Trondheim Solistene – Souvenir = TCHAIKOVSKY: Souvenir de Florence; Serenade for Strings in C; CARL NIELSEN: At the Bier of a Young Artist; Suite for String Orchestra – 2L audio-only Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1 192/24; DTS-HD MA 7.1 96/24; PCM 2.0 192/24; Auro-3D 9.1 96/24 [tracks 1-5 only]) 2L-90-PABD [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
This is the next recording project of 2L with the exceptional Trondheim Solistene; we reviewed an earlier one here. We also reviewed the audiophile vinyl version of some of this music not long ago.
This audio-only Blu-ray (2L dubs it “Pure Audio Blu-ray”) contains the two different programs on the two LPs  which have been combined within the 50MB capacity of the Blu-ray. Not only that, but there is room to offer both 5.1 and 7.1 DTS-HD tracks at 192K and 96K respectively, plus an uncompressed PCM stereo track, plus five tracks using the new Auro 9.1 3D codec. (I’m trying to learn more about this development launched by a Belgian firm. Its white paper online says the 2+2+2 system didn’t achieve enough 3D audio realism, and Aurophonie 9.1 uses some of the bits between 16-bits and 24 to create four completely compatible coded height channels—front and rear—which can be realized by a special decoder. I would like to know how to get the special decoder—which is never mentioned—and some of the encoded recordings.) There are additionally MP3 and FLAC audio files of the music using the mShuttle system.
The note booklet with the album opens with a lengthy and fascinating essay by Erik Fosnes Hansen titled “Auditory Bliss.” There are also diagrams of the layout of the various string players, which differ for all four works. In any case, they are arrayed around the microphones so that the musicians surround you in playback. The artwork of the ear on the albums is the artist’s combined superimposed images of the actual ears of both Tchaikovsky and Nielsen!
As we said in earlier reviews, this string orchestra is on a very high level, and even a chestnut such as the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings comes across as a fresh and exciting work. It is most advantageous to have all the music on both vinyl albums on one disc, and in the highest-res surround sound at that. I carefully compared the vinyl release of Part 1 in an A/B test with the new audio-only Blu-ray. For the first time, I found them absolutely identical in fidelity!  There has always seemed to be a slight edge in favor of the vinyl in such comparisons, but not this time. (I of course used the 2.0 PCM stereo option on the Blu-ray.)
—John Sunier