Since most competitions have a preliminary round with recordings, or festivals need them for applications, or schools in different countries for that matter, a good recording is very important!
But you don’t need necessary a lot of equipment or spend a lot of money on them.
After having tried several different recorders, I can definitely recommend the zoom Q4n. It works in almost all concert halls, as well as in smaller rooms. The visual is very important of course, so try to pick a nice looking room. Acoustics you can kind of control with this device and it picks up very well dynamic changes and co. All in all it is a very good device.
Also, before you record, try to prepare yourself as if you are going to perform for an audience, and try to picture one in front of you, to get the atmosphere. When you book a room, try to have enough time for soundcheck and build up. And don’t forget to take breaks in between recordings so you don’t exhaust yourself. At least that are things I have to remind myself to do every single time. And to take it the way as any other performance.
So here is a link to the recorder: