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Classical CD Choice: CD of the Month, September 2013

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This is an absolutely entrancing issue from TACET and will surely be essential listening for anyone who already has, or is considering investing in a multi-channel sound system. TACET’s approach to recording music in what they describe as ‘Real Surround Sound’ is to take advantage of the whole acoustic space available, and to enhance the listener’s musical experience by utilising the possibilities of current multi-channel technology (in this case 5.1) to the full. No attempt is made to re-create the illusion of sitting in a concert hall; instead the listener is placed at the centre of the performance. Andreas Spreer explains his recording philosophy in some detail in the booklet notes and though purists might frown at his ideas, I can truthfully say that I found the results entirely convincing. The majority of TACET’s earlier releases are of chamber music or music from the classical or baroque eras, but with this latest issue we move into the 20th century with a programme of orchestral works from that consummate master of orchestration Maurice Ravel, and the results are stunning. Carlo Rizzi, perhaps more well known in the UK for his fine conducting of opera, elicits sensitive playing from the excellent Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in each of the works on this SACD. His fleet and insouciant account of ‘La Valse’, full of Gallic elegance and wit, is especially gratifying and typical of his fastidious yet fresh approach to this familiar music. The fragile delicacy of works such as the suite from ‘Ma mère L’Oye’ benefit from Rizzi’s subtly nuanced approach, and here, as throughout the disc, the recorded sound has a lovely openness and clarity. Ravel’s evocation of bird song in ‘Petit Poucet’ emerges strikingly with extra vividness in surround as does the terrifying double bassoon that represents the beast in ‘Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête’. Only in ‘Tzigane’ did I feel that the soloist was rather too close to the microphone, but when this fearsome piece with its double-stopping, crystalline harmonics and coruscating arpeggios is delivered with such panache by the versatile Gordan Nikolic one has little cause for complaint. The comprehensive booklet notes that accompany the SACD illustrate the different instrumental layouts for each of the five works, so success in realisation of Andreas Spreer’s visual representations will be determined by one’s own system and domestic surroundings. Careful adjustment of levels and speaker positioning will be rewarded with some of the most marvellous sound I have heard from a multi-channel SACD. Were this just a normal stereo SACD I would happily recommend it both for its musical worth and fine sound quality, but in ‘Real Surround Sound’ it is unmissable.

Graham Williams

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