Author Topic: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer  (Read 46261 times)

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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #60 on: May 29, 2012, 02:44:17 AM »

mc ukrneal, do you wish to try another group before the end of 2nd round, next Sunday ?
Hmm. It is tempting. If there is one that needs an additional vote, you could send it my way.

As to the results so far: That E1 is winning really boggles my mind a bit. I could accept H1, but E1 does not wear well for me. And I was struggling to understand what others see in it beyond the great sound. It may be as I feared then
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #61 on: May 29, 2012, 03:09:14 AM »
I personally really prefer E1 to H1 (A2 is a different story). I don't know what I would have voted but H1 would have been last, despite its technical quality. I find this reading really too soft, emptying the score from all its tension and violence. I'd call this interpretation optimistic, and La Mer is not particularly optimistic...

I send to you the Eastbourne group (in which Brian and Drasko are voting too), it's one voter behind others.

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #62 on: May 29, 2012, 03:30:01 AM »
I send to you the Eastbourne group (in which Brian and Drasko are voting too), it's one voter behind others.
Ok. I like that it will be three versions I have not yet heard - It will be a totally fresh opinion.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #63 on: May 30, 2012, 12:24:36 AM »
Here are my comments for Groupe d’Eastbourne:

Again, I fear that the beauty of the sound from the first version (C3) will simply seduce people to the dark side! :) C3 was barely acceptable in terms of interpretation though.  B4 was fine in the first clip, but outstanding in the second. I was really bowled over by it. G2 seems to be lacking as well, but I think it edged out C3. So my ranking:
B4
G2
C3

C3 – A bit dry start – not much mystery. Hmmm. This one seems flat to me or subdued. There is no sense of awakening. As it moves on, it seems to improve somewhat, but I cannot quite put my finger on the issue. To think this was a clear winner in its group. It does have a nice ending (clip 1), but I thought otherwise quite dull. There was no nuance or subtlety, no pixie dust. The second clip is better, but again I am struggling to stay engaged. This is a first for me in this piece. Toward the end of clip, things got a bit more interesting. I think it simply does not portray the sea/waves well and this feeling for me is lost. Disappointing. Ranking: 3

B4 –  I was starting to think I might be in the wrong mood, but this one has already what I think the other lacked – a sense of rocking/sway, mystery/tension in the piece.  It could have even more tension and flow, but overall ok. The flute sings nicely in its solo. Some imprecision in entrances hurts, especially when the cellos come in, though the spell is quickly re-established.  Edgier second clip, probably because of how fast it is taken, which I rather liked. It creates more contrast, which I think is a positive for La Mer. One of the most successful second movements I’ve heard in terms of making an impact (though not necessarily my favorite). This is the only version in Eastbourne that left me wanting to hear more. Ranking: 1

G2 – Also a rather subdued start. Some sweetness and longing at times, but lacks some of the impressionistic feel the piece needs (and missing the rock/sway it needs), but it does create some impressionable peaks on the highs.  Also some great beauty towards the end of clip 1.  The second clip has a sense of flightiness, but creates edge (tension) through the dissonances more so than some.   Ranking: 2
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #64 on: June 02, 2012, 05:08:22 AM »
Sorry for taking a while, the last couple of weeks have been particularly hectic and exhausting. School half-term break has just started now though, so I have much more time! :)
 
My votes for the Paris group:
D2 – This was one that I didn’t rate highly at all in the first part of the comparison. On listening again to the first movement of this performance, I still do not particularly like some parts of the interpretation, but am actually enjoying it more than last time. And the orchestral playing is generally excellent. The second movement is better, although in my opinion, lacks excitement, enthusiasm and the urges of desire that this movement presents. A little too relaxed in other words. However, again I must mention that the orchestra is excellent. I don’t think the conductor is really encouraging the orchestra enough though, and sometimes the balance isn’t quite perfect. Ending handled very beautifully though. Overall, not bad, but not a performance that brings out as excited a response from me that many others do! 5/10

B3 – Another recording that seems too relaxed, seeming to lack enthusiasm, and certainly lacking in excitement. Some very beautiful playing, and some gorgeous moments the opening, for example is very good. Generally the whole first half bears far better than the second half. Lots of wonderful dynamic contrast, and the tempi are generally great. But from the celli section solo, it just lacks energy, and is far too slow. Hmmm... interesting approach to the final chord... not quite sure if it worked in my opinion... Onto the second movement! From the beginning, a very fascinating approach. Very very clear articulations, maybe a little too sharp in places. Very energetic, and also exciting, but perhaps just lacking that extra bit of urge and passion that I look for this movement. 6/10

C2 – The first movement was very good indeed!  Overall, great choices of tempi, some very beautiful orchestral playing and a good control from the conductor. Not much to fault with this performance really, maybe there could have been just slightly more energy, and perhaps more dynamic contrast. Very powerful performance of the ending, very moving! Second movement now.  Very playful, I love the choice of tempo. Great playing from the orchestra, but still lacking that extra bit of urgency, desire, and energy which I believe are the main themes of this movement. This is a very good performance, and certainly the best out of the three here, just wish it had a little more excitement. 7/10

So, order of votes:
3) D2
2) B3
1) C2

Please can you send me another group as well, Discobole? Thank you! :)
"Music is ... A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy"
— Ludwig van Beethoven

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #65 on: June 02, 2012, 10:44:39 AM »
This message is just sent to remind you that the second round of this blind comparison will end tomorrow evening, Sunday, June 3, at midnight CET/UTC+2, in roughly 26 hours.
Don't forget to post your comments and your vote on your group before this time, or tell me if you need more time so that I wait for you.

I hope everyone is interested by these very diverse versions :)

Drasko

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #66 on: June 02, 2012, 01:48:42 PM »
Sorry, completely slipped my mind, but I'm sure I'll make it for tomorrow evening.

Online Brian

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #67 on: June 02, 2012, 06:43:11 PM »
Eastbourne

NB: I listened only to the second clip from each at first, using the first clip as tiebreaker. I did require a tiebreaker!

C3: I liked this quite a lot. The sound quality is really incredibly good. There are, though, moments which seem to be rather soft in focus (the first violin tune; the repeat of this material goes better) and where the pace seems to hang for a moment (4:00). The final couple minutes manage a very good slide from the frenetic climax to the peaceful ending. Happy to say 8/10.

B4: I voted for this recording's first movement last time out. And I feel vindicated because the second movement is fantastic! Love the opening pace, the woodwinds 0:55-1:00. This reading is really very exciting, partly because it's so fast, partly because there is such physical force at moments like 1:37. We are obviously dealing with a truly unique interpretation, even faster than my favorite very fast performance (EDIT: names deleted to preserve mystery!). 3:58, again so much mystery. I feel guilty liking such a speedy account, but this has such character, such exuberance, and the playing glows with a warm loving energy I find irresistible. It's probably too odd to be a first choice, but I would listen to this disc quite a lot if I owned it. 9/10

G2: Slightly more recessed sound is my very first impression. I do like the opening, though, very sharp trumpets, excellent violins at 0:50, surging motion clearly felt around 5:00, actually this is an excellent account! Three really good recordings here. I liked C3 a lot, but B4 and G2 are each truly inspired and I am sad I have to vote for only one. G2 feels in places as fast and energetic as B4, but in other places I can sense the greater diversity of feeling in this account. I rate G2 a score of 9/10 as well.

For sound quality and sheer excitement, B4 would be my first choice, but G2 strikes me as the more "complete" reading. I decided to use a tiebreaker - the first clip! Again I'm in a fix - I simply love the impressionistic brush-strokes of G2's first movement, particularly in quiet moments like 1:50-2:30, though you could argue that this feels more like a very calm lake than a sea! I also find a couple climaxes underpowered. By the end I had tired of it a little bit. Pity, because the second movement was such a delight. B4 I heard once already and gave an 8/10; my enthusiasm continues. Also, I now believe B4 to either be a live recording or a fairly old recording in unnaturally good sound. I hear quite a bit of performance noise which does not detract from the excellence. B4 wins the tiebreaker.

First choice: B4
Second choice: G2
Third choice: C3


Wow, a difficult group with two truly excellent readings!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 06:44:44 PM by Brian »

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #68 on: June 03, 2012, 05:48:55 AM »
Groupe de Jersey votes! :D

E1 – Beautiful, hushed atmosphere at the opening. A very lively feel afterwards, creating a wonderful flow. Very powerful  ending, I love the way the horns are brought out here. Excellent percussion as well. My only criticism is that this is the most ‘uneven’ performance I have heard so far, a more episodic feel to it. May not be a bad thing though. Onto the second movement, certainly very playful. I love this movement for the incredible energy and sense of urgency and desire, and I think this performance tends to be successful in getting those themes through, it is very expressive and the tempo is a good choice. Although, at the main climax of this movement, probably my favourite part of the whole work, maybe it lacks just a little extra enthusiasm, only a little. Incredibly gorgeous, extremely well handled ending to this movement. Very good overall, with lovely sound quality and it’s certainly very evocative and enjoyable. 7/10

H1 – Throughout most of the movement, the orchestra and conductor seem rather relaxed, presenting a far calmer sea through what is a very ‘nice’ performance. There’s not much wrong with it, and the climaxes are generally well done, although most of the performance lacks a little enthusiasm and tension when needed, nothing really ‘grabs’ me like some of the other performances do. Onto the second movement – Some very nice orchestral playing, well controlled, very warm, expressive. More enthusiasm and energy than the first movement, although for me, still just a little too relaxed, I tend to judge this movement on the climax towards the ending, which I have said is probably my favourite part of the whole piece, and I like to have it more ‘driven’ and the word I always use ‘urgent’. And I would have liked to have more harp as well! So, overall, a very ‘nice’ performance, just a little too relaxed. 6/10

A2 – I remember liking this one in the first round, and saying that I would be excited to hear more of the performance. And I certainly am – just re-listening to the first movement though, and I agree completely with my comments from the first round that it is a very enthusiastic, brilliant performance. Although a little messy at times, the orchestra is absolutely wonderful, giving a very enthusiastic, beautiful performance. I enjoy it very much! On from the incredibly powerful performance of the ending, onto the second movement. Very atmospheric, magical and expressive, and playful too! The climax was done very well, great energy and passion, and the layers are controlled very well. Gorgeous ending too. Overall, outstanding! 9/10

So, voting order:
3) H1
2) E1
_____________________
1) A2
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Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #69 on: June 03, 2012, 07:01:01 AM »
I'm not sure I will be able to post my comments in time for the end of the turn; if I wasn't, could I have a little extra time? I can certainly post my thoughts tomorrow afternoon.
"Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents." - Ludwig van Beethoven

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #70 on: June 03, 2012, 07:09:55 AM »
I'm not sure I will be able to post my comments in time for the end of the turn; if I wasn't, could I have a little extra time? I can certainly post my thoughts tomorrow afternoon.

OK I'll wait for your vote tomorrow ;)

Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #71 on: June 03, 2012, 07:52:33 AM »
OK I'll wait for your vote tomorrow ;)

Thank you so much :)
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Offline Opus106

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #72 on: June 03, 2012, 09:34:04 AM »
Dieppe. In the order you gave them to me: F1, H4 and E4.
Regards,
Navneeth

Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #73 on: June 03, 2012, 09:42:00 AM »
So you vote for them in this same order ?

Offline Opus106

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #74 on: June 03, 2012, 09:54:57 AM »
So you vote for them in this same order ?

Yes.
Regards,
Navneeth

Drasko

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #75 on: June 03, 2012, 11:56:39 AM »
Huh, made it, really hasty listening this time. Hopefully I'll have more time for final round. I think I recognize both C3 and B4 but tried not to let that skew the impressions (but once the idea gets into your mind it's difficult to get rid of it).

Eastbourne:

C3 - Awesome!!! Where really this one stand above is textural balance, conductor has incredible ears, even in busiest loudest climaxes everything is audible, yet for all the detail it never gets bogged down. Tempos are more or less middle of the road, flow seamlessly with tension arising from the texture rather than from pushing and pulling or exaggerating dynamics. To some it might sound bit cold but not for me. Orchestra has strong but slender sounding strings, crisp piercing trumpets, precise but somewhat nondescript horns (I like them bit more brassy), excellent winds, not that much blend across the sections (me like). Sound is clear and analytical modern, probably multimiked, maybe even with some fake reverb (violin solo).

B4 - Now this is completely opposite conception of orchestral sound, plush and huge with far more homogeneity and strings/brass blend. More outwardly dramatic reading than C3, achieved more through dynamic shifts and shear volume of the sound. Which can get really impressive, but also murky and lose some detail, for instance climax prior to cellos solo comes across as huge awash of sound, but trumpet flourish at the beginning of Jeux de vagues is pretty inarticulate ... The whole of second movement is rather too aggressively taken for my taste, forced play with little repose. Sound is very good stereo, judging by fair amount of tape hiss at the very beginning, 60s most likely.

G2 - All of my comments from first round still stand, only thing is the more I hear it the less I like it.

ranking:
1 -C3
2 - B4
3 - G2

Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #76 on: June 04, 2012, 01:49:29 AM »
What a very enchanting group, I really enjoyed listening to the recordings it contained, definitely; here's my vote for the Jersey group, thanks again for giving me some extra time, Discobole! :)

E1 - Brilliant and intense introduction, with a very clear and splendid sound quality. The whole movement is pervaded by a thrilling, evocative atmosphere and a great harmonic richness, beautifully expressed by the colourful orchestration (woodwinds and percussion are stunning). Dynamics is excellent and gives energy and passion to the piece; also the choice of the tempo and the phrasing are very good. Melodious and suggestive finale, with a gorgeous and powerful climax.
The second movement shows the same atmosphere of the first one, incredibly beautiful, playful and expressive, adding also a touch of tension and mystery; it has great energy and evocative power. The perfomance of the orchestra is superb, all the instrumentation and the themes merge brilliantly, creating a wonderful flow of music; percussion and brass are very well handled. Same speech for dynamics and tempo, whic are excellent.

H1 - The opening is bright and suggestive, and the solo of woodwind is quite melodious and intense; overall also in this performance, the orchestral playing is very beautiful, with splendid dinamics and a remarkable phrasing. The choice of the tempo is interesting: the movement sounds rather fast in the first half, whereas the rythm choosen in the other one seems to be slightly slower, especially in the final climax; thought the effect is very good. The atmosphere is less ethereal and harmonic compared to the previous recording, but it's a bit more powerful and impressive, extremely passionate.
Again, the second movement repeat the brilliant playing of the first, beautifully balanced and handled; the rythm doesn't change speed during the piece and it's rather involving. The atmosphere is tense and thrilling, but also powerful and having a great effect, enphasized by a stronger use of percussion and brass.

A2 - The performance of the orchestra is outstanding here; it sometimes doesn't sound as precise and clear as the others, but the deep passion, the huge intensity and the enthusiasm expressed perfectly counterbalace that. The opening has shows a great tension and beauty, it evokes me waves getting stronger and stronger, ready to strike you with their overhwlming energy. The final climax is absolutely gorgeous and powerful, I really liked it. Wonderful dynamics and choice of the tempo.
The second movement is very beautiful and thrilling, suggestive and mysterious; also in this part, the energy and enthusiasm expressed are very involving. The climaxes are very well played by the orchestra and are very gorgeous; the use of the glockenspiel and the harp is excellent and the solos of the woowinds are quite vibrant and melodious.

Ranking:
H1
A2
E1
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #77 on: June 04, 2012, 02:01:35 AM »
I should be able to post my vote for my third group within the next 2 hours, if you don't mind waiting? :)
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Discobole

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Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #78 on: June 04, 2012, 02:45:09 AM »
Not at all, I'll publish results in the evening.

Offline madaboutmahler

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    Mahler, Elgar, Ravel, Chopin, Schnittke, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams, Schmitt, Karlowicz, R.Strauss, Prokofiev, Shostakovich....
Re: Blind Comparison : Debussy, La Mer
« Reply #79 on: June 04, 2012, 05:31:33 AM »
Not at all, I'll publish results in the evening.

Thank you for waiting!

Votes for l'Eastbourne!

C3 – Despite the rather dull opening to the first movement, this is a rather nicely flowing performance. The orchestra is controlled extremely well in terms of balance, and there is some very expressive, beautiful playing. I particularly enjoyed the celli in their section solo. And the way the ending was handled was very good indeed, especially in the final chord. However, quite often at other places there is a lack of contrast which limits the excitement of the music. Onto the second movement! The control of the orchestra is absolutely superb, and generally this movement is done very well. My only criticism is that I would have preferred more tension and ‘weight’ at the climax; I know I am always going on about that bit in particular, but it is probably my favourite part of the whole piece! Overall, good! And, I am very impressed with this conductor! 7/10

B4 – A very enthusiastic orchestra from the very start, and they provide a very enjoyable performance. The sound, despite probably being rather old, is very warm and wonderful, though some of the details become slightly unclear, and the gong is completely inaudible at the end! The climaxes are exciting, and the choices of tempi are great. A superb dynamic contrast too! Second movement – A great sense of playfulness, full of energy! In my eyes, this is exactly how this movement should be done. The climax I am always being extra critical of when rating performances is done with extreme urgency and excitement here, exactly how I like it. Out of the 9 performances of this movement in the 3 groups I have done for this part of the comparison, this is easily my favourite. And for that, I have to give it: 10/10! Excellent!

G2 – I remember marking this very highly in the first round. It certainly is a performance full of character, and it has many nice moments. However, on listening again, I think the sound is a little dry, and there are places in need of a little more expression. I agree with my earlier comment that the orchestra clearly are very enthusiastic though. Very powerful ending though.  Second movement. I do really like the orchestra, very expressive and enthusiastic. They give this movement a very joyous interpretation, if not as exciting as the other performances.
Voting order:

3) G4
2) C3
____________
1) B4


I love this piece SO much! :) Thanks, Discobole, really enjoying this comparison.
"Music is ... A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy"
— Ludwig van Beethoven