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The five individual SACD releases that together comprise this remarkable and unique set of the Beethoven Symphonies on the TACET label have appeared gradually over a period of ten years. Each has garnered much well deserved praise both for the consistent quality of the performances from the accomplished Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot, as they are now called, and their fine conductor Wojciech Rajski. It is, however, the addition of TACET 'Real Surround Sound' that gives them an edge over the countless Beethoven Symphony recordings already available on disc, as with a careful surround sound set-up one can experience each of these nine masterpieces in a manner denied to recordings made with microphones placed as for a standard concert hall set-up.

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The whole cycle has now been re-issued by TACET on three Blu-ray discs that, thanks to the extra capacity available from the technology, means three symphonies (in chronological order) can be accommodated comfortably on each disc. Pressing the red button on the Blu-ray player selects 5.1 TACET Real Surround Sound (24bit / 96kHz) which is the default option, while pressing the yellow button selects 2.0 Stereo (24bit /96kHz). It is worth noting that it is not necessary to connect the player to a screen as the usual functions Play, Pause etc. work as for a CD player.

The three discs are supplied in a standard double width CD box that also includes a sixty seven page booklet that provides extensive notes on the music, diagrams of the orchestral lay-out used for each symphony and a helpful guide to setting up one's surround speakers. In answer to queries as to whether there is any difference between the sound of TACET's SACDs and Blu-ray discs Andreas Spreer, with refreshing honesty, writes “The answer is clear: no. Both the stereo and multi-channel versions are identical. On the SACD the signal is always saved with the DSD method, on Blu-ray PCM 24/96. Theoretically there could be a discernible difference, however I can't hear any and I've never heard of any colleagues that can.”

I concur with these findings, though those blessed with 'golden ears' may disagree. What is in no doubt is that TACET's pioneering recording process combined with Wojciech Rajski's refreshing performances add a further dimension to one's appreciation and enjoyment of these nine Beethoven masterpieces.

Copyright © 2016 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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