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2-4, possibly 5 if the group isn't too chatty. More, and one have to be very disciplined to make it work in my experience. (Actually, have only played one one off where it worked)
With 4, it's very easy to balance encounters, and even with some out of game chatting, everyone gets to do their thing. Same thing with 3, as long as the partycomp is made to work in the campaign.
My current favorite however, is 2 players. With 2 characters each. A lot easier to organize gaming nights, and with 2 characters each it's not terrible if they make one character that's not optimized for fun in combat - at least the two groups I run there is more experimentation in what people play and how they play them than if they had just had one character. Not to mention, every player gets as much spotlight as the GM in a lot of cases, making people a lot more involved. The worst bit is of course solving practical problems ingame, as more people would often mean more diverse ideas and variation.