Author Topic: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit  (Read 47937 times)

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Offline Brian

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Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« on: March 30, 2013, 02:59:12 PM »


Gaspard de la Nuit
Maurice Ravel

Welcome to GMG's newest blind comparison game! Since April is Impressionism month, and since almost all of our blind comparisons so far have focused on the symphony orchestra, we turn to the piano masterwork Gaspard de la Nuit by Maurice Ravel.

The comparison will feature twenty recordings - a fraction of those available, but I've attempted to choose carefully. There are studio and live, stereo and mono recordings by pianists old and young, male and female, famous and not-so-much. Note that although there are twenty competitors, there may not necessarily be twenty pianists!

THE RULES
1. Let me know here, by PM, in the Impressionism Month thread, or wherever I'll see it, that you wish to participate.
2. I will shortly be sending out the links to the first round. In the first round, we'll be listening to "Ondine." You'll get five recordings to try, although you are welcome to ask for more!
3. You'll come back here after listening to post your comments, comparisons, any thoughts, and also to rate each recording on a scale from 1-10. 10 is best. (PLEASE NOTE: This is different from previous games. Recordings will advance based on their average scores, not their rankings in group.)
4. The top ten will advance to the second round, where we'll listen to "Le gibet." Again, you'll audition five recordings, or more if you like, and post your opinions of each with a rating from 1-10.
5. The final round will pit our top choices against each other in "Scarbo."

NOTES
- Although quality of sound is of course a consideration, please don't weigh it too heavily; I'd be sad if all the oldest recordings lost solely because of their age.
- For audiophiles: compression rates differ; some of these are CD rips but at least one very rare recording came off YouTube.
- These are some folks who've expressed interest previously: AnthonyAthletic, karlhenning, madaboutmahler

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 03:09:17 PM »
Sign me up, Brian.  :)

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 03:45:48 PM »
Just put be on auto with these Blind Listenings. Sucker for em...
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Offline North Star

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 04:02:53 PM »
I'll definitely want to participate.
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 04:35:06 PM »
Definitely! Looking forward to it! :D
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Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2013, 02:19:48 AM »
That's wonderful, you can certainly count me in! ;D
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 06:26:53 AM »
I'm in.  ;D

Offline banpuku

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 08:00:30 AM »
In

Offline Brian

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 06:35:07 PM »
Thanks all who've volunteered so far! I have 19 of my 20 files, but 5 or 6 of these still have identifying info on them... hoping to send out our "Ondine" recordings this weekend.

I hope some more of our resident pianophiles will join in; the more the merrier! :)

Offline mjwal

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2013, 02:26:08 AM »
Me too - not exactly a piano expert, but -phile, yes!
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
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Peter Porter

Offline Octave

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2013, 03:45:46 AM »
I am worthless for commentary, but I'm really looking forward to listening in on the conversation; I've brushed up on a couple of these (blind-listening sessions) and they are great.  The recent Berlioz FANTASTIQUE was quite interesting and will be motivating a couple purchases when I finally digest what I've got.
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Offline Beale

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2013, 04:26:32 AM »
I've drum up enough courage to give this one a go. I will going to a Marc-André Hamelin recital later this year where this piece is on the programme, so I am pretty motivated to learn about it.

Offline Brian

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2013, 12:15:20 PM »
THE GAME IS AFOOT!

If you want to participate in the blind comparison for "Ondine" but you have not received a PM from me with links to the recordings, please reply or PM me! The more the merrier... and the listening/reckoning has begun.  :)

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2013, 03:05:23 PM »
Most groovy!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Boston MA
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Offline Todd

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2013, 04:20:25 PM »
I will going to a Marc-André Hamelin recital later this year where this piece is on the programme, so I am pretty motivated to learn about it.


I heard him play it last month.  His Scarbo is magnificent and malevolent.  I'm guessing you'll hear the same program I did, and if so, get ready for some extremely fine Berg and some almost inhumanly good Faure.  Hamelin's variations on Paganini's famous theme is a tour de force of virtuosity and quotations - too many to count, really.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 04:38:53 PM by Todd »
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Offline Todd

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2013, 04:27:59 PM »
Listened to the first five.  Listening conditions are not ideal - I used some Grados plugged directly into my laptop.  Grados are not my first choice, but they are the only cans I have on me that can be driven by my laptop; my 600 Ohm cans don't work.  And my laptop's output is not the best sounding.  That written, my results are:


16 – Very quick, sounding rushed, draining mystery and/or allure.  Too aggressive.  Technically solid with satisfying climax, but not nuanced enough.  Score: 6-7

17 – Wonderfully flexible, beautiful, great clarity and independence of hands.  Huge dynamic range.  Colorful.  Very alluring where it needs to be.  Luxurious.  Superb across the board.  Score: 10.

18 – Old sound hampers things a bit, with the hardened loud passages bothersome.  Playing is swift and colorful, almost insouciant, not to say careless, in how some of it is dashed off.  A bit pressed with the climaxes a bit strained sounding (certainly no match for #17).  Entertaining, but something is missing.  Score: 7.

19 – Sound is a bit compromised again.  Nuanced and delicate, alluring to open.  Attractive clarity, with some subtle personal touches thrown in throughout.  Recorded sound compromises dynamics, but control sounds exemplary.  Score: 9.

20 – A bit mannered and on the slow side, but the playing drew me in.  Attention to fine detail, though it seems to miss some of the big picture, and is not so much alluring as a display of pianism.  Dynamic range and climax is not hefty enough.  Score: 7-8. 

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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2013, 05:02:51 PM »
And here I thought I might be first! As I am not sure of my schedule, I wanted to get this one done asap. I'll do more if I can.

Overall, the impression of cascading water, visiting the water kingdom, etc., is best carried off by #1 and 5. #1 is remarkable, and this becomes even more evident after the others are heard. I could listen to it over and over. I hope this one and #5 get to the next round. Both are really fine. 

Pianist 1 – The repeating patterns in the early going are close to the side of shrill and harsh at times – but it is so well performed and the mood so well captured, I can live with it. Because when the rest of the music is played, it is pretty glorious and these repeating patterns simply fade into the whole to create some beautiful music. The phrasing here is also very good, and really much better than the others.  Structurally, I find this one good too. Technique is excellent and one just floats along the waves of this one. Rating: 9.5.

Pianist 2 – Structurally, though there is more of an attempt to be quite detailed, this one loses me sometimes. There is too much rubato, which breaks the pace, where I feel it benefits from a sort of inevitability or continuity. And a result, when this should be building up to soaring highs as it progresses, it somehow misses them. Well controlled in terms of playing though, I must admit. Still, I wanted more. Rating: 2.5.

Pianist 3 – Here, we have a much more nuanced rubato, much better. The repeated patterns are a bit dull in execution, but then the melodies interweave and you can feel the atmosphere. This one never really soars, feeling a bit episodic/choppy. Better than #2, but not really by much. Rating: 3.5

Pianist 4 – This pianist makes the beginning sound like a trill rather than a repeating pattern. It sounds like a different piece almost. It is well controlled, though I wish there was more organic build up, instead of dramatic shifts at times. Still, some wonderful performing here. Rating: 7.

Pianist 5 – Technically, some unevenness in the early going, though similar in approach to #1. This one has a softer, more fairy-tale impact, which just seduces the listener. Oh a joy! Perhaps too strong a break before the ending. Rating: 8.5.
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Offline Todd

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2013, 06:10:56 PM »
Sampled five more, 11-15. 

11 – Hits the notes, but seems cool.  Nothing alluring or colorful.  Climaxes are a bit muddy.  Dim sound doesn’t help.  Score: 5.

12 – Stiff.  Less fluid and graceful than I prefer, and not alluring.  Almost sounds like a cold, modernist take on the piece.  Loudest passages unattractive.  Score: 4.

13 – Marked improvement over previous two.  Fluid, lithe, alluring, and technically secure.  Loudest passages dispatched with ease.  Vocalizing noticeable through cans.  Score: 9.

14 – Beautiful to open.  Very elegant.  Warm and rich tone and sound.  Wonderful clarity and detail, with lovely right hand playing.  Loudest passages superb, with fine sound aiding things.  Score: 9

15 – Very steady left hand underpins opening.  Right hand spins out some lovely melodies.  Tone is appealing, but can become metallic at times.  Playing is forceful without being aggressive.  Well controlled.  Still, something sounds a bit perfunctory about it.  Score: 6.
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Offline banpuku

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2013, 04:20:10 AM »
Here are my scores for the first 5 (#11-15).

1.  14  beautiful key strokes
2.  12  beautiful key strokes, but not as convincing as #14
3.  15  solid, but not overwhelmed
4.  13  tempo is much too fast
5.  11  just did not like the sound nor performance

Offline mjwal

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Re: Blind Comparison: Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2013, 04:24:45 AM »
Just in case you didn't see my PM - I got a mail from you with a list of tracks but no links at all. BUT - when I sent you the PM replying to yours, the links appeared on your quoted text, not clickable unfortunately. I am utterly bemused by all this - nothing of the kind has ever happened before. >:(
Quoi faire?
THE GAME IS AFOOT!

If you want to participate in the blind comparison for "Ondine" but you have not received a PM from me with links to the recordings, please reply or PM me! The more the merrier... and the listening/reckoning has begun.  :)
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter