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This Tacet recording could be considered the poster child for audiophiles. It is available in virtually every conceivable format, including CD, SACD, and Blu-ray audio in both stereo and surround sound. Boléro and La valse are also available on an LP (entitled oreloB) that plays backward on the turntable from inside to outside! Before you start laughing, there is actually a good sonic reason for this seemingly odd backward record. Both Boléro and La valse (like many other sound spectaculars) begin very softly and end loudly. Therefore the full orchestral climaxes at the end are harder to track by a stylus without inner groove distortion. This effect is mitigated when the loud, densely scored finales are on the outside of the record. The end result is stunning in this case.

This Blu-ray audio disc has what Tacet calls “Real Surround Sound” and stereo. By real, they apparently mean that the orchestra surrounds the listener rather than being positioned normally on the stage. The emphasis is clearly on surround, as the program notes present diagrams of the orchestra totally surrounding the microphone (listener) position. In other words, it is meant to be an immersive as opposed to realistic listening experience. The stereo version presents a normal concert hall setup. The surround sound is certainly not like anything you will hear in the concert hall, and purists will undoubtedly scoff. If you prefer, you can hear the excellent-sounding conventional stereo version.

The performances are certainly good enough to be eminently listenable, especially with sound like this, but there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about them. La valse is exciting, even specatacular, but there are none of the sinister and sensual aspects that are so important to this music. Similarly, the fragments from Ma mère l’oye lack the striking color and lushness of Ravel’s amazing orchestration. After hearing the gorgeous finale, my response was ho-hum! Carlo Rizzi’s tempo in Boléro is quite slow, and the sound certainly gives the impression of a powerful juggernaut.

This Blu-ray audio disc will probably be an audiophile’s delight with the middle of the road performances enhanced by sensational sound, especially in the stereo version. On a technical note, the disc is easy to play without requiring a TV monitor to access the program. All you have to do is press the red button on the remote for surround and the yellow button for stereo. All other functions work normally as usual.

Arthur Lintgen
© 2014 Fanfare

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