Author Topic: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I  (Read 1361 times)

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Offline Cato

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2020, 09:23:21 AM »
They're all good recordings.  There's only one of the 12 that I would describe as less than 'very good'.

Thanks Cato - that was quick!  Let me know if you want me to send you another group in the same way.

Yes, those basses are important aren't they?  I never really realised how much until listening closely to several of these samples.


I'm off now to watch/listen to bits of this, that Mahlerian mentioned in the WAYL2N thread.  I love watching Boulez conduct!


Yes, please send B and C in the same way!

And yes again, the basses lend much to the Nachtmusik atmosphere.

Around 2010, maybe early 2011, I happened to catch part of a broadcast concert from the Chicago Symphony with Pierre Boulez conducting Mahler's Symphony #7.  It was just as good as the DGG performance with him and the Cleveland Orchestra.  Boulez brought out how Mahler was creating the future paths for composers e.g. Webern.  And I choose Webern specifically because, in the Scherzo especially, I had an impression that I was possibly listening to an unknown work by Webern.  Look at score e.g. the opening pages, or the part where Boulez really found the future path of Webern, Cue 148, right after the Tuba glissando and the fff Bb on the timpani.

Such music also points the way to the Ninth Symphony
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Offline Cato

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2020, 10:01:17 AM »


Around 2010, maybe early 2011, I happened to catch part of a broadcast concert from the Chicago Symphony with Pierre Boulez conducting Mahler's Symphony #7.  It was just as good as the DGG performance with him and the Cleveland Orchestra.
 

I have checked the Chicago Symphony website, but so far this performance has not been released.

Some of you may already know that Bruno Walter refused to conduct the Seventh, calling it "weak."   Possibly he did not like the brash, dark, mosaic quality of the work.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2020, 12:33:41 PM »
C2 - no hiding place!  >:D

I should recuse myself...it's a long time favorite. Not sure I can be objective  ;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"

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2020, 04:34:56 PM »
This should be fun. I usually spend more time listening to other sections, but this has a lot going on, so could be some unexpected results….

A1: Wonderful dynamic and dramatic contrasts. Very well played, perhaps lacking a bit of darkness at times, but the mix of martial and pastoral is well done. Transitions feel very natural, a real achievement in this movement.
A2: Warmer sounding brass. More ominous sounding and less sunny than A1, where the pastoral stands out more strongly. This is a subtler approach, which I prefer. Darkness and lightness is much better caught here. Brass not quite the level of A1 (technically).
A3: Some moments seem to lack the same ebb and flow of A1 and A2. Certain instruments overwhelm at times, perhaps a recording issue due to being live? Just not as interesting as A1 or A2 as it seems to miss the great contrast of dark and light in A2 and the pastoral feel in A1. Still, it’s not bad, just not as good.
A4: Slower start, and some pitch issues. Brighter sounding, so more similar to A1. A bit too stop and start for my tastes in its approach to the drama. I prefer the sounds of the woodwinds here.

My preference here is A2 followed by A1. They are all more similar than they are different though. I think A2 hits the balance of all the elements best of all.

B1: Like the approach, but there are some pitchy moments as well as a bit too much of pushing the tempo in the opening. Still, lovely playing and quite dramatic. Didn’t like the sound produced here as much, but the march and the darkness of it contrast nicely.
B2: Nice opening, but the cowbells are quite distant and at times disappear. Overall, the pastoral elements are not highlighted/contrasted enough, but some good playing nonetheless.
B3: Cowbells audible here. Just don’t like some of the sound produced, though a quite unified approach and good details heard throughout.
B4: Inexact pitch at the opening. Not as dark as it could be in terms of contrast – a bit too consistently sunny I think. Still, well done.

Of the B group, it’s really difficult to pick a standout, so I won’t. Just think they all have positives and negatives and quite balanced in that sense. If pressed, I guess I’d go with B1, but not really feeling strong about this one.

C1: Crisp, but cowbells aren’t all that audible. Well shaped and executed. Pastoral quality is a bit muted, and so is the darkness of it. But really well played for the most part.
C2: The only one so far that has a different tempo. The cowbells seem almost too fast in contrast. Control of the playing is pretty impressive. Overall I liked it. I can see why it splits opinion, but I feel it holds together – the orchestra have clearly bought in.
C3: Cowbells have a strangely mystical quality to them (softer and less clangy). Well played, though sometimes I feel certain details are emphasized in a way that obscures others. I like the overall forward thrust of this one.
C4: Good. The woodwind sometimes seem so far forward that they cover up everything else.

In this group, it’s C1 and C3 that vie for the top spot for me. I think C2 just needs to be put to the side and judged separately, because it’s just so different. That said, I couldn’t turn away from it. The C group is overall quite strong.

Overall? That’s a tough one as it’s a pretty strong group of performances overall. A2, C1 and C3 would be the choices with A2 likely being tops. Still, I think C2 needs to be heard at least once.

Thanks to aukhawk for putting this together and selecting an unusual section to ‘slice and dice’. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2020, 04:19:47 AM »
( C2 ) I should recuse myself...it's a long time favorite. Not sure I can be objective  ;D
Sarge

Me too !!  :-X

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2020, 05:25:30 AM »
C1 Too fast in the beginning, like it's skipping along with a too soft texture.

C2 My favorite. I like the insanely slow pace (this is surely no allegro), the great detail and prominent cowbells: you are right there in the meadow with the cows rather than hearing them from a distance, unseen on a foggy evening...which is nice too of course, and perhaps closer to what Mahler intended. Nevertheless, I love this radical, pointillistic interpretation.

C3 A good schmaltzy "tango" ...could use more cowbell but overall I liked this one.

C4 Another skipping march at the beginning but I prefer this one to C1. Beautiful recording. My second favorite.

So:

C2
C4
C3
C1
« Last Edit: July 12, 2020, 08:11:30 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: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2020, 05:50:13 AM »
B1 The opposite of C2. Too fast...but surprisingly I like it...at least within this group.

B2 Soft textured, dynamically soft too. lacking in some detail. I had to strain my ears to hear cowbells. They must be pastured in the next county.

B3 Good middle of the road interpretation. Nothing really stood out for me.

B4 The best in this group. Perfectly paced throughout.

Ranked thusly:

B4
B1
B3
B2
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 aukhawk

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2020, 06:04:36 AM »
Thanks, mc ukrneal and sarge, some really interesting comments there.

Does anybody else want to join in having read these?  Rollup, roll up!  The files are still available for download (in message #1) and each 'group' of 4 takes about 20 mins in total.

Overall? That’s a tough one as it’s a pretty strong group of performances overall. A2, C1 and C3 would be the choices with A2 likely being tops. Still, I think C2 needs to be heard at least once.

On that basis, I'll award A2 a bonus point.
If anyone else who has listened to all three groups wants to nominate a 'best of all 3 groups' I'll do the same - 2 bonus points for a strong nomination and 1 point for a more tentative choice (like above).

I'm off to do some totting-up now ... back soon ...

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2020, 06:28:00 AM »

On that basis, I'll award A2 a bonus point.
If anyone else who has listened to all three groups wants to nominate a 'best of all 3 groups' I'll do the same - 2 bonus points for a strong nomination and 1 point for a more tentative choice (like above).

Best of all 3 groups: C2 (of course  8) ).

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"

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2020, 06:32:10 AM »
If anyone else who has listened to all three groups wants to nominate a 'best of all 3 groups' I'll do the same - 2 bonus points for a strong nomination and 1 point for a more tentative choice (like above).

Could I award one point each to C4 and B4? If not, two points to B4.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline aukhawk

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2020, 06:46:49 AM »
Both strong contenders by my reckoning +1 each.  And 2 points to K C2 - why not, gives him a lift, but never going to be enough  >:D

Well we have a clear leader and - although I await more input - it looks likely 2 or 3 clear contenders for runner-up.  And a fascinating and really diverse group they are too.

Would we be interested in a 2nd/final round of 3 or 4, based on the Scherzo ?  Or shall we just leave it here, wait for a few more listeners, then reveal?

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2020, 07:01:25 AM »
C2 - why not, gives him a lift, but never going to be enough  >:D

I knew I was throwing my vote away but I could not do otherwise. By the way, B4 is my runner-up, so Mahlerian and I finally agree about something  ;D

Would we be interested in a 2nd/final round of 3 or 4, based on the Scherzo ?  Or shall we just leave it here, wait for a few more listeners, then reveal?

I'm in if you want to have a final round although I'm equally curious and nervous about the reveal. I always fear trashing a few of my favorites in these blind tests.

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"

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2020, 07:09:21 AM »
I knew I was throwing my vote away but I could not do otherwise. By the way, B4 is my runner-up, so Mahlerian and I finally agree about something  ;D

It was bound to happen eventually!  :laugh:
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Cato

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2020, 07:55:04 AM »
Okay, B Group!

B1 - A brisk, crisp pace!  The harpist slightly misses the beat in a few bars.  However, the clarinet counterpoint is quite nice in Cue 87 ff.  I believe the atmosphere of the "night-time" is lost, however, because of the faster baton.

B2 - Back to a slower, eerier atmosphere: the string triplets in Cues 85 and 86 are brought out nicely, as they should be, a rumbling unconscious struggling to unleash itself.  Unfortunately, when taken up by the clarinets, this unconscious almost disappears.  Otherwise, not bad.

B3 - Okay, some rubato in the opening bars, and then a somewhat faster pace.  Cowbells are not distant enough, and the tam-tam is almost inaudible.  One of the oboes is off-key just slightly in the crucial part of Cue 89.  And what is that clicking on p. 152 of the score, right before the climax at the end of Cue 91?  The strings (not the basses) are supposed to be pizzicato, not col legno.  Since no one else mentioned it, I will assume it is Internet noise from the download.  In general, not bad, but too fast for my taste.

B4 - Back to a slower, more mysterious atmosphere: cowbell sound is just right.  And the triplets mentioned in B2 are also done nicely.  And this time the "clicking" on p. 152 of the score, right before the climax at the end of Cue 91, seems to be a tambourine!  Is there a another version with a tambourine at that part?  Or is this Leopold conducting and tinkering?    ;) 8)   Otherwise, much more dramatic performance!

I still like A2!!!   8)


B4

B3

B2

B1


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Offline aukhawk

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2020, 09:00:47 AM »
And what is that clicking on p. 152 of the score, right before the climax at the end of Cue 91? 
...
  And this time the "clicking" on p. 152 of the score, right before the climax at the end of Cue 91, seems to be a tambourine!  Is there a another version with a tambourine at that part?

Thanks Cato !

(Note to self, must get hold of a score ... ) isn't that a percussion effect that is drowned out in many recordings?  I've seen on videos a percussionist hitting the casing of a drum with what looks like an oversized egg-whisk - is it that bit?
« Last Edit: July 12, 2020, 09:35:31 AM by aukhawk »

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2020, 09:03:52 AM »
Thanks Cato !

(Note to self, must get hold of a score ... ) isn't that a percussion effect that is drowned out in many recordings?  I've seen on videos a perussionist hitting the casing of a drum with what looks like an oversized egg-whisk - is it that bit?

My Eulenberg score (edited by Redlich) doesn't have any percussion marked at that crescendo, but I know that Mahler frequently made small changes to orchestration in rehearsals that some editions will incorporate and others won't. Performances these days will probably use the more recent critical edition score. Most recordings I've heard have a Rute, which is what you're describing.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Cato

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2020, 09:15:05 AM »
My Eulenberg score (edited by Redlich) doesn't have any percussion marked at that crescendo, but I know that Mahler frequently made small changes to orchestration in rehearsals that some editions will incorporate and others won't. Performances these days will probably use the more recent critical edition score. Most recordings I've heard have a Rute, which is what you're describing.

I thought of that possibility, but what I heard seemed to be clicking.  I have the same score and yes, nothing is indicated.  My DGG Boulez/Cleveland CD has no percussion at that point.

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline Cato

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #37 on: July 13, 2020, 03:06:48 AM »
And now for the C Group!

C1 - A little speedy, but not too brisk.  Dynamics are maybe a little flattened out.  Otherwise, nicely done, with expressive playing, especially from the 2 solo cellists in Cue 92.  The Nachtmusik atmosphere is not particularly strong: the emphasis is more on the dance-like qualities.

And now, the (in)famous   8)   C2    8)! - Okay, is this the Celibidache version?   Gemächlich takes on a whole new meaning!  :D   And a Rute is certainly added at the climax on p. 152 of the Eulenburg score.  Okay, and now we go from Largo to Molto Largo!   But...does it work?  I do like slowing things down a bit, aber es gibt Grenzen!   ;)  The playing is excellent, although the microphone is a little too close at times: you can hear the fingers hit the keys on the solo flute in soft passages.  The big Brucknerian build-up at Cue 91 is done well, and there is an accelerando on the 1st bar of p. 152.

C3 - The opening of the section is nicely done, and the speed is gemächlich for sure.  The basses are brought out, as are e.g. the triplets in the clarinets: those could be the emphasized details mentioned earlier by Mc Ukrneal.  An unusual, "nightly" atmosphere can be detected most of the time.

C4 - Here the march-like opening sounds rather devil-may-care at first, but then things become more ominous.  The climax is well-done and the section afterward also, great interpretation by the flute-player of the Fluechtig instruction.  The Tuba is played perfectly!


Mc Ukrneal mentioned that the C group is strong, which makes ranking difficult.

C4/C3   ???   :D

C2  (Is that okay, Sarge?   ;)   )

C1

I still like A2!

And...

Yes, please include a Scherzo excerpt!  Might I suggest Cue 148, about halfway through, after the Tuba glissando and the fff Bb on the Timpani, followed by a general pause, and the music seems to start from the beginning?
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #38 on: July 13, 2020, 04:30:00 AM »
C4/C3   ???   :D

C2  (Is that okay, Sarge?   ;)   )

C1

I still like A2!

Yeah, okay. It's not dead last so I'm content  ;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"

Offline aukhawk

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Re: mini-blind comparison - Mahler Symphony 7 Nachtmusik I
« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2020, 04:41:53 AM »
It certainly isn't.  In fact by my (biased??) reckoning it's done rather well, but without threatening the top 3 of course.

Thanks again Cato - I had to Google-translate Grenzen but I think I got the gist  ;D

Hey, Jo498 - have you got a spanner to toss into the works?  :)  You said you'd listened to group A - and it certainly isn't compulsory to listen to all three groups - so have you got any notes to add, it'd be really good to hear what you've got?

As things stand, on a general scale of scoring 5 for 'best in group' that means a theoretical max score of 20, and on that scale I'd reckon anyone scoring 15 or more would be pretty good.
So far, only one candidate scores less than 12.  Six candidates are in the 12-14 range.  That leaves 5 who have done well, scoring 15, 16, 18, 19.5 and ... 20.5