I am not sure what Dabringhaus und Grimm think
they are up to introducing yet another playback standard before
the dust has even remotely settled on the current audio format
"war" between SACD and DVD-A. This disc claims to be
playable in DVD-A, Dolby Digital, Stereo, plus something called
2+2+2 which is claimed to use the six discrete channels of DVD-A
to produce left, right, left-back, right-back, and a pair of "height"
channels. I refer interested parties to their website
where all this is extolled if not quite explained. From my point
of view (after I had worked out how to play it, which may be my
problem not their’s, but all other DVD-A discs I have use the
video display to allow sound format selection, here there is no
video) it all sounds very good indeed and gives a convincing aural
image in "normal" DVD-Audio surround. I apologise for
not having ceiling speakers and being unable to judge this aspect!
I wonder if D&G might care to comment on all this?
As for the music, these are attractive, if low
key, performances. The coupling of all Schumann’s concerted music
for piano is a sensible one and I wonder I’d not come across it
before. The key item is the famous concerto and it is a relief
to find it not coupled with the Grieg! My benchmark performance
for Schumann’s Op.54 is Dinu Lipatti. His performance is so fiery
that poor Christian Zacharias is left out in the cold with his
elegant but underpowered rendering. The Lausanne orchestra seems
pale too by comparison with the 1948 Philharmonia. However, one
cannot begin to compare the clarity of this excellent modern recording
with the noisy and recessed historic one from EMI. Excellent detailed
notes by Egon Voss and an intriguing consideration of the piece
by no less than Bruno Walter make up the musical documentation,
which is completed by several paragraphs trying to explain their
new sound standard. I think this is where we came in!