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(...) I will repeat that I think multi-channel music is definitively under-represented these days, and I try to compensate in my own small way.
So I start with this choir recording, all the music is a capella (which means voices only, no instrumental accompaniment). The sound take is glorious but of course this is exactly what anybody buying a TACET multichannel recording should expect. There is a strong sense that we are in a church (not a cathedral but a large space). The recording was made at the Michaeliskirche of Bautzen constructed in 1429. This impression of space is also vivid between the singers themselves. For example one soloist may be in front relatively close, and other supporting voices are behind and also further away (e.g. feeling like they are about 30 feet behind).
The virtuoso tonmeister Andreas Spreer has the (very interesting) habit of applying a non-conventional sonic distribution to its recordings to try to enhance the musical message. Here the booklet contains a series of drawings that explains the presentation which is different in nearly each of the 22 pieces present on this SACD. So for example on one track two equal half of the chorus answer each other one on the left side, one on the right side to create an antiphonal effect probably (I hope) desired by the composer. In other track one or several soloists are put in evidence.
Generally 4 channels are used (e.g. 4.0) except for track 1,7,9,15 which are in 5.0. For these the soloist is in the center channel except for track 9 where it is the opposite and the soloist is far in the back.
For this kind of recordings it is a bit useless to talk about dynamics and balance of the frequency spread. But I can talk about the beauty of the sound. From the beginning to the end of this SACD the chorus sound is superb, the voices are rich and we hear clearly the different musical lines. But like other TACET recordings the spatial dispersion does not mean that the cohesion of the ensemble is lost. When the singers unite in magnificent chords I had shivers down my spine for such magnificent and glorious music. The technical marvel of this recording makes us really enjoy the superb work of the chorus. Musical Content The text is in latin and translated in German (e.g. no English, or in my case no French either :-)). The booklet gives useful information about Guillaume Bouzignac born around 1587 and died around 1643. He was forgotten for nearly 300 years before some of his manuscripts were re-discovered in a Library in Tours. He lived in the center of France all his life and was not really related to court music centered in Paris. But because of this, his own style was reflecting his local culture and an occitan touch (although by this time France was already pretty centralized). The motets presented here are from different periods in Bouzignac's life (from 1610 to 1643).
As I explained before the booklet is also fun for its multiple diagrams that explains the positioning of the different voices in each track. Also all members of the choirs are listed, and which are soloist on the various tracks (I always appreciate to see the musician names and not only the conductor). The vocal ensemble is made of 8 sopranos, 7 altos, 7 tenors and 8 bass. This music is a nice remedy after a stressful day at the office.
Before annotating some of the 22 tracks on this album, I have to underline the technical excellence of the choir. There is a fabulous sense of precision from the choir, in particular on the long notes were the pitch is stable and true (no wabbling, large vibratos or fuziness on the attacks). In fact on long chords there is an effect of voices re-enforcing each other and it sometimes sound like the choir is a single large instrument ( a bit like an organ) resonating in a beautiful old church. Jean-Marc Serre
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