Author Topic: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4  (Read 11475 times)

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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #60 on: March 10, 2012, 01:04:02 AM »
I wrote more than I was expecting (got carried away). I've left it in case there was interest. Results are in the first paragraph. I highlighted the overall results of each submission if you don't want to read clip by clip comments. 

Most interesting. I chose A1 as the winner. Actually, I felt it won by a lot. It left the door open on the last clip, but none of them were ideal there either. Interesting that A1 and C3 were my #1 picks in the two scenarios and here they were #1 and #2 (I didn’t look at my earlier notes until I heard all five, so good to know I am consistent  - phew!). C3, A5, and B2 (in that order) were closely grouped, but D5 was clearly a ways back for me, mostly due to strange tempos. Despite this, it did have excellent phrasing and stylish sound. If not for the tempo changes, this could have been a real contender.  Also interesting – none of these was ideal, particularly in the last clip. A1 came closest, but despite listening to all of these different and wonderful versions, I don’t feel I have found ‘the one’ for me yet from these groupings.

A1
Clip 1: Nice start in terms of atmosphere and sound. Good dynamics and phrasing in terms of differentiation throughout. Great impact. Speeds up and becomes thrilling. Oh man, this is heaven. Lots of detail. The constant movement in dynamics and phrasing that are heard here are impressive (more than others) and this really adds a ton of impact. Good forward thrust. Overall - impressive.  Rating: 9.
Clip 2: Prettily done and overall moving. String soloist is good and nicely highlighted.  Rating: 8
Clip 3: And this wonderful start is even more impressive in context. Wow!  A little more exaggeration of dynamics/phrasing could have made it even better in a couple places. Good consistency in terms of speed. Slowdown towards end works, amazingly so.  Rating:  8.5
Clip 4: Build up is spine tingling. Very organic build up – really well done! Rating: 9
Clip 5: Some muddiness in strings at moments. Speed – ach, wish they had started faster. Still, excellent. But they have left the door open here. But they do make the rest of it effective. Such a slight blemish, I know, because they do pick up momentum. Race to end is exciting.  Rating:  7.5.
Overall:  A1 has set the bar very high. Playing and style have been at a very high level. I will definitely consider acquiring this one. Slight let down in the last clip, but nothing is less than good. Going back and comparing, one of the things I love about this is the legato playing. Some sound too clipped or staccato (and some go too legato all the time), while this one a better balance in this regard. It made the difference for me in terms of being moved by it. There is also more going on with the dynamics/phrasing and I responded to that. There is a lot of great detail audible here. The details and nuances of inflection, phrasing, dynamics, etc, are one of this version’s most admirable qualities.

Rank: 1

A5
Clip 1: Crisp start. A bit statelier than A1, but quite lyrical and well played. And we’re off - better playing in terms of crispness and precision. A bit faster, so perhaps doesn’t emphasize the emotional aspects quite as much. It doesn’t always get quite as much sound from low brass (at around the 5-5:30 mark) and even brass in general.  Sometimes I wanted more. Brighter than A1. Rating: 8.
Clip 2: Loses momentum a bit at the start. Liked solo a bit less than A1 – seems to get lost a bit at times in the orchestra (perhaps a recording issue). Perhaps a bit more mechanical playing here. Rating: 6.5.
Clip 3: Nice crisp, energetic start. Great!  This is a more stately approach. Great in the bombastic parts, but seems to let me down in the quieter, lyrical parts. I think it is played a bit too staccato in places. Still, excellent playing. Good amount of detail.  Rating: 7.
Clip 4: Played well. Did its job. Rating: 7.
Clip 5: Slower too. But then picks up. Again, very nice playing, and some wonderful moments. I felt they could have let their hair down a bit more throughout. Very exciting end. Rating: 7.5.
Overall: This is a grander version in many ways, and less overtly emotional for me. I liked it. It’s played well. But it doesn’t touch me like A1 did. It doesn’t make as effective use of the extremes.  And I didn’t like some of the phrasing, but that is what differentiates this version in many ways. But still worthy to be in the final (and I rather hope that someone will champion it – it has a lot of good qualities).

Rank: 3

B2
Clip 1: Adjusting for the poor sound. A lot of phrasing and dynamic differentiation at the beginning of this one.  And we’re off, almost wildly (too wildly?). Boy is this exciting, though it frays a bit at times. At the four minute mark, it sounds strange  - instruments badly recorded there?  Perhaps a bit too staccato (especially in some of the declamatory moments). Rating: 7
Clip 2: Perhaps slow, but I really enjoyed the almost duet quality that starts this off. A real melancholy feel, which the violin solo changes. Lovely effect there.  This movement captures a good sense of quiet, melancholy and longing. Rating: 8.
Clip 3: Love it fast – this almost too much so, though it’s a brilliant contrast with the previous movement. Good playing here (though a hair clipped :)). A little muddy when the strings play their unison part, though style is good.  Tremendous contrasts here (within the clip and compared to the previous one). Rating: 7.5.
Clip 4: Pretty good. Rating: 6.
Clip 5: Good speed (though clipped/staccato). Seems a bit tame here though compared to some of the earlier playing. A little more legato would have gone a long way. But the buildup as it goes on is quite good. And then it flies like the wind at the end. It soars. Rating: 7.
Overall: Shame about the sound, but a very good interpretation.  Lack of punch in brass (almost certainly a recording issue) is a real shame as a number of moments are less than they could be. The approach overall is well done and I imagine this must have been quite impressive to hear in person. Certainly deserving to be in the final.

Rank: 4

C3
Clip 1: Nice start. Though loses a bit of energy. I could see someone liking the sweep of it, though for me, a bit draggy. There is some congestion in the tuttis (but I will ignore that for the purposes of this listening). And then it goes at a nice tempo, but the playing is ragged to start (which really reduces the impact). Winds have a bit of highlighting in the sound. I find the continual lack of unison and precision irritating (in some parts caused by an inconsistency in tempo and entrances), for which I marked it down. Also not loving the balance (which may be a technical issue, but I find irritating). Rating: 6.5.
Clip 2: Another version, where the start is almost like a duet. Some really beautiful playing. Solo violin is also quite beautiful. It is a bit slow when the violin enters, but it somehow suits this interpretation. Rating: 8.5.
Clip 3: Nice start, but a bit clipped in style, which changes the impact of the movement. Nice overall, but doesn’t grab me. Rating: 7.
Clip 4: Nice build up. Really gorgeous playing here. Rating: 8.5.
Clip 5: Slow, stately start. Speeds up, and gives it a bit more momentum. And then it slows down around the 2:15 mark– not effective. But as they settle in to the speed, they do ok. This one doesn’t do well at building the excitement. It is more of a roller coaster in this respect.  Rating: 7   
Overall: Fine version let down by some imprecise playing in the early movements. The staccato playing is not always stylistically the right choice in my opinion, but perhaps there are those here who will prefer it.  A good version though.

Rank: 2

D5
Clip 1:  Not quite as impactful a start. Improves as it goes on. First couple of minutes are mixed, but then they seem to get it together a bit.  Some unison and wrong note issues. Sudden speed at about 9:40. Did anyone else do this?  Rating: 7.
Clip 2: Opening theme is out of synch with the strings to start, which lessens the impact. A bit dull to me. String solo – entrance early (and again unison is not as precise as I’d like). Phrasing is pretty good.  Rating: 6.5
Clip 3: Quick and fleet. Finally, they sound together. And then they slow down (too much)! Ugh. And then fast again. Then slow. Then fast.  (I didn’t know I could get a whiplash from listening to music). Absolutely destroys this movement and the flow. It’s a coarse way of playing it in my opinion. Rating: 3
Clip 4: Trying to repair the damage, and the movement has a pretty good buildup, though not quite as exciting as some of the others. Some details not heard (probably due to recording issues). Rating: 7.
Clip 5: And we’re off! Nice. Some unison issues. And then a bit slower, and slowing down even more. Do I need to insert a quarter?!?!? And now they are close to disaster, but they speed up tremendously.  And then a bit slower. This one has some nice effects and phrasing (really fine, that some of the others don’t come close to), but it is totally outdone by some strange tempo changes. The highlight of some moments is excellent, but the overall line is damaged to make a certain moment shine. And the ending is brilliant (fast and furious). Rating: 5
Overall: This one is ruined by strange inconsistencies or changes in tempo that distract (neurotic perhaps). Some outstanding phrasing and style. Shame, because it does a number of things better than (or as good as) the others.

Rank:  5
« Last Edit: March 13, 2012, 11:10:27 PM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline mszczuj

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #61 on: March 11, 2012, 10:36:36 AM »

My opinion have somehow been changed after listening to all the fragments.

Bad
Rank5 B2 - Not good at all. Played as the orchestral fireworks not as the spiritual experience.
Rank4 D5 - All the slow is too slow when compared with the fast. Like if it was only contrast between them in this symphony. And it is not the very interesting slow.

Good
Rank3 C3 - Good but there is sometimes too much hurry in the fast movements. I don't mean tempo. It is like if it was a movement which goes in one direction. It is not always but sometimes.
Rank2 A1 - Good but not very brillant. But it is more acceptable when you listen to it some more times.

Very good
Rank1 A5 - The only one which make some sense in the Finale and this is not an easy task. It seems to be much slower that it really is. And this is not because of the dullness but because of the richness.

Online Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #62 on: March 11, 2012, 01:31:55 PM »
Listening to so many versions of Schumann No.4 was very amusing, I look forward to seeing the results! ;D
My comments:

A1
1. The opening was slow, but passionate and harmonic; great tempo, with great intesity in the Allegro, which was very powerful and beautifully played; very melodious and brilliant second theme. Excellent phrasing and balance among the instruments.
2. Quite romantic and lyrical, it expressed a rather melancholic, but melodious, moving atmosphere; very good violin solo.
3. Very powerful and impressive opening. Nice tempo, good phrasing of the themes; the lyrical melody was charming and enjoyable. The rythm was a bit slow, making the movement lack some passion and expressive strenght.
4. It started in a very beautiful and thrilling way, but it sounded lacking power in some parts of the Allegro, which was enchanting and brillaint though. The Finale is very intense and dynamic.

A5
1. Gorgeous opening, incredibly passionate and powerful; the phrasing was wonderful and the first theme showed much intesity and orchestral brilliance. Great balance and rythm, it was a highly enjoyable performance, very well-played.
2. Very moving and romantic movement, powerfully emotional, with amazing rythm and tempo; the violin solo was very melodious and technically wonderful.
3. Such a thrilling and powerful performance, I appreciated it very much; the rythm was perfect and phrasing beautiful, they gave great passion and harmony to the movement.
4. Higly expressive and intense opening; the rest of the movement was melodious, colourful and very beautiful, with a powerful and striking finale.

B2
1. I adore the old recordings. The rythm was very fast, but intense and brilliant at the same time; also the choice of the tempo is very good. Very gorgeous and powerful opening, so was the allegro, certainly bright and  impressive. The orchestra sounded very fine and precise, great quality.
2. Beautiful and charming playing, rather expressive and moving; enchanting violin solo, very well supported by the orchestra.
3. Powerful and vibrant beginning; also excellent phrasing between the first melody, very exciting and rich of energy, and the second one, harmonic and melodious. Fast and involving rythm.
4. Very good opening, intense and well-played; the allegro was rather strong and beautiful, although the tone sometimes seemed to grow faint a bit too much, maybe because of the not perfect sound quality. Powerful and thrilling finale.

C3
1. Brilliant and expressive opening, rather passionate; the introduction to the Allegro was too slow, it lacked some strenght and intesity, but it remained powerful and moving enough anyway. The lyrical theme was melodious and romantic. Nice connection of the melodies, even if the passages sometimes sounded hasty.
2. Enjoyable and rather enchanting, but it sounded lacking harmony during the performance.
3. Fairly passionate and intense; good, but maybe little slow rythm, which didn't create enough strenght and power.
4. Started in a very enegetic and vibrant way, rather valuable; the final part was very moving and intense as well; a good performance, brillaint.

D5
1. It was another old recording, the sound quality was much better here. Beautifully played by the orchestra, the movement was powerful and dynamic, brilliant and harmonic.
2. Not as romantic, passionate and lyrical as the other versions; otherwise, again the orchestra played in a fine and enthustiastic way, certainly enjoyable.
3. Rather expressive and strong, but the rythm was not perfectly balanced, it sometimes changed during the performance.
4. Both the opening and the finale were beautiful, quite intense and powerful; here the choices of tempo and rythm returned on a good level, particularly warm and involving in the Allegro, more slow and enphatic in the soft part.

In order, my ranking:
A5
B2
A1
C3
D5
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Offline Sadko

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #63 on: March 11, 2012, 01:42:00 PM »
I'm interested in the preferences of our participants, so I made a little table with the choices.

Since I don't know how to make a white coloured table I made a screenshot:

http://s14.directupload.net/images/120311/z75b3rx2.gif

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #64 on: March 11, 2012, 02:05:48 PM »
I'm interested in the preferences of our participants, so I made a little table with the choices.

Since I don't know how to make a white coloured table I made a screenshot:

http://s14.directupload.net/images/120311/z75b3rx2.gif

It's very nifty to see it that way. Thanks! I hope there will be a few more votes. It would have been unanimous on the #1 choice except for me!  :o
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #65 on: March 11, 2012, 02:25:30 PM »
I'm interested in the preferences of our participants, so I made a little table with the choices.

Since I don't know how to make a white coloured table I made a screenshot:

http://s14.directupload.net/images/120311/z75b3rx2.gif

Thanks for this. Can't wait for the performances to be revealed!

By the way, Ilaria - it seems our votes are almost identical! Just one difference! You have good taste! :P
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Online Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #66 on: March 11, 2012, 02:32:48 PM »
Thanks for this. Can't wait for the performances to be revealed!

By the way, Ilaria - it seems our votes are almost identical! Just one difference! You have good taste! :P

Are they? Let me have a look.....
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Online Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #67 on: March 11, 2012, 02:35:05 PM »
Are they? Let me have a look.....

Ah, you're right; I suppose this means you have good taste too. ;)

Can't wait to see the results and the names of the interpreters!
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Offline Sadko

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #68 on: March 11, 2012, 02:37:09 PM »

Can't wait to see the results and the names of the interpreters!

Looking at the votes so far I have the feeling we have got to wait a bit longer ...

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #69 on: March 11, 2012, 02:41:30 PM »
Ah, you're right; I suppose this means you have good taste too. ;)

 ;D

Looking at the votes so far I have the feeling we have got to wait a bit longer ...

According to the original intentions, there are only 20 minutes to go until the results shall be revealed....
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Offline Sadko

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #70 on: March 11, 2012, 02:54:08 PM »
So it is "official" now, we'll have to wait till Tuesday, midnight.

arkadin

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #71 on: March 13, 2012, 01:48:34 PM »
it was difficuld decision because i m not a good schumanian,

1st  D5 : more expressive and sharper than the others, more unexpected change of volume of sound made it first
2nd B2 : i like old recordings, they have deeper sound, tempo was very fast, it was the only weak side
3rd  A5 : perfect recording, it has no weak side but has no special side as well
4th  C3 : unbalanced in general about tempo and expressiveness, it s also nice old recording
5th  A1 : as you see slow tempo brought it last, but i didn't say i didn't like it.

Offline Sadko

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #72 on: March 13, 2012, 05:03:25 PM »
For the readers of this thread who didn't take part in the reviewing, here is the result, as told by Discobole:

    1. A5
    2. A1
    3. D5
    4. B2
    5. C3

    5th - C3 : Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra (London Philharmonic Orchestra), Adrian Boult (Nixa/Westminster, 8/1956)

    4th - B2 : Deutsches Philharmonisches Orchester Prag, Joseph Keilberth (1942)

    3rd - D5 : Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig, Hermann Abendroth (Edel/Berlin Classics, 31/3/1956)

    2nd : A1 - Berliner Philharmoniker, Klaus Tennstedt (EMI, 4/1980)

    1st : A5 - Staatskapelle Dresden, Wolfgang Sawallisch (EMI, 9/1972)

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #73 on: March 13, 2012, 11:09:11 PM »
For those who like pictures:

Here is the final ranking :

1. A5
2. A1
3. D5
4. B2
5. C3

You can also see the table of votes and the table of preferences.

The versions are :

5th - C3 : Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra (London Philharmonic Orchestra), Adrian Boult (Nixa/Westminster, 8/1956)




4th - B2 : Deutsches Philharmonisches Orchester Prag, Joseph Keilberth (1942)





3rd - D5 : Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig, Hermann Abendroth (Edel/Berlin Classics, 31/3/1956)




2nd - A1 : Berliner Philharmoniker, Klaus Tennstedt (EMI, 4/1980)






1st : A5 - Staatskapelle Dresden, Wolfgang Sawallisch (EMI, 9/1972)




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jlaurson

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #74 on: March 14, 2012, 12:23:27 AM »
C3: spunk and joy. / Slight distortion and/or pitch issues with solo violin. Very bloody slow. / A bit bombastic. Also aged. Bit on the heal of the notes. | meh.. still not impressed at 2:02 / Drag-drag-drag...  / Slackmeister. No urgency. Picks up, as they all do, and gets better.

My least favorite.

B2: First movement in and out... hard to listen through all the SQ issues and judge adequately.  / a sea of calm / Holy cow: Zippy stuff, this! Lebhaft? More like: "Only 4:30 to one side of these shellacks? No problem?" / Nice dramatic build-up, orch-internal dynamics finely nuanced. / Not getting a lot out of this, so far. Oh, no, wait... there's drama coming around.

Good stuff.

A5: on the wrong headphones dense, thick... and some of that sticks. I imagine a big name orchestra with a big name guest conductor to play like this... in the 80s, maybe. / well played toward the end, amid a style that is no longer my cup of tea for Schumann, fine clip - but you hardly notice. / Star Wars / _____ / full bodied, smooth romantic -- yet with momentum. Wagnerian moments "inapproprite" but totally awesome.

Not a favorite, either... but with greatness somewhere in there.

A1: ____ / ______ / Sofort schmissig. Wie ueberhaupt A1 einfach sinning und mitnehmend ist. / ______

D5: _____ / _______ / _________ / _______ / yeah... dig it. not quite like the others.

I THINK that my choice would be: 1.) A1,      2.) B2                                  3.) A5,              5.) C3

(I don't really have a proper opinion about D5...)

jlaurson

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #75 on: March 14, 2012, 12:30:46 AM »
C3
==

Sadness. A bit "Symphonie pathétique". Drive.
Rushed - and then slowing down strangely
Inorganic tempi.
Heavy.
Again, an abrupt accelerando, like switched on instead of developed.
ROMANZE: More a funeral march. The "song" is very slow, and heavy.
SCHERZO: Carnival of the Animals: Elephants. It even tries to dance.
LANGSAM: BIG!
LEBHAFT: Heavy

Character: The sad circus elephant.


Haha. Brilliant.  ;D

Online Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #76 on: March 14, 2012, 08:08:35 AM »
Wow, so the Sawallisch was my favourite recording? A really beautiful, brilliant performance! ;D
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arkadin

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #77 on: March 14, 2012, 08:41:03 AM »
i didn't understand how you calculated it

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #78 on: March 14, 2012, 09:02:35 AM »
I knew it was the Sawalisch! ;) Absolutely brilliant, classic recording - it deserved to win. I doubt Sarge would agree though. ;)

So the other one I really liked was the Keilberth. Just looking for it on amazon now, but cannot find it!!! Any suggestions?
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind comparison : R. Schumann, Symphony no. 4
« Reply #79 on: March 14, 2012, 09:11:04 AM »
Sawallisch!

As promised in the Listening Thread:


AAARRRRGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!




Sarge

« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 09:13:38 AM by Sergeant Rock »
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