This is another in the series of multichannel recordings Aix made in Romania in 2001. They were made with 24-track digital recorders, and in this case with a dozen stereo pairs of mics. The 96/24 signals were later mixed and edited for this disc, which does have quite as many additional features as most of the Aix releases but still seeks to provide four different recorded versions of the same works. The Dolby Digital option is an “audience” mix – as though the listener was sitting in a typical audience situation in the hall – while the DTS option is a “stage” mix which puts the listener right up in front of the performers on the stage. The hi-res PCM stereo mix will please the two-channel diehards with its super-clean and transparent fidelity – a cut above the Dolby and DTS codecs. (Unlike SACDs, most DVD-As do not provide a specially-made stereo mix – they just depend on an automatic mixdown of the 5.1 tracks, done in the circuitry of the player.)
I’m not reporting on the DVD-Audio MLP option because my Integra 10.5 universal player refused to select the DVD-A output in the disc’s Audio Setup screen. It defaulted to the stereo PCM tracks every time, so I selected the DTS stage mix and listened to the entire disc in that format. This might be just an isolated incompatibility with this particular player. Aix crams more different options on their discs than any other label, but this is the first time I have run into any navigation problem with one of them. Actually none of the recordings made in Romania include the video record of the studio session which is part of all the other discs recorded in the U.S. It would have been nice to see just one movement performed in a video version. It would also have been useful to have just a few paragraphs about the music in the note booklet. The three trios each consist of three movements and all three players have equal involvement in the music, just as with an all-string trio. The playing is excellent and the feeling of the acoustic of the hall in Bucharest, Romania is very natural and realistic.
– John Sunier