Author Topic: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa  (Read 8676 times)

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Discobole

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Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« on: June 07, 2012, 12:02:07 PM »
I thought maybe it would interest different people than the listening on La Mer, so I start it already.

This piece of music, from the Book 8 of Madrigals (the last one) is one of the most astonishing pieces of music I know.

Method used is the same as in the Bach comparisons I did : 14 versions to listen, and you nominate your favorites and least favoured among all of them. Single round, then. The comparison will last until June 22 or later if needed (well after the end of the comparisons on La Mer and Mahler 6 then, in case this worries some of you).

You can start to register, I'll send links tomorrow ;)

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 12:05:08 PM »
I thought maybe it would interest different people than the listening on La Mer, so I start it already.

This piece of music, from the Book 8 of Madrigals (the last one) is one of the most astonishing pieces of music I know.

Method used is the same as in the Bach comparisons I did : 14 versions to listen, and you nominate your favorites and least favoured among all of them. Single round, then. The comparison will last until June 22 or later if needed (well after the end of the comparisons on La Mer and Mahler 6 then, in case this worries some of you).

You can start to register, I'll send links tomorrow ;)
Ah! I am a blind listening junkie!  It will be hard to fit all three in, but I would be game.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Drasko

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 12:37:42 AM »
I'd love to hear 14 versions of Lamento, but I'm not sure if I'm able to offer any half coherent opinion and to actually rank them. My knowledge on voices and singing techniques doesn't go far beyond - me like, me no like.
But send them anyhow.

edit: On second thought don't send me the links. There is just no way I can find the time.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 01:04:24 AM by Drasko »

Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 06:45:47 AM »
OK, so, for the moment, mc ukrneal is the only listener here :o . Don't hesitate if you want to join, at least to defend the honor of GMG 8)

Offline zauberflöte

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 01:14:07 PM »
I love Monteverdi so I'll join in.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 01:17:02 PM »
Gosh, is GMG's honor at stake?
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
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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

Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2012, 02:35:56 PM »
Gosh, is GMG's honor at stake?

If it can help to decide you to join : yes it is  ;D

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2012, 02:13:39 AM »
Monteverdi Blind Listening…

What a choice! Some fantastic versions here. But the ordering of favorites was difficult, precisely because they are all so different (and that surprised me). #4 was the hardest. The soprano part demands to be listened to.  Demands it! And she takes the most liberties with phrasing and tempo, but this is how it should be! She creates tremendous impact. Part of it is that this version is also slower, which gives her more opportunities to do something. I’m not sure how I will enjoy it over time (though I loved it), but I chose it precisely because it goes way, way out on the limb…and succeeds. After that, I enjoyed #1, #2, 7, 11, and 13 (not in order). #1 was vying for the top place. I loved that one too. It had a great sound and created great impact. This would be a safer choice. #7 and #11 also had darker voice, which I thought more effective. These came next. #13 was my final choice for the top five. It was great for a version with a lighter voice, though perhaps a bit monotone at times. I liked #2, but it ultimately did not make the top 5.

So my final order of favorites is:  #4, #1, #7, #11, #13

Least favorites were #6, #3, and #14 (in that order). I rather liked 00 as a whole, even though the sound was totally different.

The Versions:
00: Ok, this won’t win, but what an interesting version: more vibrato and totally different in approach and sound. Soprano is nicely darker and really shapes the line well, especially in its interaction from the males.  Assessment: Good.

01: Very nice start and middle of the road stylistically. Transparent sound. This version has much beauty, though the soprano is not my ideal. Good balance of voices.   Assessment: Good.

02: Harmonies (and disharmonies) are deliciously highlighted here. A heavier sounding voice palette.  She is better integrated with the male voices.  Great sound here, but the song itself seems less important than the sound. I am not a fan of this soprano.  Dynamics are more static. Assessment: Good.

03: More rounded sound. Balance doesn’t seem as good to me. Irritating soprano, who seems more declamatory in style.  Assessment: Meh.

04: Softer sound. Duller impact to start. Too much stop and go at the beginning. Soprano is haunting/dark. Ooh, she gives me goose bumps. And this middle section has good rise and fall (creates some wonderfully powerful moments).  As long as she was singing, they could go as slow as they wanted as far as I was concerned. Phrasing and tempi were exquisite. I liked that she used a mix of no vibrato and vibrato (meaning she would initially not use any vibrato, but then throw it in at the end almost like an ornamentation). Not for the faint of heart. (oh my, am I turning into Sarge?!?!? This one is a full 2 minutes longer than the next one!) Assessment: Good.   

05: Different start with instrumental beginning. The males here have some occasional vibrato, which is different than many.  The soprano – meh. Assessment: Ok.

06: Good start from the male singers. Soprano has more of a stage approach, and a bit declamatory in style in some moments. Sometimes she doesn’t stand out at all (meaning not heart wrenching at all), which seems counter to the purpose of the song, despite some dark moments.  Assessment: Meh.

07: Good start, though some occasional out of tune moments at the start, which reduces impact both in harmonies and disharmonies.   Soprano sings well indeed and is powerful (too much so?).  One’s attention is held by her. The men really have some gorgeous moments as they blend with her.  Assessment: Good.

08: Different aural world. Higher in pitch? Reverb doesn’t help and is not needed. The soprano is without vibrato, which does add some heart break and she reminds me of the famous aria from Orfeo.  Nicely dark. But I felt the men were too blasé. Assessment: ok.

09: Different instrument (organ or something like it) creates totally different impact! But I prefer the lighter ones. The singing is engaging. When they change instruments with the entrance of the soprano, it is quite engaging.  Much more operatic impact though.  Assessment:  Ok.

10: Yet another different approach! This is almost joyous, which while attractive, is not really what this is about. Interesting how this beginning starts, but doesn’t really segue well into the soprano part, which is darker and more mournful. Perhaps some will enjoy the contrast. Soprano highlights the darker harmonies very well. Assessment: Ok.

11: Stronger bass here. Start is good. A bit heavy on reverb, but I enjoyed the male singers. Soprano is dark. She starts her vibrato later (meaning she holds the note without vibrato longer than most), which I like, because it helps emphasize the dissonance. Assessment: Good.

12:   Another different start. No instruments at all! Interesting, but I prefer with something. Singing is pretty good though. Instruments enter after the slower beginning section. Soprano is ok, but just not my taste here in terms of style. Lacks something (phrasing too straight forward perhaps). Assessment: ok

13: Warmer, softer start. Second portion of males singing is quite engaging. Soprano has a good sound, definitely trying to focus on the darker moments, though beautiful.  There is a lightness to it.  Assessment: Good.

14: Beautiful start. They make the dissonance beautiful too, which is unexpected. Soprano sings such a mournful ‘amour’, but is ultimately too uneven. She tries to float, but she seems to fight her voice to do it, which results in a certain tension.  Assessment: meh
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2012, 02:23:53 AM »
For those of you who are considering this one, but have not yet stepped forward, I highly recommend participating. I never expected to hear so many differences. There are differences in instruments (as well as when and how they play), voices (each soprano was unique and made different choices in how to sing it, not to mention the trio of men), and all the combinations of the various factors (adding to those already mentioned: tempo, phrasing, changes in volume, etc). What's more, the piece is so beautiful. This listening exercise really opened my eyes.

Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2012, 09:29:07 AM »
For those of you who are considering this one, but have not yet stepped forward, I highly recommend participating. I never expected to hear so many differences. There are differences in instruments (as well as when and how they play), voices (each soprano was unique and made different choices in how to sing it, not to mention the trio of men), and all the combinations of the various factors (adding to those already mentioned: tempo, phrasing, changes in volume, etc). What's more, the piece is so beautiful. This listening exercise really opened my eyes.

Your words, Neal, and my interest to finally hear some Monteverdi have persuaded me. Ok, I'll take part too please, Julien! :)

I am not sure if I know any Monteverdi at all, so this should be a nice experience and a good introduction. And I just love a good Blind Comparison!

I'm no expert on music of this kind, so probably won't be able to say much, especially not as much as I did do/am doing for the Debussy, but will just give my honest opinion on which performances recieve the most emotional response from me.

Looking forward to it! :)
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 09:31:15 AM by madaboutmahler »
"Music is ... A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy"
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Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2012, 02:36:21 PM »
@mc ukrneal : about your least favourites, when you say "in that order", do you mean beginning from the end or from the least least favourite ?  :-\

@madaboutmahler : great news 8)

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2012, 08:45:48 PM »
@mc ukrneal : about your least favourites, when you say "in that order", do you mean beginning from the end or from the least least favourite ?  :-\

Sorry for the lack of clarity. I started with the one I liked least. And as you may have noticed, I really enjoyed this one. Thank you!
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Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2012, 01:09:53 AM »
Thanks, all is very clear now, and thanks for your detailed comments by the way, very interesting !

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2012, 11:45:03 AM »
@madaboutmahler : great news 8)

:) Have just recieved the links now, thank you very much, Julien! :)
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Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2012, 12:20:05 PM »
Half of the votes have been delivered already, and the comparison is planned to finish tomorrow evening, in a little more than 24 hours now... Madaboutmahler, don't forget to vote ;)

For now there are already some very clear and frankly astonishing tendencies in the general ranking !

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2012, 12:48:38 PM »
Half of the votes have been delivered already, and the comparison is planned to finish tomorrow evening, in a little more than 24 hours now... Madaboutmahler, don't forget to vote ;)


Oh gosh... forgot about this...  :-[
I am really busy at the moment, and will not really have too much spare time until Monday... can you wait this long? I do apologize! I can try and fit it in earlier, if I do it in fragments...
"Music is ... A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy"
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Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2012, 01:35:50 PM »
Well, I could wait a little more but monday is a little late... I'll see how the others do, and tell you tomorrow if I give more time or not ;)

Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2012, 03:30:53 PM »
Results

OK I see that you're the only voter left, madaboutmahler, so, I hope you won't mind, but I prefer to publish the results now...

Here is the final ranking (beginning with the end). But first, the version 00 which was not in the game and just here as a (wonderful) document...

00 - Nadia Boulanger (INA)
Ninfa : Comtesse Jean de Polignac



Discobole

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2012, 03:43:59 PM »
14th. 14 - Gustav Leonhardt (Seon, 1979)
Ninfa : Marianne Kweksilber

Average ranking : 10,39

Not that surprising. Anyway, I find the intimist ways of this version quite charming, in the end.



13th. 03. Concerto Italiano, Alessandrini (Opus 111/Naïve)
Ninfa : Rossana Bertini

Average ranking : 10,22

This is a big surprise ! And I love this version !



12th. 10. Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec/DAW, 1984)
Ninfa : Ann Murray

Average ranking : 10

The acoustics are really a problem here, the woman sounds very far away, then this version didn't have a chance...

11th. 08. Cantus Cölln, Konrad Junghänel (DHM, 1993)
Ninfa : Johanna Koslowsky

Average ranking : 9,67





10th. 04. La Venexiana, Claudio Cavina (Glossa, 2004 ou 2005)
Ninfa : Roberta Mameli (?)

Average ranking : 9,28

Probably the worst to my taste. This is just not serious, the Ninfa is sung in a pop-world music-new age, quite ridiculous.



9th. 06. Il Complesso barocco, Alan Curtis (Virgin Veritas, 1998)
Ninfa : ?

Average ranking : 8,67



8th. 07 - Concerto Vocale, René Jacobs (HM, 2000)
Ninfa : Bernarda Fink

Average ranking : 8,06



7th. 12 - Les Arts florissants, William Christie (HM, 1981)
Ninfa : Guillemette Laurens

Average ranking : 7,57

One of my favourite versions, certainly a little oldish (the acoustics could be better) but I like its clarity and simple eloquence.



6th. 01 - The Netherlands Bach Society & Cappella Figuralis, Jos van Veldhoven (Channel Classics, 2002)
Ninfa : Johanette Zomer

Average ranking : 7,33

Not the worst sung and played, but maybe the dullest one...



5th. 11 - Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre (Alpha, 2009)
Ninfa : Claire Lefilliâtre

Average ranking : 7,22



4th. 13 - The Consort of Musicke, Anthony Rooley (Virgin, 1990)
Ninfa : Emma Kirkby

Average ranking : 5,39



3rd. 05 - La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Jordi Savall (Astrée/Alia Vox, 9/1994)
Ninfa : Montserrat Figueras[/b][/size]
Average ranking : 4,11

Certainly deserved. So touching and beautiful, even if it lacks a little drama, it has this sense of free rhythm which is required by Monteverdi on the score.



2nd. 02 - Tragicomedia, Stephen Stubbs (Teldec/DAW, 1993)
Ninfa : Viveca Axell

Average ranking : 4,06 (other method : 3)

Probably my own favourite, I'm happy it finishes second ! A great monteverdian recording, a little forgotten alas.



1st. 09 - Akadêmia, Françoise Lasserre (Zig Zag, 2005)
Ninfa : Guillemette Laurens

Average ranking : 4,06 (other method : 2,89)

I don't really agree (why the organ at the continuo ? and why such a hysterical Ninfa ?) but why not. Sung as an opera aria from the 18th century more than a Monteverdi madrigal, but it finishes so well ahead that I might have to reconsider...

« Last Edit: June 23, 2012, 04:07:14 PM by Discobole »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Blind comparison : Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2012, 10:49:44 PM »
Results

OK I see that you're the only voter left, madaboutmahler, so, I hope you won't mind, but I prefer to publish the results now...

Here is the final ranking (beginning with the end). But first, the version 00 which was not in the game and just here as a (wonderful) document...

00 - Nadia Boulanger (INA)
Ninfa : Comtesse Jean de Polignac



I rather enjoyed this one. I hope those on the other sites were just as positive.

But I am not surprised that #4 was not so popular. I knew when I picked it that some would probably put it at the end. The thing is, I felt this was the only one where the freer sense of rhythm was conistently evident (where the soprano sings). And it was one of the few that I did not get tired of. As I wrote, I don't know what my reaction might be over time, but it seems an ideal supplement to me. Was I the only one to put it in the top 5?

Be kind to your fellow posters!!