Best recording I have ever heard....
"The best recording I have ever heard is from a small German audiophile label called TACET. It is a DVD-audio featuring the Camerata Freden chamber Orchestra playing Beethoven Octet for winds op 103, and the Septet op. 20. (TACET DVD D115) What is so special about this recording is the multi-channel technique. Each speaker seems dedicated to one or a group of instrument. Far from being a gimmick this makes the recording sounds like you are IN the ensemble and each instrument sounds exactly as it should. This is a far-cry from many multi-channel recordings which are mainly stereo, with a little bit of echo in the surround speakers.
Another advantage of this technique is that each instrument sounds "acoustically" correct. For example the oboe has a rich and dense sound. The clarinet has its characteristic "projection" that is so hard to record. And of course the horns sounds huge. Strings have similar characteristics where the viola is very easy to distinguish from violins due to a larger soundstage (without being louder). You can feel the cellist sitting on his chair playing is beautiful instrument.
Finally the sense of separation of instrument means that all time each instrument is clearly audible. So for example although the horns may be playing loud at the end of the 4th movement of the octet, and producing a huge nice sound coming from the rear speakers, the oboe (left front) and clarinet (right front) clearly are still perfectly audible as would be the case in a concert hall. Although the musicians of the Camerata Freden are not of the caliber of the Berlin Philarmonic, their ensemble quality compensate some small weaknesses. The octet is full of youthful vigor (this was an early piece for Beethoven), the Septet is the obvious star of this recording. Each movement tempo is perfect and the ensemble cohesiveness is breath-taking. This recording is hard to find, but it is worth a little bit of searching.
TACET should publish a recording of the Schubert Octet by the same ensemble in early 2005, I can′t wait..."
Jean-Marc Serre

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