Author Topic: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer  (Read 46214 times)

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Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #160 on: June 21, 2012, 09:05:10 AM »
I've prepared a general ranking today. The ranking is made according to the 3 numbers at the end of each line : 1) round of elimination; 2) group rank at elimination; 3) average ranking at elimination.

1. E1 - Vladimir Ashkenazy, Cleveland Orchestra (Decca, 4/1986) 3/1
2. G4 - Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra (DG, live 14/8/2003) 3/2
3. C3 - Pierre Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra (DG, 3/1993) 3/3
4. H4 - Michel Tabachnik, Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO, 6/2010) 3/4
5. D2 - Carlo Maria Giulini, Los Angeles Philharmonic (DG, 1980) 3/5
6ea. A2 - Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic (Columbia/Sony, 16/10/1961) 2/2/1,92
6ea. C2 - Charles Dutoit, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Decca, 1989) 2/2/1,92
8. B4 - Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker (DG, 9-10/3/1964) 2/2/2
9ea. D1 - Pierre Monteux, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 19/7/1954) 2/2/2,1
9ea. E4 - Michael Tilson Thomas, Philharmonia Orchestra (CBS, 1982) 2/2/2,1
11. H1 - Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam (Philips, 12/1976) 2/3/2
12. B3 - Jean Fournet, Česká filharmonie (Supraphon, 27/10/1963) 2/3/2,08
13. G2 - Serge Baudo, London Philharmonic Orchestra (EMI, 1/1986) 2/3/2,15
14. F1 - Jean Martinon, Orchestre national de l'ORTF (EMI, 1973) 2/3/2,2
15. A4 - Evgueni Svetlanov, Orchestre national de France (Naïve, 25/1/2001) 2/3/2,3
16ea. F2 - Eduard van Beinum, Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam (London, 5/1957) 1/2/2,56
16ea. F3 - Sergiu Celibidache, Münchner Philharmoniker (EMI, live 1992)  1/2/2,56
18. E3 - Charles Munch, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 1956) 1/3/2,44
19. H2 - Jean-Claude Casadesus, Orchestre national de Lille (Harmonia Mundi, 1993-1994) 1/3/2,6
20. G1 - Igor Markevitch, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux (DG, 5/1959) 1/3/2,64
21. A1 - Michel Plasson, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse (EMI, 1987-1988) 1/3/2,67
22ea. B2 - Alain Lombard, Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg (Erato, 10/1975) 1/3/2,75
22ea. C4 - Charles Munch, Orchestre national de la RTF (Montaigne, live 1962) 1/3/2,75
24. D4 - Ernest Ansermet, Orchestre de la Suisse romande (Decca/London, 1964) 1/3/2,78
25. A3 - Serge Koussevitzky, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA Victor, 1938-1939) 1/4/2,75
26. F4 - Piero Coppola, Orchestre de la société des concerts du Conservatoire (HMV, 1932) 1/4/2,89
27. B1 - Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, Orchestre national de la RTF (Montaigne, live 1962) 1/4/3
28. C1 - Arturo Toscanini, BBC Symphony Orchestra (HMV, live 12/6/1935) 1/4/3,25
29. H3 - George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra (Columbia, 11-12/1/1963) 1/4/3,3
30. E2 - Roger Désormière, Česká filharmonie (Supraphon/Ultraphone, 10/1950) 1/4/3,33
31. G3 - Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 1/6/1950) 1/4/3,36
32. D3 - John Barbirolli, Orchestre de Paris (EMI, 12/1968) 1/4/3,44

And, to answer karlhenning's questions, 32 versions were selected but I listened to almost 100 to prepare this comparison. It was not easy to decide in the end, I did probably made avoidable choices (Barbirolli for instance), but I guess a more limited selection would have meant no Tabachnik for instance, or no Baudo...
In the end this is only kind of a game. The Ashkenazy version is only the best version of this comparison made in 2012 with these precise 32 versions. It is not a definitive result, just an indication about what versions could be interesting to know and eventually buy (and I'm happy to see that many among participants have decided to buy versions whcih are actually not always finalists, and I completely agree about the value of some of them, as Koussevitzky, Coppola, Bernstein, Svetlanov...)

Online Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #161 on: June 21, 2012, 10:25:48 AM »
I've prepared a general ranking today

16ea. F3 - Sergiu Celibidache, Münchner Philharmoniker (EMI, live 1992)

Nice to see my favorite Celi at least in the middle of the pack. I would have guessed he'd be at the bottom with Barbirolli. But I think his unique interpretation has merit...well, more than that: I think it most effectively gives us a sense of the sea even if it doesn't give us a true sense of Debussy's intentions. I recently read a review that was impressed with the acceleration at the end of the last movement in a certain performance (I can't recall which conductor). It's not a depiction of the sea but rather the growing excitement of the human observer of the sea. Celi's broad grandeur in the same measures gives us the sea itself. And in the end, I prefer that.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
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Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #162 on: June 21, 2012, 10:31:09 AM »
Gosh, and I must have Celi conducting that piece, somewhere at home . . . .
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Online Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #163 on: June 21, 2012, 10:38:46 AM »
Gosh, and I must have Celi conducting that piece, somewhere at home . . . .

If you don't have it Karl, I can send you a copy. I've got several on hand. It really is unique. Here are the timings between the critical darling Karajan, and Celi:


Celibidache/Munich  13:10  8:43 11:18

Karajan/Berlin           8:32  6:10  7:51


Sarge   
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #164 on: June 21, 2012, 10:40:05 AM »
Very kind, Sarge! I shall check, but I am sure it's there.  It's a while since I listened, but I remember being enthralled when I did listen.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #165 on: June 21, 2012, 12:39:58 PM »
This comparison made me curious about the Ashkenazy recording. My prejudices suggest it would not be to my taste -- pumped up and highly dramatized, like his Sibelius. I found it on Mog and listened. If anything it's even more pumped up that I would have imagined. Definitely not to my taste. But it is so well executed and convincingly done that I couldn't help admiring it -- and so I bought a copy! If nothing else it offers significant contrast to the recordings I prefer (some of which were included in the survey and ranked highly).
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #166 on: June 21, 2012, 02:55:40 PM »
A fun one that might have proved interesting for comparisons is Stokowski's version with the LSO. The sound is sumptuous although as to be expected certain Stokowskisms do interrupt the, err...flow.

A good ride all around, though.







Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Brian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #167 on: June 21, 2012, 02:56:34 PM »
My prejudices suggest it would not be to my taste -- pumped up and highly dramatized, like his Sibelius. I found it on Mog and listened. If anything it's even more pumped up that I would have imagined. Definitely not to my taste. But it is so well executed and convincingly done that I couldn't help admiring it

This more or less perfectly summarizes why I placed it only third on my ballot, behind Tabachnik and Abbado.

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #168 on: June 21, 2012, 03:05:48 PM »
A fun one that might have proved interesting for comparisons is Stokowski's version with the LSO. The sound is sumptuous although as to be expected certain Stokowskisms do interrupt the, err...flow.

A good ride all around, though.

I listened to it before I made the selection and, frankly, I did not consider it at all as a candidate for this comparison. At its best (first movement) it is just vulgar and musically, er... wrong. At its worst it really lacks precision and is completely boring. Of course the orchestra is good and sounds quite well, but still, this version might be the worst I've ever heard. I gave it the lowest score on my personal list, along with a horrible Schuricht version with RSO Stuttgart (1952).

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #169 on: June 21, 2012, 10:00:07 PM »
I listened to it before I made the selection and, frankly, I did not consider it at all as a candidate for this comparison. At its best (first movement) it is just vulgar and musically, er... wrong. At its worst it really lacks precision and is completely boring. Of course the orchestra is good and sounds quite well, but still, this version might be the worst I've ever heard. I gave it the lowest score on my personal list, along with a horrible Schuricht version with RSO Stuttgart (1952).

You may not like it but four Amazon reviewers like it. And I like it. So obviously somebody out there likes it. Hence my curiosity at having it put in front of a panel.


« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 10:21:23 PM by Dancing Divertimentian »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #170 on: June 21, 2012, 11:18:10 PM »
You may not like it but four Amazon reviewers like it. And I like it. So obviously somebody out there likes it. Hence my curiosity at having it put in front of a panel.

I generally try to be quite objective in my selection, and do not select only versions which are to my taste but which have a chance to "win" in the end. But I can make mistakes, of course. Maybe Stokowski is better than Ashkenazy. Again, the result of a comparison is only the result of the precise selection which has been made, determined by the precise panel contributing on a precise date, etc. It has no universal value. You can do another blind comparison on La Mer next week if you want, with a different selection, a different panel, and different results...

Still, the Stokowski version would never have passed the first round, but that's only my experience speaking.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #171 on: June 22, 2012, 06:56:50 PM »
I generally try to be quite objective in my selection, and do not select only versions which are to my taste but which have a chance to "win" in the end. But I can make mistakes, of course. Maybe Stokowski is better than Ashkenazy. Again, the result of a comparison is only the result of the precise selection which has been made, determined by the precise panel contributing on a precise date, etc. It has no universal value. You can do another blind comparison on La Mer next week if you want, with a different selection, a different panel, and different results...

Still, the Stokowski version would never have passed the first round, but that's only my experience speaking.


:'(


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #172 on: June 23, 2012, 03:07:01 AM »
:'(

Not everyone's views and experience deserve equal consideration, eh, Don? But those of us who've benefited from your recommendations over the years are grateful.

I just noticed your "new" tagline quoting Prokofiev. How timely for me. My wife and I were discussing him only yesterday in the context of 20th C. symphonists and agreed that his persistent playfulness and good humor distinguished him. I'm always surprised when folks seem to miss that and think he should be sarcastic or "grotesque," biting instead of joshing. He even survived life in the Soviet Union under Stalin without having that entirely suppressed and supplanted by Shostakovian anguish.

As for La Mer, I think Gatti's new release likely to hold up over time against my other faves. (His Tchaikovsky and Mahler certainly have!) And though I'm already experiencing a wee bit of buyer's remorse over Ashkenazy (how likely am I to listen more than once or twice to a recording that violates my aesthetic sensibilities regarding the piece?), I'm still interested in hearing it over the hi fi instead of the PC.
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #173 on: June 23, 2012, 03:47:52 AM »
Out of curiosity, I've applied some differnt analyses and approaches to measuring the results. Here are my conclusions:
1. In any scoring scenario I devised, E1 always came first.
2. Similarly, G4 always came second. This is because the votes are nearly identical, with one extra 1st place vote for E1 and one extra 3rd place vote for G4.
3. D2 always comes last! It had ZERO votes for first place, and the most for last (12 votes).
4. In all my scenarios H4 and C3 swap places. The reason is that despite C3 (Boulez) getting more first place votes, it also got more 4th and 5th place votes. H4 got ZERO votes for last place and only 4 votes for 4th (meaning 79% were neutral or positive to G4, while just over 50% were positve or neutral to C3)
5. The results don't change for all practical purposes. They do where distribution of results is different (as you would expect), but it's a negligible impact.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Online Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #174 on: June 23, 2012, 04:10:23 AM »
A fun one that might have proved interesting for comparisons is Stokowski's version with the LSO. The sound is sumptuous although as to be expected certain Stokowskisms do interrupt the, err...flow.

A good ride all around, though.



I have the LP! I don't think I've listened to it since I acquired a CD player (27 years ago). I'll spin it this afternoon.

Not everyone's views and experience deserve equal consideration, eh, Don?


One of my favorites (Sinopoli) wasn't included in the comparison either. But I don't fault Discobole. He couldn't include every recording. Choices had to be made and, in this case, his views are more equal than ours (his comparison, his choices)  ;)  I think he made a great selection, including both historical and modern recordings with a great variety of interpretive differences (hey, Ansermet and Celi in the comparison; can't get much more extreme than that).

Sarge
« Last Edit: June 23, 2012, 04:19:05 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #175 on: June 23, 2012, 05:27:42 AM »
One of my favorites (Sinopoli) wasn't included in the comparison either. But I don't fault Discobole. He couldn't include every recording. Choices had to be made and, in this case, his views are more equal than ours (his comparison, his choices)  ;)  I think he made a great selection, including both historical and modern recordings with a great variety of interpretive differences (hey, Ansermet and Celi in the comparison; can't get much more extreme than that).
I don't fault him for that, either. And certainly not for recognizing that the comparison is no more nor less than what it was, with no pretense to completeness or definitiveness. Were I choosing competitors, I would have included more recent recordings and fewer historical issues -- but it's disco's comparison, not mine, so what I might have chosen instead doesn't really mean a thing!

I'm not familiar with Sinopoli's. Looks long OOP but admired enough for Arkiv to "reissue" it!
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Online Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #176 on: June 23, 2012, 05:41:47 AM »
I'm not familiar with Sinopoli's. Looks long OOP but admired enough for Arkiv to "reissue" it!

It's included in the cheap 16-disc Sinopoli edition offered by Amazon It

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #177 on: June 23, 2012, 02:19:53 PM »
I don't fault him for that, either. And certainly not for recognizing that the comparison is no more nor less than what it was, with no pretense to completeness or definitiveness. Were I choosing competitors, I would have included more recent recordings and fewer historical issues -- but it's disco's comparison, not mine, so what I might have chosen instead doesn't really mean a thing!

I'm not familiar with Sinopoli's. Looks long OOP but admired enough for Arkiv to "reissue" it!

Well, I offered a very limited amount of historical versions, less than a third date from before 1960 ! And the dominance of the 1960s is really the result of the extreme number of versions made in the first years of stereo recording.

...-1939 : 3
1940s : 0
1950s : 6
1960s : 8
1970s : 3
1980s : 6
1990s : 3
2000-12 : 3

Gatti is one of the worst recent versions I heard. But it's not a surprise, he's generally a disappointment, and the ONF is at the weakest point of its history...

Sinopoli is an interesting version, but really, it didn't have a cahance to win because of a very disappointing Philharmonia Orchestra. It was quite in the same taste as Celibidache or Svetlanov, but with an inferior technical achievement. Hence the non-selection.

I'll try to clarify all that with comments on all versions I've listened in a few days.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2012, 04:47:35 PM by Discobole »

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #178 on: June 23, 2012, 04:44:50 PM »
:'(

Not everyone's views and experience deserve equal consideration, eh, Don? But those of us who've benefited from your recommendations over the years are grateful.

I just noticed your "new" tagline quoting Prokofiev. How timely for me. My wife and I were discussing him only yesterday in the context of 20th C. symphonists and agreed that his persistent playfulness and good humor distinguished him. I'm always surprised when folks seem to miss that and think he should be sarcastic or "grotesque," biting instead of joshing. He even survived life in the Soviet Union under Stalin without having that entirely suppressed and supplanted by Shostakovian anguish.

Thank you kindly, Dave. I think I'm blushing! ;D

Quote
As for La Mer, I think Gatti's new release likely to hold up over time against my other faves. (His Tchaikovsky and Mahler certainly have!)

Might have to give that one a try!

Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #179 on: June 23, 2012, 04:55:24 PM »
I have the LP! I don't think I've listened to it since I acquired a CD player (27 years ago). I'll spin it this afternoon.

Awesome! 8)

 
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach