BEETHOVEN: String Quartets, Vol. 2 of 4 – Op. 59 Nos. 1 – 3; Quartet in E Flat Major Op. 74 – Auryn Quartet – Tacet DVD-A & DVD-V

by | Nov 18, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: String Quartets, Vol. 2 of 4 – Op. 59 Nos. 1 – 3;
Quartet in E Flat Major Op. 74 – Auryn Quartet – Tacet DVD-A &
DVD-V, 2 complete versions = Real Surround Sound & Moving Real
Surround Sound – DVD D125, 283 minutes, ****:

The highly individual Beethoven Quartet series from Tacet continues
with Volume 2 on a single DVD-Audio disc.  All four of the
quartets – running 30 to 40 minutes each – are on the single disc in
two different versions. The first employs Tacet’s unique Real Surround
Sound, which means one of the string players is situated at each of the
four channels around you (the center channel is not used).  The
layout is first and second violins are at the front left and right
speakers, the viola is at the left surround and the cello at the right
surround. The quartet surrounds the listener, and once you get used to
that orientation you will find you are much more involved in the music
– especially the interweaving parts given each of the instruments
around you. (There is no video display – the disc is quite full with
the two versions plus the 5.1 PCM audio bitstream for those without
DVD-Audio capability.)

I compared some of the quartets by the Auryn (perhaps not known by many
music lovers but they’ve been active for 22 years) with the same
Beethoven quartets featuring my favorite quartet – the Fine Arts on
several Everest/Omega CD sets. The standard CD sonics are superb on
this remastered set and I didn’t notice a huge clarification in the
Tacet DVD-As but there was certainly a much clearer presentation of the
various string voices, and a deeper and richer solo sound coming from
each one – separated from its neighbors. Performing style was similar
but the wide separation of the dVD-A gave the impression of more
precise playing and phrasing from the Auryn Quartet.

I have raved before about the second option here – all four quartets in
a concept allowing for movement of the players around you – what Tacet
dubs Moving Real Surround Sound. Well, I have to admit this time this
option seemed a bit over the top to me. One movement is seen by the
producer as a musical journey, so he mixes the four players in such a
way that they seem to be slowly rotating around the listener as they
play. But other movements have an instrument suddenly coming loudly
from the center channel speaker for no apparent reason. At least one is
able to go back to the first series of tracks in which there is the
extreme separation but no movement.

Have a look at my previous review of Volume 1 for more information on this unusual series of recordings: It was Op. 18 Nos. 1-6:

– John Sunier

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