BACH: Six Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051 – Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra – Tacet Real Surround Sound audio-only Blu-ray (4.0) B 101, 94:39 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
This was reviewed by Ronald Legum both on SACD and DVD-Audio way back in 2005. He, a complete “Brandenburg junkie” as he says, liked it quite a bit—I might like them even better. These are stylish, energetic but not manic, and beautifully played and recorded (in 2000, actually). We reviewed a DVD-Audio version as well, though I did not hear that one.
Unfortunately, this is 4.0 surround, not 5.1. When I first heard it I thought my other speakers were out, so I double-checked and fixed the connections again—no luck. So I put on another recently recorded Blu-ray 5.1 audio, and sure enough the middle speaker came to life! Tacet offers only limited options in setup, and after listening to the disc several times, the 5.1 just ain’t there. [The “Real Surround Sound” refers to the surround channels not being just rear ambience, but carrying specific instruments so that the chamber orchestra really surrounds you…Ed.]
Aside from the misleading blurb about the sound however, I still find the 4.0 perfectly satisfying and excellently enveloping, and can’t imagine the 5.1 being much better, so for that alone and the spectacular performances I still give it five stars. But—if you have the SACD don’t run out for this one as you might be disappointed. But one way or another, get these marvelous readings. [This one is unusual in that the Blu-ray is actually cheaper than the SACD—usually it’s the other way around. It is because the 94-min. length allows a single disc (also on the DVD-A version) whereas the SACD version requires two. Also, we have consistently found the SACD version to sound slightly superior to the Blu-ray if they don’t sound identical…Ed.]