Author Topic: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer  (Read 45504 times)

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Offline fridden

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #40 on: May 20, 2012, 09:13:12 PM »
Results

Group E

Qualified :
E1 is one of the most unanimous choices in this round, 6 times first and 2 times 3rd on 9 votes. But all versions had their supporters. E4 is qualified despite a not-so-high average ranking .

Eliminated :
- 3rd : E3 - Charles Munch, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 1956). Results in this group are certainly the most surprising of the whole first round, at least by the names of the eliminated. This version, generally considered as the main reference in this score, is eliminated, and frankly nobody seemed very impressed.
- 4th : E2 - Roger Désormière, Česká filharmonie (Supraphon/Ultraphone, 10/1950). Another big name, this version which was considered as the best recording on earth ever, period, by Sviatoslav Richter (who played it for his old master Heinrich Neuhaus). A myth, which will remain so, but does not survive this comparison.


Hmm, apparantly my taste is similar to Richter since I ranked E2 my top choice.
My runner up were Munch, so both of my top choices are gone   :'(


/fridden

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2012, 12:36:34 AM »
Hm... by revealing the eliminated versions aren't you giving clues as to what those still in the race could be, perhaps introducing a little bias in the experienced listener? :)

About F3: I guessed as much. ;D

I just revealed 17 versions, I listened to 100 in total, then I don't think anyone can guess with certainty which are the 15 remaining versions. As long as you don't check your personal collection, of course, but that's an underlying rule.

F3 was probably the easiest to recognize, but not everyone did actually know it.

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2012, 02:05:16 AM »
Results

Group A

Qualified :
Things were difficult at first for A4, but it finally ranks 1st. A2 was virtually qualified through the whole vote, but it finishes 2nd and could have been endangered with a couple different votes...
Eliminated :
- 3rd : A1 - Michel Plasson, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse (EMI, 1987-1988). The orchestra from Toulouse sounds surprizingly full and with beautiful winds, but this interpretation lacks a little life, a little wind on the sea...
- 4th : A3 - Serge Koussevitzky, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA Victor, 1938-1939). One of my favourite interpretations since I've known it. I just couldn't leave it out of the selection, even if I knew it would not go very far because of its sound quality. The orchestra is really incredible for these times, beautiful and precise.


Considering the year, the Koussevitzky sound was pretty remarkable (and I am glad you included it). I really enjoyed Group A. I felt that all of them had something redeeming and none was an outright stinker. This made it a difficult vote. I will be curious to see how A2 and A4 fare in the later rounds (as well as hearing parts from versions I've not heard yet).
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #43 on: May 21, 2012, 02:56:21 AM »
F3 - Despite the length, I didn't get bored.

F3 Sergiu Celibidache, Münchner Philharmoniker (EMI, live 1992)

About F3: I guessed as much. ;D

Celi's my favorite version of La Mer. It describes beautifully the majestic mass of the sea, and its crushing power.

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."
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Offline Opus106

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2012, 04:22:47 AM »
Celi's my favorite version of La Mer. It describes beautifully the majestic mass of the sea, and its crushing power.

Sarge

Quite. The music really doesn't need to be 'sped up', methinks.
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #45 on: May 21, 2012, 07:08:38 AM »
Very interesting results! Glad to see that most of my favourites from the three groups I did have got through to the next round, although it's a shame that Koussevitzky did not get through though, I really enjoyed that one!

Looking forward to the next round, thank you Discobole! :)
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Offline Brian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #46 on: May 21, 2012, 08:22:36 AM »
Interesting, for group B my votes aligned perfectly with the voters as a whole, but in group H my rankings were exactly the opposite of the final tally! Szell was my top choice there. But I found the four selections in H very similar in their pace, feel, and good-but-not-special-ness.

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #47 on: May 21, 2012, 08:25:39 AM »
Quite. The music really doesn't need to be 'sped up', methinks.

It doesn't really need to be slowed down either  ;D

If you follow the indications on the score, the first movement should last about 8 minutes. 9 is already quite slow. But Celi takes 13 minutes !

Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #48 on: May 21, 2012, 08:34:45 AM »
This first round was really a great fun, I enjoyed listening to those recordings so much! ;D I'm looking forward to the second turn, hope Karajan's version will score very high this time!
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #49 on: May 21, 2012, 09:15:15 AM »
It doesn't really need to be slowed down either  ;D

If you follow the indications on the score, the first movement should last about 8 minutes. 9 is already quite slow. But Celi takes 13 minutes !

Yes, which is exactly why Celi is so special. A true interpreter, going to the heart of the music even if it contradicts the composer   :D  8)

Sarge
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 09:18:33 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 Sergeant Rock

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #50 on: May 21, 2012, 09:17:10 AM »
Szell was my top choice there.

You're my hero  :) So worthy, you should have been born in northeast Ohio, in 40s ;D

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"

Drasko

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #51 on: May 21, 2012, 09:40:29 AM »
If you follow the indications on the score, the first movement should last about 8 minutes.

How many manage to clock it at 8? Off top of my head I can think of only one.

Interesting results of first the round. I'm now especially curious about group E, two recordings that flat out eliminated Desormiere and Munch, both more than very fine in my opinion.

But then again not much of an opinion as it seems, almost completely dismissed recording I [thought] like a lot (Markevitch).

Are voters maybe bit too much demanding of sound quality, if only one mono recording made it to second round? Personally I tried to disregard it as much as possible (voted for G2 even though hated the sound)

DavidW

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #52 on: May 21, 2012, 09:46:32 AM »
Are voters maybe bit too much demanding of sound quality, if only one mono recording made it to second round? Personally I tried to disregard it as much as possible (voted for G2 even though hated the sound)

I was in group A but I wanted to chime in that I listen through pc speakers so that I don't much notice or care about sound quality.  They are sufficient to judge performance choices but not good enough speakers to appreciate differences in sound quality.

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #53 on: May 21, 2012, 09:48:13 AM »
How many manage to clock it at 8? Off top of my head I can think of only one.

Interesting results of first the round. I'm now especially curious about group E, two recordings that flat out eliminated Desormiere and Munch, both more than very fine in my opinion.

But then again not much of an opinion as it seems, almost completely dismissed recording I [thought] like a lot (Markevitch).

Are voters maybe bit too much demanding of sound quality, if only one mono recording made it to second round? Personally I tried to disregard it as much as possible (voted for G2 even though hated the sound)

It depends, in the past many mono recordings made it to the final round in some comparisons. Some voters take in into account more than others, but I don't think anyone judges only on this criterium. But maybe people allow more importance to sound quality in La Mer than in Schumann's 4th or in Tod und Verklärung, for instance. In any case it will be interesting to watch D1 in the second round.

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #54 on: May 21, 2012, 09:55:30 AM »
Are voters maybe bit too much demanding of sound quality, if only one mono recording made it to second round? Personally I tried to disregard it as much as possible (voted for G2 even though hated the sound)
Perhaps. I don't look at this exercise as which is the best version to buy, but rather which is the best executed performance. Poor sound can be hard on us, because it might hide details of the performance, but I try to let the performance take priority regardless of the sound. The Schumann, for example, had more recordings that were older. Because of the nature of Debussy, it may put older recordings at more of a disadvantage.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #55 on: May 22, 2012, 09:30:32 AM »
Perhaps. I don't look at this exercise as which is the best version to buy, but rather which is the best executed performance. Poor sound can be hard on us, because it might hide details of the performance, but I try to let the performance take priority regardless of the sound. The Schumann, for example, had more recordings that were older. Because of the nature of Debussy, it may put older recordings at more of a disadvantage.

You're certainly right. The older versions I selected were in my opinion essential. Still, they didn't make it because of the sound quality, and it is true that, whatever their qualities are, I'd probably not listen to them as frequently as more modern versions, even if I don't really prefer the interpretation. La Mer is a piece you can listen to in an impersonal interpretation, more than Schumann's 4th for instance.
Coppola and Koussevitzky are among my favourites of La Mer but I probably won't listen to them when I wake up and think "I'd like to hear La Mer today" ; I'll prefer something a little more pretty acoustically.

Changing subject, you should have received your groups by now. Of course just ask if you want to listen another one too, or even all 5 of them.

And, finally, anyone can join the comparison at any moment ! Don't hesitate, please, we need your opinion :)

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #56 on: May 22, 2012, 09:39:30 AM »
About the deadline, votes will end on the evening of June 3, midnight CEST/UTC+2

http://www.timeanddate.com/counters/fullscreen.html?mode=a&year=2012&month=6&day=4&p0=195

Offline Opus106

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Regards,
Navneeth

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #58 on: May 28, 2012, 11:58:12 PM »
Here are my comments for Groupe de Jersey (a really fascinating group):

What an intriguing draw. E1 is flat out gorgeous in sound. It is seductive. H1 is not, but the tension in that one is much higher (though there is also a harshness to it).  A2 has the best of both and elements of both, which makes the impact resonate well. So which should it be: seductive and big (E1), more mysterious with lots of tension and playful (H1), or balance, expressiveness and a little of everything (A2)? This is a simplistic way of putting it, but it seems to me the big difference here is the different approach each took. All of them had something interesting to say. But I have to pick my favorites, so here is the order I would put them:
A2
H1
E1

E1 – Meh at the start. It seems too flat-footed. It feels so much slower than the others at the start. But then when the waves come, there is a serious jump up in quality.  Gorgeous flutes and woodwinds (really superb phrasing).  I don’t respond as well to the strings or brass here, but the tuttis are pretty powerful. I cannot recall a performance of any piece where I responded to one section of an orchestra, but not the others to such a degree. The second clip is very playful. Quality of the recording is fine too, which is helping it sound better than I think it is. In fact, on second listen, this was a real disappointment – the beauty stays on the surface, but I fear people may be seduced by that.  Ranking: 3

H1 – A better start, where everything is sharper. This one has more mystery to it at the beginning. But I found the transition to the waves a bit weak.  Where the E1 flute was simply beauty personified, this one strikes me as more ethereal and floating above the waves. What an interesting contrast! Build ups to the tuttis are what grab one here. Cellos are fine.  There is more tension in this version and though the resolution is not as earth-shattering as E1, the effect is in many ways stronger. Clip 2 is more flighty than playful and I think it works quite well. Great impact, though harsh sometimes. I loved clip 2 here much better than E1. Ranking: 2

A2 – Good tension to start. This one gives me more highs and lows in the first clip (sway). This flute is earth bound wishing it could soar (it’s how it strikes me).  One feels the whole orchestra is in the moment at all times. Good balance here, one senses wind and obstacles in addition to the waves.  When the big peaks come here, I am swept along. It (clip 1) has everything: grandeur, beauty, mystery, and more. Clip 2 has the beauty I loved in E1 along with the flightiness/playfulness of both, but it is even more impressionistic than the others. This one has no less tension than H1, but allows it to release more effectively. Ranking: 1
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #59 on: May 29, 2012, 01:46:25 AM »
Thanks, very interesting ! About this group...

... there are already 7 votes (but 5 more expected) and things are really close, it is difficult to imagine what will happen exactly. Actually each version is someone's favourite. E1 is a little ahead, but H1 and even A2 (which was only second of its group and sharply criticized by some in the first round) could still qualify for the final round.
Anyway I predict there will be some surprises in this group...


mc ukrneal, do you wish to try another group before the end of 2nd round, next Sunday ?