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Rameau, Jean-Philippe: Suites from Dardanus and Le Temple de la Gloire.

Rameau, Jean-Philippe: Suites from Dardanus and Le Temple de la Gloire. Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Recorded in 2001, at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Center for the Arts. Engineer: Doug Doctor. 67+ minutes. CBC 5229.

As the flyer that came with the recording states, "French Baroque opera was a grand theatrical spectacle with music, drama, ballet, and scenic effects all playing equally important roles. The scores include a wealth of instrumental music, in the form of ouvertures, dramatic symphonies, atmospheric preludes, and innumerable dances." What we have here are instrumental excerpts from two of Rameau's operas, and the result, as performed by this most excellent ensemble, is almost symphonic in texture.

The sound is rich and full, with an excellent left-right spread and realistic imaging. The string sound is exceptionally clear, and reflects the kind of detail and transparency we find with period-instrument presentations. However, the full orchestral blend is considerably richer than what we typically have with such ensembles, and the result has a surprisingly modern sense of texture, space, and color.

When I engaged the smaller hall simulations possible with the Yamaha DSP-A1 processor/ amp in my middle system the sound took on a peerless quality that easily would match anything I have heard on 5.1 multi-channel releases. (More on 5.1 channel audio up ahead.) The Dunlavy Cantatas worked to near perfection and the blend added by the four wide-dispersing Allison surround speakers was easily superior to straight stereo. (Two of these are refurbished Model Fours and two are Radio Shack mini units that have Allison tweeters and crossovers.) In my main system's somewhat larger listening room, the Dolby Pro Logic II and Classical/Opera processing available from the RX-Z1 receiver (reviewed by me in issue 93), plus my regular package of Allison speakers (two IC-20s, a custom center with Allison drivers, four Model Fours and two AV-1 minispeakers), was possibly a tad better. At least when listening from anywhere but the sweet spot. This is a superior-sounding recording that demands the best playback-system package possible.
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Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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