SACD's Overture Page 4

Meanwhile, the dmp label demonstrates that, sometimes, less can be more. No mainstream repertory, no orchestra, no soloists were harmed in the making of the two dmp surround SACDs I auditioned. They, too, have an optional "overhead channel" - but dmp has created recordings that sound towering even in normal surround playback. Sacred Feast (Performance , Recording ), heavenly choral works by Tallis, Bruckner, and Messiaen, among others, has all the "height" you could ask for in a church setting. Not only does the music seem to float in a high space, but it also has depth, warmth, and brilliance. The Gaudeamus choir and its director, Paul Halley, give us a thoughtfully chosen, beautifully executed program.

Very different musically, and almost as satisfying sonically, is Far More Drums by the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble (Performance , Recording ). In a collection that includes percussion works influenced by music from Haiti, Ghana, Hawaii, Bali, and Japan as well as new pieces by American composers Christopher Rouse and Russell Peck, dmp again demonstrates just how effective a surround SACD can be when engineering expertise is matched to musical daring. Finally, from Delos, comes a disc that is daring in its own way. For its first multichannel SACD, the label has chosen relatively unfamiliar works by two 20th-century Russian composers: Shostakovich, represented by his Chamber Symphony, and Schnittke, heard in his Concerto for Piano and Strings. Both are performed by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra with Constantine Orbelian as pianist and conductor (Performance , Recording ). These are challenging works "dedicated to victims of war and terror," and they are given thoughtful, very persuasive performances. The concert-hall ambience seems just right, with surround sound that is satisfying without drawing undue attention to itself. If the piano's lower tones seem a bit muddy, its center-speaker placement is nonetheless excellent.

-Robert Ripps