Good question (meaning that there may not be a good answer).
The best shadow differentiation I've ever seen is with Varycon PE paper, which has an inordinately long shoulder and an amazing max density. But getting good results with this paper in nearly impossible...
My first choise would be Oriental Seagull FB VC, developed in - nearly anything, but very high dilution. I find that high dilution helps to increase subtle differences while controlling total contrast. Not quite lith printing (although that is one extreme), but closely related.
I'm increasingly of the opinion that any (good) paper can do anything with the right developer, although some (with developer in the emulsion) are more diffficult than others.
Thanks, guys, I've mostly stuck with Ilford and Oriental and have no experience with Bergger or Forte yet. I guess the first step is to explore different dilutions/developers with the papers I'm familiar with and then branch out.
David / Don, I've got my ei down pretty good, but I shoot a lot in low light and sometimes end up with problem negatives.
I note that The Darkroom Cookbook mentions silver intesification of the negative having a noticable effect on low values, and wonder whether that would push them further up the curve. Does anyone have experience with it?