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As an ex-clarinet player I do not consider myself very knowledgeable in terms of string quartet music. Of course this is a TACET recording so I was expecting the utmost sound quality. Of course it sounds absolutely fantastic! I was also surprised by the musical qualities of the Auryn quartet and their impressive interpretation of the 4 Beethoven’s quartets on this recording. The best thing I can say about this recording is that it made me lives with this music for several weeks and I do feel a much stronger connection with it now.
This DVD-Audio contains the 3 quartet’s op 59 and the opus 74. This is a total of two hours of music. In fact the full program is there two times. The first time in “real surround sound” where the players are spread one per speaker. The first violin at the front left, second violin front right, alto in the left surround and finally the cello at the right surround. Track 1 to 16 are in that format.
Track from 17 to 32 are in “moving real surround sound”, in that version the sound perspective can change. For example the musicians are not always at the same place. Also the perceived distance between musician and listener can change. For example in a slower section the musician may seem further away to create a feeling of distance and loneliness. In faster passage the musicians may be closer and we can feel the bows moving at full speed. The best explanations I can give is to compare M. Spreer our sound take virtuoso to a photograph that will take pictures at several angle to make the viewer perceive better the beauty of his subject.
Let’s take an example to illustrate the differences between the two versions and we will use the first minute and a half of the last movement of the Eb Minor Quartet Op 59 #2 at track 8 and then 24. This section is a long violin solo supported by the 3 other instruments with some interventions of the second violin. On track 8 the first violin is a little bit acid and a bit lacking body for my own taste. But the balance between the instruments is perfect and it is very easy to follow the 4 musical lines.
On track 24 the sound perspective is markedly different; the first violin is center and has more presence and body. At about 1 minute it plays a slower theme and it seems to move away in space. This change of the soundscape outlines the change in the music itself. Generally I prefer the presentation of the second version where I can feel better presence of the 4 instruments, but the “normal” version is perfect for an analytic listening. While I was writing this review I was often coming back to it to make sure of the details. I am glad for the DVD-Audio technology and its lossless MLP compression which allows such a huge music program on a single disc and in two sumptuous versions. I think the 2 perspectives create a formidable tool to better appreciate the music and the fabulous Auryn quartet.
Generally 4 speakers are used and the center channel is silent, but in some slower passage in the “moving real surround sound” version the center channel is used. The overall presentation is a lot more complex that just saying the cellist is playing from the right surround. The cello is predominantly in that speaker but resonates through the whole listening space to have a really solid feel, and a sense of size, so a bit of the cello is in all speakers.
As a multi-channel recording nut, I try to purchase recordings from many labels (pentatone, arts music, telarc, atma, linn, etc.) but I think only TACET has such a high level of excellence in their sound take, each multi-channel release is a celebration of music. (...) Jean-Marc Serre
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