD jewel case, but clearly marked as a Blu-ray audio. The listener can switch between 2-channel stereo or 5.1 surround (default) at the touch of a button (yellow or red ) on the player's remote control and the use of a TV screen is entirely optional.
Sit back and enjoy a revelatory listening experience – one not to be missed!Copyright © 2013 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net