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The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: madaboutmahler on April 12, 2012, 02:33:12 AM

Title: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 12, 2012, 02:33:12 AM
On this thread, please post your thoughts about the various recordings, and eventually your top 5 out of the 8 (which MUST be in order, 1 being your favourite).

You have until the 30th April to vote, but if you need extra time, please don't hesitate to say, as I don't mind extending the voting time if necissary.

If you have finished with your applied group, but still have time left before the deadline and wish to do more, I would be very happy to put you in another group as well. So, just say! :)

Happy Voting!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 12, 2012, 03:39:47 AM
Listened yesterday.


1. A8 I found this the most exciting recording. It had the right tempo in all the three segments (not-too-deliberate March - transition - fiery 'Alma' theme) and the amount of detail is incredible (those pizzicati!) This is a performance I want to hear in toto.


2. A4 Very deliberate. Well-played.


3. A7 Too deliberate and slow. Still - very strong.


4. A6 Slow and deliberate. The sound hasn't enough weight. Acceptable performance.


5. A2 Beautifully-played. But too stretched-out.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on April 12, 2012, 03:43:54 AM
I have given my first 'listen through', but I am going to have to give my top 4 another listen. Each had something wonderful that I want to give a fresh listen to without the others in between. I think I will listen to them in reverse order (from 4 to 1) to see whether I agree with my ranking.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on April 12, 2012, 06:24:50 AM
It will certainly be a great fun, I will listen to the excerpts this evening! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on April 12, 2012, 11:25:12 PM
Here we go with Group A.

What a fun listen. My rankings were A7, A4, A8, A3, A2. I thought A7 was the clear winner. A real stunner, despite being so incredibly slow compared to the others. I suspect this could be a bit of a rogue choice, but it consumed me is the best way I can describe it. A4, A3, and A8 could change in order on any given day. I liked all three, but none was quite as good as A7. A4 just edged out A8 – it just loved it post Alma theme. I wanted to put A3 higher as it is so different compared to the others, but based on this section I thought the others better, though I am quite interested to hear it further as well.

Comments:
A1 – Nice, though high on the upper range sounds. Not quite as much lower brass sound as I’d like. Didn’t really take off for me, though good style and not holding back. Just too fast. Rank: 8
A2 – Much fuller sound! A more sane speed than #1, yet does not lack for forward movement. Rank: 5
A3 – Fuller sounding. Faster, but a sharp intensity. Very march like. Instruments are a bit ‘blatty’. Trumpets don’t quite have the fullness some of the others have. A bit too staccato is the phrasing. In general, I like this. This one creates a completely different impact. Rank: 4
A4 – Stately almost, though the march is felt strongly. What difference compared to A3. I think I prefer the intensity there, but this has more of a drama to it that sweeps you up and makes you want it to go on. Prefer the brass sound here too. This one builds up really well and has the long view. Rank: 2
A5 – Older. I find it much harder to rank when the sound is not quite as good, more so than many other pieces. Nevertheless, this is not bad at all. Rank: 6.
A6 – I didn’t like this one as much. Not really sure why as it has a lot of good elements. Rank: 7
A7 – Wow. It’s so slow it’s going backwards! It’s really full sounding though! It gives me chills listening to it. There is a sense of inevitability here. There is a searing brilliance to it (and strength). I hope this makes it to the next round. Oh man, this one has it all. Rank: 1
A8 – A fourth really good one.  Really beautiful sweep to it. Lots of detail – a bit more transparent. Rank: 3
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 12, 2012, 11:29:44 PM
We both accord A4, A7 and A8 the three top spots, though in reverse order!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on April 13, 2012, 12:40:20 AM
We both accord A4, A7 and A8 the three top spots, though in reverse order!
Yes. I think they really were the standouts. I felt they were best at the big picture, though perhaps if we heard more, we would respond differently.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on April 13, 2012, 02:23:23 PM
A7 – Wow. It’s so slow it’s going backwards! It’s really full sounding though! It gives me chills listening to it. There is a sense of inevitability here. There is a searing brilliance to it (and strength). I hope this makes it to the next round. Oh man, this one has it all. Rank: 1


Sounds to me like you've just described ...Barbirolli.

Quote
Like a possessed Bulldog, drooling over the orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli drives the New Philharmonia to a performance somewhat the polar opposite of other Barbirolli Mahler-recordings. The sound quality is not the best (but has been improved significantly for all subsequent re-issues on CD, starting with the double forte edition) and you can hear Barbirolli grunt, huff, and puff—but that all sounds appropriate, as does the less-than-perfect playing of the orchestra. It is wild-eyed, relentless; its teeth are showing. The first movement drags cruelly but appropriately to these ears, because the attacks are sharp and on the toes, not the heal. The repeat is skipped.

Unlike other slow and even many quicker performances, it never loses momentum or sight of the longer lines. Barbirolli unfailingly holds the tension – even as the symphony hovers beautifully in the Andante. It’s closest in vain to Dimitri Mitropoulos’ live-recording with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln from 1959 (at time when “live” meant live!), itself a riveting, raw, individualistic (still shy of eccentric); truly an edge-of-the-seat reading. There are not all that many recordings of this symphony that are truly satisfactory. This is not only among them (Zander, Mitropolous, Gielen, Eschenbach, Fischer are, too), it’s one of the finest available.

This recording has thankfully been re-issued again—now with Barbirolli’s preferred, original movement order, with the Andante first. (On previous issues, the engineers had other ideas and placed the Scherzo first, in accordance with the critical Mahler Edition’s suggestions at the time. It works to riveting effect, which somewhat excuses their interference with the maestro’s wishes.)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 14, 2012, 06:00:20 AM
Thank you all to those who have voted so far, I enjoyed reading your comments, and look forward to reading more!

I promise that Group B will be sent out tommorow. Sorry for the delay.

By the way, if you have time, and want to do another group too for this round, please let me know and I'd be delighted to sent it to you! The more votes the better! :D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Kastchei on April 14, 2012, 06:18:02 AM
Well, I'm not an expert in this kind of things or in Mahler, but here are my thoughts.

My top 5:

1. A8. It has a rich, full sound. The strings sound great and really intense. All the instruments are well balanced and I think it's been played at the right speed.

2. A7. So different... But one of the best, I think. Maybe too slow, but somehow reaches the same levels of intensity that A8. It also sounds balanced and clear.

3. A2. Rich sound and right tempo. Well balanced.

4. A4. Very good, but the sound is "thinner" and in my opinion the tempo doesn't feel right, sometimes "hurried", making the sound a little bit blurry.

5. A6. Nice sound. Perhaps the equalization in the recording made it a little "weak" or "thin". Not enough basses. Also the strings are not "detailed" enough. But still a good one, in my opinion.


Regarding the rest, I think that the A3 is too fast and "abrupt", too sharp. The A5 is difficult to judge because of the old recording. Nothing special about the A1, also thin sound.

And that's my humble opinion.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 14, 2012, 07:04:22 AM
Thank you for your vote, Ruben!

A8 certainly seems to be the favourite from Group A at the moment! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on April 20, 2012, 05:57:57 AM
Now, THAT was fun. The B Group.

Top three for me all had issues, but I'd be happy with any.
No. 1 was a toss up between B1, B5 and B8.

B1 was just about perfect, with perfectly judged rhythms in the march, nice build up in the Alma theme.  The one thing that kept it from perfection was the missed cue by the cymbal in the climax of the Alma section. Drove me nuts. I liked the ritardando near the beginning of it, though. Others may not. Excellent recording for a person looking for a standard interpretation.

I was leery about B5 at first. It's the best recorded of all of them so I worried the vividness of the recording was swamping my critical faculties. But it's a sweeping, viscerally exciting performance.

B8 was the opposite of standard. It was offputting at first. WAY too fast an opening march. The snare drummer should have avoided that third cup of coffee. But the more I listened the more I was drawn in and started playing it more than any of the others. It works. Great Alma theme. Then I realized I recognized the recording. No wonder I like it.

The rest all have their charms, with B2 coming in for special mention. It has the worst opening march. Clip those notes! This is a march, not a gambol in the field! But it also has a truly beautiful Alma section.

B3: Here's your hat, what's your hurry?

It wasn't that B4 was too slow, though it was slow. It just never used that tempo to create something memorable.

BTW, there's a performance listed to the side of the video of the Cleveland Orchestra. I'm pretty sure which recording that was among the choices in the video. It wasn't in contention.

So right now my top three picks would be

1. B5
2. B8
3. B1

But ask me again next week.
   



     
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 20, 2012, 12:31:26 PM
Thank you for your vote, it has been recorded! Interesting comments. Glad you enjoyed it, remember, if you have the time, you can do another group too!

Looking forward to more votes.... :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on April 21, 2012, 03:15:48 AM
Sure, I'll do another round.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 21, 2012, 07:45:37 AM
Sure, I'll do another round.

Great, I'll send you the link to Group C.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zamyrabyrd on April 21, 2012, 08:23:57 AM
I must have been out of town when this kind of poll started. Where does one get the links to the music?
Thanks...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 21, 2012, 08:30:05 AM
I must have been out of town when this kind of poll started. Where does one get the links to the music?
Thanks...

If you could go to the 'Blind Comparison: Mahler 6' thread, which is on this part of the forum and post a comment there. I will then send you the link to your Group! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Papy Oli on April 21, 2012, 10:11:57 AM
Had a listen to the B Group.

B5 and B1 are clear winners to my ears. good balanced pace and impactful. Clear playing.
At a push, I'll give B5 the top spot.

B6 - Pretty good overall

B4 - slow paced which I don't mind, in Barbirolli land almost, but without the impact.

and then the too fast league : B7 then  B2 (disjointed playing at times) and B8 (Bonkers !!!)


(note : details of a recording also appeared under the Views count - funnily enough, it was my 1st recording of the M6 - pretty sure it was B1...well, I think  ;D.... so I am interested to find out which one is B5 now... )


Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 21, 2012, 10:21:30 AM
Had a listen to the B Group.

B5 and B1 are clear winners to my ears. good balanced pace and impactful. Clear playing.
At a push, I'll give B5 the top spot.

B6 - Pretty good overall

B4 - slow paced which I don't mind, in Barbirolli land almost, but without the impact.

and then the too fast league : B7 then  B2 (disjointed playing at times) and B8 (Bonkers !!!)


(note : details of a recording also appeared under the Views count - funnily enough, it was my 1st recording of the M6 - pretty sure it was B1...well, I think  ;D.... so I am interested to find out which one is B5 now... )

Thank you for posting your thoughts, Olivier! So, is your order, no.1 being the favourite: B5, B1, B6, B4, B5?

Oh dear! I didn't notice that.... But looking at it now... that performance is not even in Group B! ;)

Remember, if you have time, and want, to do another group before the 30th April, please just let me know, Olivier! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Papy Oli on April 21, 2012, 10:31:03 AM
B5, B1, B6, B4, B5?

you've got two B5 there... you want it to go through, do you ??  :P

in preferred order  : B5 / B1 / B6 / B4 / B7

Oh dear! I didn't notice that.... But looking at it now... that performance is not even in Group B! ;)

bugger...  :-[ ;D

saying that, the performance displayed on my link is not the same as the one Zauberflote mentioned in his earlier post  on group B...go figure....

Remember, if you have time, and want, to do another group before the 30th April, please just let me know

go on then  :D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 21, 2012, 10:36:40 AM
you've got two B5 there... you want it to go through, do you ??  :P

in preferred order  : B5 / B1 / B6 / B4 / B7

bugger...  :-[ ;D

saying that, the performance displayed on my link is not the same as the one Zauberflote mentioned in his earlier post  on group B...go figure....

go on then  :D

ooops  :-[ haha  ;D
Ok, thank you. Shall record that vote.

Hmmm.... confusing!!!!

Ok, will send you the Group A link in the upcoming minutes!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on April 23, 2012, 08:33:11 PM
OK, after an initial listen (and a couple of second listenings):

1. B5 (best of the bunch to my ears - very nice interpretation, and beautiful orchestral playing)
2. B7 (a bit on the quick side, but I like that!)
3. B1 (nice all-around performance, well-played, middle-of-the-road tempo-wise)
4. B3 (another fast one - I'd describe it as 'stern' or 'grim', not out of place for Mahler 6!)
5. B4 (the slowest of the lot, but it works.  I especially liked how the timpani 'motto' was done here.)

missing the cut:
6. B8 (another quickish one, almost rushed at points.  Gripping but raw orchestral playing.  Not bad, but not in the top five.)
7. B6 (seems like a routine run-through to me.  Nothing special about it.)
8. B2 (another one with a less-than-perfect orchestra, but without the excitement that redeems B8.)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 24, 2012, 07:40:49 AM
Thank you for your vote, some very interesting points... :D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on April 25, 2012, 01:13:49 PM
C-4. It's explosive!  :D

Sorry. Demolitions joke. Couldn't help myself. But of all the selections in the C grouping, C4 easily wins in that regard. Most dynamic of all the marches I've heard in either the B or C groups. Good build up in the Alma section. I could have used a touch more lingering but the conductor does slow down at the last minute. I would have my doubts about the other movements in this conductor's hands but I'd like to hear them.

C7 was also excellent, possibly the best all around.

Another top choice is C1. I love the way the conductor brings out the horns. Best Alma section

The rest sort of blended together for me. There was only one performance I didn't care for, C5. It seemed disjointed and uninspired, even though it sounded like the conductor was trying for  things. They didn't work for me. Muffled timpani. Old recording?   Now watch, it'll be one of my favorite conductors.

I can't go 1 2 3 on this one.

It would be C4 for the opening march and transition section, C1 for Alma (since I like that section the best that might make C1 the keeper) and C7 for a happy median.

One thing I've learned through all this is I don't seem to like the slower versions and that surprises me because I have always been fond of the Barbirolli though I haven't heard it in years. I wonder if any of slow ones in the B or C groups IS the Barbirolli.

I could listen to more, though I'm driving my wife insane playing these over and over.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 25, 2012, 01:21:33 PM
C-4. It's explosive!  :D

Sorry. Demolitions joke. Couldn't help myself. But of all the selections in the C grouping, C4 easily wins in that regard. Most dynamic of all the marches I've heard in either the B or C groups. Good build up in the Alma section. I could have used a touch more lingering but the conductor does slow down at the last minute. I would have my doubts about the other movements in this conductor's hands but I'd like to hear them.

C7 was also excellent, possibly the best all around.

Another top choice is C1. I love the way the conductor brings out the horns. Best Alma section

The rest sort of blended together for me. There was only one performance I didn't care for, C5. It seemed disjointed and uninspired, even though it sounded like the conductor was trying for  things. They didn't work for me. Muffled timpani. Old recording?   Now watch, it'll be one of my favorite conductors.

I can't go 1 2 3 on this one.

It would be C4 for the opening march and transition section, C1 for Alma (since I like that section the best that might make C1 the keeper) and C7 for a happy median.

One thing I've learned through all this is I don't seem to like the slower versions and that surprises me because I have always been fond of the Barbirolli though I haven't heard it in years. I wonder if any of slow ones in the B or C groups IS the Barbirolli.

I could listen to more, though I'm driving my wife insane playing these over and over.
Thank you for your vote. So, should I take C4 as your 1st vote, C1 as 2nd and C7 as third? And could you possibly give a fourth and fifth so I can take your top five! Thank you again for doing two groups, haha - I suppose listening to the Alma Theme in countless numbers of times would have various effects on different people! I know what it does to me... :D

Not long now until the results for Part 1 will be revealed... just waiting for a vote from quite a few people! You still have until Monday, and if you need extra time, please let me know!

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 25, 2012, 01:28:21 PM
Daniel, I'd like to do another comparison (B or C). I can squeeze it in during the coming weekend. It's fun.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on April 25, 2012, 04:52:06 PM
Thank you for your vote. So, should I take C4 as your 1st vote, C1 as 2nd and C7 as third? And could you possibly give a fourth and fifth so I can take your top five! Thank you again for doing two groups, haha - I suppose listening to the Alma Theme in countless numbers of times would have various effects on different people! I know what it does to me... :D

Not long now until the results for Part 1 will be revealed... just waiting for a vote from quite a few people! You still have until Monday, and if you need extra time, please let me know!

I guess so. Not sure I could live with C4 over the long haul but it was the one that made me stand up and take notice.
So, C4, C1, C7.

Remaining two are interchangeable. But I'll go with C2 and C3. They reach what I call the Abbado Plateau. Critics like Claudio Abbado's Mahler. To me Abbado is well recorded with a great orchestra but only serviceable performances. But I did hear a live Mahler Ninth from him that was excellent.
Eagerly await the tabulations
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 26, 2012, 08:56:44 AM
Daniel, I'd like to do another comparison (B or C). I can squeeze it in during the coming weekend. It's fun.

Great! Shall send along the link to Group C in a moment!

I guess so. Not sure I could live with C4 over the long haul but it was the one that made me stand up and take notice.
So, C4, C1, C7.

Remaining two are interchangeable. But I'll go with C2 and C3. They reach what I call the Abbado Plateau. Critics like Claudio Abbado's Mahler. To me Abbado is well recorded with a great orchestra but only serviceable performances. But I did hear a live Mahler Ninth from him that was excellent.
Eagerly await the tabulations

Ok, thank you! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on April 26, 2012, 06:54:13 PM
Group B:

Top five in order of preference:
B5, B1, B4, B7, B6

Impressions:
B1: fast, intense I love it!
B2: too slow and heavy
B3: too fast and superficial
B4: slow, but unlike B2 has a great sense of drama and urgency
B5: very balanced, excellent
B6: similar to 5, but not quite playing together all of the time
B7: this was sounds a little staccato and brusque
B8: rushed, superficial even more so than B3 it is my least favorite
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on April 26, 2012, 07:00:49 PM
Ha!  I can't believe how close my impressions were to Papy Oli's! :D

I am really curious about who those performers are.  Daniel, are you going to do what Discobole did and reveal the losers before the final round?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: TimH on April 27, 2012, 05:14:52 AM
Group C

A very challenging but enjoyable task!

My order is:

1 - C2
2 - C7
3 - C3
4 - C6
5 - C8
-------
6 - C4
7 - C1
8 - C5

.... but on another day and if arranged in a different order, might reach different conclusions.

Brief comments on each one:

C2 - Took a short while to get used to the sound - rather distant with a few crackles - but with the volume up it sounds bright and clear - and in fact very thrilling and characterful with well shaped wind phrasing. Massive Alma climax.

C7 - Strong pulsating tempo, builds tension, great Horns and great Alma climax.

C3 - A touch slow and deliberate, but nonetheless epic and spacious, but Alma climax seems a bit rushed and disjointed.

C6 - Refined but maybe too measured and reserved.

C8 - Rushes and seems lacking in shape - not very memorable.

C4 - Too fast - runs away, rather brash and superficial

C1 - Slow, ponderous, lacking momentum or excitement

C5 - Very very slow, sound distorted, seems ragged and lacks finesse - sometimes almost a parody - worst by far!

I look forward to looking at everyone's comments - can't wait to find out who we have been listening to and who is the overall winner.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: fridden on April 27, 2012, 09:11:44 AM
This is my top 5 from group B

B2 - I liked the drama in this one, with good contrast between sections.
B1 - A bit raw sounding with nice bite in the march, also with nice contrasts between sections.
B5 - Also a dramatic reading in big sound.
B7 - I like the reading, if the sound was better it would have been even better.
B4 - Very slow, almost too slow. But it really gives the march a dark and ominous tone.

B8 - Not bad, but the march feels a little too rushed.
B3 - Another one too fast for me.
B6 - To straightforward for me. The sound isnt helping.

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 27, 2012, 11:41:13 AM
Thank you for all the votes. Just waiting for a few more now, you have until Monday! (please let me know if you need extra time)

Ha!  I can't believe how close my impressions were to Papy Oli's! :D

I am really curious about who those performers are.  Daniel, are you going to do what Discobole did and reveal the losers before the final round?

Yes, all the losers will be revealed before the start of the next round. Hopefully, I will be able to reveal them on Monday evening, if everyone manages to vote in time. :) And then we can move directly onto Part 2, which will narrow the recordings down to the final 5.

Glad to see you are all enjoying it!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 29, 2012, 04:45:38 AM
OK, here is my verdict on Group C's contenders (and I didn't look how the others voted):


1. C3 Emphatic, well-played, second theme has the requisite 'Schwung'. You get a clear sense of purpose.


2. C1 I know this performance. It was the first Sixth I ever heard, and I still think it holds up well. The orchestra is excellent and the conductor's approach is no-nonsense but urgent.


3. C5 First theme - very slow and heavy. Second theme - impetuous. I think it's a Russian performance, and I like it a lot.


4. C2 Well-balanced performance.


5. C4 Very urgent and vigorous, but still can take the time if it wants to (Gergiev?)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 29, 2012, 04:53:42 AM
Thank you for your vote, Johan, and also for doing two groups! :)

Just over one more day left to vote... then, Part 1 results revealed!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zamyrabyrd on April 29, 2012, 09:13:14 PM
It was really hard to decide but my top preference for B is B5, seems to be all around balanced not ignoring the sinister aspect. B2 is the 2nd on my list, with its darker tones and somewhat featuring the percussion more. B3 is 3rd, the orchestral contrasts being very marked, not to mention the surprising solo trumpet that one doesn't necessarily hear in the others. B1 is good, sharp but maybe a little too cheerful rather than ironic. B4 is slower, more weighted, so that is my no.5.
The remaining 3 (6,7, 8 ) in my opinion, don't mine the piece for detail and expression as well as the first five.

ZB
PS Can you send the link to C? Thanks.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on April 30, 2012, 02:16:01 AM
Such a great fun to listen to so many different version of Mahler No.6, one of my favourite pieces of all time! :D

1. C7: Very beautiful performance. The first melody, very thrilling and impressive, bursts out with incredible energy on a powerful, intense movement of march, wonderfully played. Excellent phrasing among the sections, the tempo chosen was brilliant and gave great strenght to the piece. Amazing pianissimo of the woowinds onthe pizzicato of the strings, very melodious and suggestive. The second melody (Alma Theme) was incredibly passionate and lyrical, very romantic.
2. C2: Brilliant and powerful. The march was very energetic and rich of expressive strenght, whereas the Alma Theme was bright and vibrant, showing great beauty and passion. Very good tempo, maybe slightly slow at the beginning of the Alma Theme.
3. C1: A bit too slow rythm in the march, which sounded very strong, intense and energetic anyway; it worked better in the second melody, which was very beautiful and vital. Brilliant pianissimo between the first and the second melody, quite expressive and well played.
4. C6: Very enjoyable perfomance in the march, powerful and intense enough. Brilliant choice of tempo and impressive, melodious pianissimo. I appreciated the Alma Theme, which was passionate and moving.
5. C8: Energetic, strong march, wich anyway lacked some power because of slightly too fast rythm; instead the Alma Theme was very brilliant and romantic.

6. C3: Rather beautiful, powerful and enphatic, the orchestra was very well balanced, with a good sound quality. It sounded lacking energy in some points of the march though.
7. C4: Enjoyable, but the tempi weren't very good, too fast or too slow; the rythm instead was brilliant at the beginning of the Alma Theme.
8. C8: Not bad, but not well-balanced orchestra, the instruments often sounded playing out of tune and coming too early. Some variations on the intesity of the sound were perceived.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2012, 02:42:47 AM
Unless someone can think of a way to work around this, it looks like I won't be able to participate:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/apr12/mahler6bbgroupc.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on April 30, 2012, 04:48:47 AM
Unless someone can think of a way to work around this, it looks like I won't be able to participate:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/apr12/mahler6bbgroupc.jpg)
Sarge

At least that's a good hint which recording it might be.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on April 30, 2012, 05:24:31 AM
Hmmm...looks as if this could be an interesting exercise, at least for those with time to participate -- and access to the blind files.  Where are they?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on April 30, 2012, 05:31:46 AM
Hmmm...looks as if this could be an interesting exercise, at least for those with time to participate -- and access to the blind files.  Where are they?

Daniel has to PM you.  This is the last day for pass 1, but if you can't participate pass 2 will begin soon and it will be more exciting since the chaff has already been separated from the wheat. :)

While you're at it you should take a look at the Haydn SQ blind listening that we did earlier this month.  It was alot of fun! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Novi on April 30, 2012, 06:23:44 AM
Here are my top five: A8, A7, A4, A2, A6

A1: Way too fast for me; seems to skim through the music.

A2: Broader tempo as well as sound than A1 but lacks a little bite.

A3: I like the urgency of the opening; a bit ragged at times and I'd prefer more heft.

A4: Weightier opening - like the growly drums! Really like the Alma theme.

A5: Didn't like this one much; seemed a bit stolid at times, a bit messy in Alma.

A6: This one was ok; liked the odd phrase here and there, but overall didn't make a huge impression.

A7: Heavy and relentless - I wouldn't have expected to like that kind of deliberate emphasis, sometimes on every note in the phrase, but I did. Relentless and macabre. I haven't listened to it in a while, but think I recognise this one - distinctive vocalisation.

A8: This one's so alive! Love how you get all the details in the separate voices but they still all come together as an organic whole - throughout the clip, but especially in the gloriously rich sound of the Alma section.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2012, 06:44:54 AM
Hmmm...looks as if this could be an interesting exercise, at least for those with time to participate -- and access to the blind files.  Where are they?

The group C files are here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZo83V-6DrQ

Maybe you can take my place, David.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 30, 2012, 07:00:43 AM
Thank you all for your votes. Shall be recorded and released tonight!!!!

Unless someone can think of a way to work around this, it looks like I won't be able to participate:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/apr12/mahler6bbgroupc.jpg)


Sarge

Oh dear... I'm sorry about this Sarge. Is it alright if I try and solve the problem for Parts 2 and 3 so that you can participate in those? I will research a little into how else I can upload these files so that they can get to you.

Or - Sending you a PM with another suggestion now.
Hmmm...looks as if this could be an interesting exercise, at least for those with time to participate -- and access to the blind files.  Where are they?


Hello, David. As there are only a few hours left to vote in Part 1, do you want to skip this part and join for Part 2 and 3 (the finale)? If you think you will have a spare 40 minutes this evening to do a group though, please just let me know and I'll send you a link!

Results revealed in 5 hours! :D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 30, 2012, 07:04:29 AM
It's a pity I wasn't at home these past few hours, otherwise I would have had a solution to Sarge's problem. I would have downloaded the YouTube vid and uploaded it again to, say, Mediafire. Then Sarge could have downloaded it from there...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 30, 2012, 07:07:05 AM
It's a pity I wasn't at home these past few hours, otherwise I would have had a solution to Sarge's problem. I would have downloaded the YouTube vid and uploaded it again to, say, Mediafire. Then Sarge could have downloaded it from there...

There are 5 hours left... so, it would be amazing if you could do that, Johan! I am not sure how to use the software...  ???

But if you don't have the time, don't worry. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 30, 2012, 07:12:06 AM
There is a free programme YouTube Downloader (iirc)... I'll see what I can do. I am at my ex's place.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 30, 2012, 07:15:15 AM
There is a free programme YouTube Downloader (iirc)... I'll see what I can do. I am at my ex's place.

Don't worry about it, Johan. Sarge is going out to dinner anyway this evening (sorry for revealing your plans, Sarge! ;) ), so probably won't have the time to do it. I shall make sure to use this method for the next parts though.

Thank you anyway, Johan! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 30, 2012, 07:16:30 AM
There is a free programme YouTube Downloader (iirc)... I'll see what I can do. I am at my ex's place.

You may be going to a lot of trouble for nothing, Johan. We're going out to dinner this evening. I'm not sure I'll have enough time to listen to them properly. I think I should skip this round.

Edit: just saw MAD's message.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 30, 2012, 07:18:55 AM
I had just downloaded the programme to my ex's computer... OK, use it next time, Daniel. And have a great night out, Sarge!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 30, 2012, 07:21:02 AM
I had just downloaded the programme to my ex's computer... OK, use it next time, Daniel. And have a great night out, Sarge!

Sorry... Johan! Thank you anyway. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on April 30, 2012, 08:28:24 AM
I'm counting down to the big reveal, this is exciting!! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 30, 2012, 08:45:11 AM
I'm counting down to the big reveal, this is exciting!! :)

:D

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 30, 2012, 11:59:28 AM
VOTING FOR PART 1 HAS NOW FINISHED

Thank you to all of those that voted, I hope you enjoyed the first part of the survey!
Results shall be posted tommorow afternoon! Looking forward to revealing them to you... :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 30, 2012, 12:02:29 PM
 :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on April 30, 2012, 12:17:32 PM
I definitely hope in this comparison the Karajan recording will score higher than in the Schumann one. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on April 30, 2012, 06:40:07 PM
The group C files are here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZo83V-6DrQ

Maybe you can take my place, David.
Thanks for the link, Sarge. I'm too late for the show, but I'm interested in hearing them blind and seeing what I think--and how that compares with others' choices. Hope Daniel got a solution for you.

Hello, David. As there are only a few hours left to vote in Part 1, do you want to skip this part and join for Part 2 and 3 (the finale)? If you think you will have a spare 40 minutes this evening to do a group though, please just let me know and I'll send you a link!
Thanks, Daniel -- I would like the links for 2 & 3 and look forward to hearing what you put on part 1 when I get around to it.

Results revealed in 5 hours! :D
[/quote]

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 06:42:46 AM
Thanks, Daniel -- I would like the links for 2 & 3 and look forward to hearing what you put on part 1 when I get around to it.
Will send them along once uploaded, David. Glad you want to take part! :)
Part 1 results coming in approximately one hour! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 01, 2012, 06:50:09 AM
Quote from: madaboutmahler on Today at 17:42:46 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=20334.msg625500#msg625500)
Part 1 results coming in approximately one hour! :)



 :o :o :o ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 07:33:38 AM
I suppose I should probably post the results now then! ;)  ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 08:43:10 AM
Part 1 - Results!

#24: A5 Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Horenstein (BBC Legends/1969)
recieving no votes at all and been described as messy and stolid in parts, this recording released on the 'BBC Legends' comes last place.



#23: A1 Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kubelik (DG/1968)
recieving very very few votes, this recording was described as far too fast.



#22: C8 London Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev (LSO Live/2008)
The first release in Gergiev's recent, speedily completed Mahler cycle was described as rapid, without shape, with too little power and nothing special.



#21: B6 The Cleveland Orchestra/Szell (Sony/1967)
Described as a straight-forward, routine performance with poor sound.



#20: B8 Vienna Philharmonic/Bernstein (DG/1989)
Known as a classic performance of Mahler 6, Bernstein's well-loved DG recording with the VPO comes at only 20th in the survey. Described as rather rushed and superficial.


Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 08:44:00 AM
continued....

#19 A2 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Rattle (EMI/1991)
A recording that recieved a fair amount of praise, but was called too stretched-out.



#18 C6 Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich/Zinman (RCA/2009)
Recieving mixed responses, this recording was thought by some to be too reserved.



#17 B3 Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Neumann (Supraphon/1977)
Those who said anything about this recording said that it was too fast.



#16 A6 Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra/Inbal (Brilliant/1993)
This recording was criticised for not having enough weight and for sounding thin. It did reach the top 5 of a few of the voters however.



Part 2 links, with the remaining competitors, shall be sent around very very soon! This part of the comparison will be based around an extract from the scherzo.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 08:44:54 AM
So, what do you think of the results? Surprised? ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: fridden on May 01, 2012, 08:51:02 AM
So, what do you think of the results? Surprised? ;)

I am surprised about the Bernstein actually! I thought I liked it more  :o
Kubelik is gone as well, hmmm...

But I am also happy to see that there are still a possibility for some of my favorites to be among the finals.

Thanks a lot for all the work you are putting into this!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 01, 2012, 08:53:19 AM
I can't believe that the classic Szell recording is already out of the race!  Well at least I had it in my top five. :)

I'm astonished that I thought that a DG Bernstein recording was too fast!!  Really!?  Am I drunk!? :o :o

I don't like Horenstein and I thought that in a blind listen he would be placed dead last (vindication!).  I don't mind his 4th though just because it's so weird.  I would like to see how his famous 3rd does when we tackle that symphony (his third is much more thought out).

I am very glad that Gielen is not on that list.  May he triumph for at least one more round. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on May 01, 2012, 08:54:01 AM
So, what do you think of the results? Surprised? ;)

Oh, some of this is actually quite gratifying.  :D

And I'm almost surprised, (even) in retrospect, that I didn't even bother to include Bernstein's DG 6th. (His Sony is fine, his seedy, sloppy Vienna DVD performance I hate...)

Quote

You’d think that the one Symphony that should be most suited to Valery Gergiev would be the Sixth: With a stubble, crumpled suit, dark, bloodshot eyes, the smell of liquor from the long night before still lingering, ruthless and wild and with unwashed, unkempt hair. (That’s my ideal vision of the Sixth, not a description of Gergiev’s appearance.) All the greater my surprise to hear Gergiev’s Sixth—part of his Mahler Cycle with the LSO on their own label—to be a tame (if not quite emaciated) performance. Even if Gergiev had gone for Scherzo-Andante and three hammer blows, instead of the (now) standard Andante-Scherzo/Two, this would not qualify for inclusion among the raw, driven Sixths. I prefer it just slightly over Mariss Jansons’ all too refined Sixth with the same orchestra from just a few years earlier, but it’s far too middle-of-the-run for inclusion among my favorites.

It was with great anticipation that I listened to the brisk live recording (73 minutes; an 18 minute Allegro) of George Szell’s with the Cleveland Orchestra (Sony). But the sound is muffled, the interpretation tame, the execution without heft, and everything feels a bit middle-of-the-road. Quick, live, and also on the side of understatement, rather than exaggeration, is Rafael Kubelik—the live performance on Audite showing him at his self-effacing best in Mahler. I’m not quite convinced by an even faster interpretation: that of Kyrill Kondrashin (65 minutes! 16 ½ minutes for the Allegro). In direct comparison, faster is usually more appealing. But in the opening movement Kondrashin doesn’t get his feet on the ground to establish the necessary weight and force. That’s too bad, as he would have been another conductor I’d have thought capable for the necessary clenching violence that so tickles me here. I’d not want to miss the performance for the mad Scherzo alone, though...



Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 01, 2012, 08:59:37 AM
List of my favorites that have NOT been eliminated: Bertini, Gielen, Zander, Sanderling, Boulez.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 01, 2012, 09:02:23 AM
Jens I'm actually really surprised that Kondrashin wasn't outright eliminated, and now I wonder if he is even in the sample.  I've noticed that your impressions were pretty close on the Haydn thread too (well excepting the Auryn Q).
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 09:19:40 AM
I am surprised about the Bernstein actually! I thought I liked it more  :o
Kubelik is gone as well, hmmm...

But I am also happy to see that there are still a possibility for some of my favorites to be among the finals.

Thanks a lot for all the work you are putting into this!

I can't believe that the classic Szell recording is already out of the race!  Well at least I had it in my top five. :)

I'm astonished that I thought that a DG Bernstein recording was too fast!!  Really!?  Am I drunk!? :o :o

I don't like Horenstein and I thought that in a blind listen he would be placed dead last (vindication!).  I don't mind his 4th though just because it's so weird.  I would like to see how his famous 3rd does when we tackle that symphony (his third is much more thought out).

I am very glad that Gielen is not on that list.  May he triumph for at least one more round. :)

List of my favorites that have NOT been eliminated: Bertini, Gielen, Zander, Sanderling, Boulez.

Yes, I thought that quite a few people would be surprised to see Bernstein DG out...

It's a pleasure! :) The project of doing a Blind Comparison for all of the Mahler symphonies is great fun and very interesting! ;)

David - I can't reveal any of the contesters remaining, but can apologize that only half of your list of favourites are included...  :-[
Lets hope that your favourites that are included go far! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 01, 2012, 09:25:26 AM
Quite surprised, I can't believe Bernstein's recording has been left out!! :o It's my absolute favourite one!! :o

I'm looking forward to the next part then!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on May 01, 2012, 09:36:10 AM
Since I only listened to Group B, I'm shocked about B8 as well!  Like many other listeners, Bernstein/DG/Vienna Phil is one of my reference versions.  I didn't think it was bad, per se, but I did find it a bit fast and thought the orchestral playing lacked polish.  No offense to Russian orchestras, but I was sure it was Svetlanov or maybe Fedoseyev!  :-[

I'm less surprised about B3 - it made my cut, but wasn't one of my very top choices.  The rest of what I've heard of Neumann's Mahler has been good, but not great.

It wasn't in my listening group, but I'm also surprised Szell didn't make the cut.  I'm only so-so about it, but it's a classic for some.

Ah well, on to Round Two.  Looking forward to it!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 01, 2012, 10:05:21 AM
Since I only listened to Group B, I'm shocked about B8 as well!  Like many other listeners, Bernstein/DG/Vienna Phil is one of my reference versions.  I didn't think it was bad, per se, but I did find it a bit fast and thought the orchestral playing lacked polish.  No offense to Russian orchestras, but I was sure it was Svetlanov or maybe Fedoseyev!  :-[

Me three the DG Bernstein is exceptional.  So surprised.

Quote
It wasn't in my listening group, but I'm also surprised Szell didn't make the cut.  I'm only so-so about it, but it's a classic for some.

It was in our group, it was B6.

Daniel I hope that Gielen is in the group!! ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 01, 2012, 10:33:06 AM
The results don't surprise me even though two of my favorites failed to make the cut (Bernstein DG, Szell). My love for the Bernstein is based almost entirely on his last movement. And Szell...well, his performance shows its greatness (to me) in its cumulative effect: the way the final tragedy is so unexpected, even startling, given the lightness and "Classical" grace of what's come before. Neither Bernstein's nor Szell's first movements impress me the way their final movements do.

Glad to see my absolute favorite, Solti, is still in the running  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 10:40:15 AM
The results don't surprise me even though two of my favorites failed to make the cut (Bernstein DG, Szell). My love for the Bernstein is based almost entirely on his last movement. And Szell...well, his performance shows its greatness (to me) in its cumulative effect: the way the final tragedy is so unexpected, even startling, given the lightness and "Classical" grace of what's come before. Neither Bernstein's nor Szell's first movements impress me the way their final movements do.

Glad to see my absolute favorite, Solti, is still in the running  8)

Sarge
For me also, the highlight of the Bernstein DG is in the finale. I still need to listen to the Szell properly. :)
Yes, glad that Solti is still going! Lets hope it stays that way! :D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 01, 2012, 10:43:55 AM
Glad to see my absolute favorite, Solti, is still in the running  8)

I agree; the Karajan too. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on May 01, 2012, 11:01:01 AM

It was in our group, it was B6.


Ahh, you're right!  Somehow I saw 'C6'...  :-[


Glad to see my absolute favorite, Solti, is still in the running  8)

Sarge

One of my favorites, too!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Papy Oli on May 01, 2012, 11:35:18 AM
hmmm.... I've called the B8 Bernstein DG " bonkers" in my vote and it finished last. Will have to give it a full listen again at some stage  ;D

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 01, 2012, 11:37:38 AM
I see to my delight that most of my choices have survived (apart from Rattle and Inbal)... Onwards and upwards!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 01, 2012, 12:48:16 PM
Daniel I hope that Gielen is in the group!! ;D

Sorry, David... that was one that I didn't include...  :-[
I hope that there are many more recordings that you will enjoy though! :)

hmmm.... I've called the B8 Bernstein DG " bonkers" in my vote and it finished last. Will have to give it a full listen again at some stage  ;D



haha :D

hmmm... there are 4 recordings left in Group A, 5 left in Group B, and 6 left in Group C.
What I have decided to do is create a Group X and a Group Y to share the recordings.
The listings:
Group X: A3, A4, A7, A8, B1, B4, B7, C2.
Group Y: C1, C3, C4, C5, C7, B2, B5.

Shall try and start getting the links out tommorow afternoon! The excerpt from the scherzo shall be roughly 5.5 minutes long.

The voting deadline for Part 2 shall be... erm... Monday 21st May. As always, if you think you will need slightly longer, please let me know.

Glad that you are enjoying the survey! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 01, 2012, 01:13:04 PM
I wonder if three weeks is too long... The (current) contestants are now fully concentrated. Perhaps 14 May?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 01, 2012, 04:31:13 PM
I recognized the Bernstein, but only when I played the Mahler Sixes I own to compare the B group. I had already been starting to like B8 when I played my recording and in toto it is a great performance.
I was surprised it sounded rushed and frenetic in the excerpt offered. It sounded fine as a whole. I ranked it second.
Title: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Leo K. on May 02, 2012, 05:29:50 AM
Wow, very surprised by Bernstein already gone! What makes that recording one of my top choices is the development section in the first movement. I have heard at least 50 different 6s and none approach what Bernstein does with Vienna! It does appear my top choice, Karajan, is still in the running.

I'm not sure if MTT is included, but the SFSO under his direction absolutely soar in the M6.

I like the Horenstein account on BBC Legends A LOT. The scherzo is what makes that performance for me, and the andante.

I wish I had the time to participate but it sure is fun to see the results coming in!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 02, 2012, 08:43:13 AM
Interesting to read all your feedback! I knew the Bernstein would be a surprise...!!

I wonder if three weeks is too long... The (current) contestants are now fully concentrated. Perhaps 14 May?

I'd be happy to go with this. Is everyone else with the deadline for Part 2 voting being the 14 May? If you know that you will need that week extra, please let me know now! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 03, 2012, 12:56:04 PM
Ok, the link for Group X has been sent out. Group Y shall be out tommorow evening.

The voting deadline for this Part of the comparison is the 14th May. If you think you will need a little longer, please let me know!

Happy Voting!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Discobole on May 03, 2012, 05:18:03 PM
After a while, and seeing that things seem calmer regarding insults against my country, I decided to start posting again here.

Bravo to madaboutmahler for organizing this comparison. I tried the first round (group C) but found it too difficult to rank 8 versions, or even 5 among 8. But I'll definitely try again for the 2nd round.

I'll start a comparison very soon too, on a very different orchestral piece.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 03, 2012, 10:39:25 PM
After a while, and seeing that things seem calmer regarding insults against my country, I decided to start posting again here.

Bravo to madaboutmahler for organizing this comparison. I tried the first round (group C) but found it too difficult to rank 8 versions, or even 5 among 8. But I'll definitely try again for the 2nd round.

I'll start a comparison very soon too, on a very different orchestral piece.

Good morning!

Glad to hear this, Discobole!

I look forward to your Blind Comparisons too. :) I shall be doing one for each Mahler symphony, which will probably take a few years! Next will be the 1st symphony.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Discobole on May 04, 2012, 12:37:53 AM
Good morning!

Glad to hear this, Discobole!

I look forward to your Blind Comparisons too. :) I shall be doing one for each Mahler symphony, which will probably take a few years! Next will be the 1st symphony.

Great idea. Please juste leave me the 2nd ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 04, 2012, 11:26:19 AM
Great idea. Please juste leave me the 2nd ;D
Ok, sure. :)

After 6, I'll do no.1, then 5, then 7. :) That should probably take us to the end of the year, maybe being able to include no.3 too. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 04, 2012, 11:55:33 AM
After 6, I'll do no.1

Oh, how wonderful; one of my favourite Mahler's symphonies. ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 04, 2012, 03:23:02 PM
Oh, how wonderful; one of my favourite Mahler's symphonies. ;D
Strangely, one of my least favorite, which is why I'd love a blind listen - maybe I'd find something I like!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 05, 2012, 01:33:33 AM
Strangely, one of my least favorite, which is why I'd love a blind listen - maybe I'd find something I like!

Well, honestly, I really enjoy listening all his symphonies; but No.1 is rather special for me as I started loving Mahler's music after hearing it and No.6. Listening to many different recordings of it will be certainly a massive fun. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 05, 2012, 09:52:20 AM
All the links for Part 2 have now been sent out. If there are any problems, please do let me know and I will do my best to solve them for you!

The voting deadline is the 14th May - like in the first part, please post your thoughts and votes (as a top 5) on this thread.

Happy Voting everyone! :)

By the way,  10 recordings will be eliminated in Part 2, leaving us a final 5 for the finale, in which the whole last movement on each of these top 5 recordings shall be compared. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 05, 2012, 10:21:28 AM
Hmm, this means we will listen to a lot of hammer blows ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 05, 2012, 10:23:37 AM
Hmm, this means we will listen to a lot of hammer blows ;D

:D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 05, 2012, 10:27:14 AM
Quote from: madaboutmahler on Today at 20:52:20 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=20334.msg626770#msg626770)
All the links for Part 2 have now been sent out. If there are any problems, please do let me know and I will do my best to solve them for you!

The voting deadline is the 14th May - like in the first part, please post your thoughts and votes (as a top 5) on this thread.

Happy Voting everyone! :)

By the way,  10 recordings will be eliminated in Part 2, leaving us a final 5 for the finale, in which the whole last movement on each of these top 5 recordings shall be compared. :)



I'm making coffee, and then - Mahler!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 05, 2012, 10:29:33 AM
Quote from: madaboutmahler on Today at 20:52:20 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=20334.msg626770#msg626770)
All the links for Part 2 have now been sent out. If there are any problems, please do let me know and I will do my best to solve them for you!

The voting deadline is the 14th May - like in the first part, please post your thoughts and votes (as a top 5) on this thread.

Happy Voting everyone! :)

By the way,  10 recordings will be eliminated in Part 2, leaving us a final 5 for the finale, in which the whole last movement on each of these top 5 recordings shall be compared. :)



I'm making coffee, and then - Mahler!


:)

Hope you enjoy it, Johan! I look forward to seeing your vote! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 05, 2012, 11:39:16 AM
Okay, my verdict (Mahler part 2 Group X):


1. A4 I like the playing of the orchestra, and the sonic depth. The conducting is at the service of the music, I don't feel the conductor impinging on the proceedings, as is the case in some of the other performances.


2. A8 Very exciting performance. Great sound. Because there is a sense of occasion about it (live), I place it second, as I could imagine the excitement could become a distraction. Still, great playing and conducting. The conductor has a firm grip.


3. B2 A quite flawless implementation of Mahler's own remarks about this movement with all the rallentandi and accelerandi (children running, standing still, stumbling). Good sound. Good orchestra. Conductor marginally too prominent.


4. B1 Quite similar to B2, but just a tad less deliberate. Sound and orchestra leave nothing to be desired.


5. B4 Also quite similar to B2. Spacious sound. Another performance that certainly does the movement justice.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 05, 2012, 12:15:57 PM
Thank you for getting your vote back so quickly, Johan! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 12, 2012, 07:08:15 AM
The Y group. And here we are not at the beginning but dropped in at the end of the scherzo.

My favorite is C1. It enters a bit speedily but soon shapes up as the most elastic and musical of the whole group and by a pretty wide margin for me, like Secretariat beating the field in the 1973 Belmont Stakes (to date me.)  Love the tightness of the swooping horns with the rest of the orchestra. Really nice.

Of all these recordings only A7 I hadn't heard in the first round so I wanted to listen as closely as possible with special consideration because people had raved about it in round 1. Somebody's humming. Is this Glenn Gould conducting?! Kidding. Flags a bit toward the end but overall quite good. Very nice balance overall.

C5 I hadn't liked at all in the first round. It grows on me a little  here. Obviously an older recording.  Some tempo questions, but tempi of any kind can work if in the right hands. These are fast but with a sameness to each section that makes the whole a little boring. But still a very respectable performance.

I had liked C4 a lot in the first movement segment from before but had worried it might be too much if the conductor kept up that pace. He does here and it doesn't work quite as well. To invert the old saying, it misses the trees for the forest and in Mahler I like to see the trees. It's still electrifying though.

B5 had been my favorite of the B group in round 1. Seems OK if a bit sluggish here.

Neither C2 nor C7 do much for me.

For the heck of it I listened to the eliminated Bernstein in this section. It beats all except possibly C1 but comes VERY close. I'd like to see C1 and the Bernstein in a match race.  Secretariat would have a real challenger

So, in order:

C1
and at a distance
A7
C5
C4
B5
 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: fridden on May 12, 2012, 10:48:39 AM
Here is my ranking for Part 2 Group X

1. A4
Good sound. I like how it goes from quiet to loud, slow to fast and vice verse. Makes the music engaging and alive and brings out a dance like quality to the music.

2. B2
Sound is quite ok. This is an intense reading, with nice contrasts between slow and fast like A4, but perhaps a little to intense at times.

3. A8
Good and spacious sound. This is slower and calmer reading. But I like it, they manage to keep the nerve and make it powerful rather than too slow.

4. B1
Pretty good sound, and there are a lot of power and excitements from time to time, but when it is slow it is a little too slow for being a top contender.

5. A3
The recorded sound is very good. It feels brisk but timings suggest it is neither brisk nor slow. Pretty straightforward, ok reading.

For my number 5 spot  I really could have choose any one of A3, B4 and C2. I found B4 very similar to A3, but choose A3 finally due to better sound.

B7 was at the bottom of my list, the performance being much too slow for me.

/fridden
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Kastchei on May 12, 2012, 12:35:15 PM
I'm finding this increasingly difficult, but here I go:

Mahler 6 Part 2 Group X:

1. A8. It has a special energy and good balance. Maybe the quality of the recording is not the best, but I really like it.

2. A4. Very good, too. And very well recorded. Not so "energetic" but very well balanced.

3. B1. Intense performance and great sound.

4. B2. Also very good. Maybe I prefer how the tempo is conducted in the previous performances.

5. B4. A good recording, good sound, detailed.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 13, 2012, 03:53:23 AM
Thank you for those votes!

Reminder: voting deadline, this Wednesday 10.00 pm England time. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on May 14, 2012, 08:03:02 PM
OK, finally got through them all.  Here are my impressions:

1. C2
Not much I could find wrong with this performance.  Very well played, tempos well-judged, just the right amount of grotesquerie without going over the top.

2. B1
Very nice overall - fine wind playing in the trio, and a nicely spooky coda.  Could have used a little more sense of despair at the 'collapse' (the big B-flat 7th chord followed by chromatically descending flutes and horn pedal notes), but that's about my only nitpick

3. B4
Fine performance in general.  Again, nice woodwind playing in the trio section, with the portamenti and accents nicely done.  The return to the main tempo (and to A minor) drives ahead well, and the 'collapse' is well-characterized.  The coda seems a bit rushed and undercharacterized, but okay otherwise.

4. A4
Another nicely-played, middle-of-the-road performance.  Nice orchestral playing with plenty of detail.  Nice take on the trio section - light and gentle, just the right amount of Ländler feel.  The lead-in to the 'collapse' is a bit underdone, but the descending flutes and oboes are nicely gruesome.

5. A3
A bit of a dropoff from A4 to here - the main section is rather quick, and a lot of the orchestral detail seems to get swallowed up.  The timpani and percussion in particular are lacking edge, and a lot of the coarser effects are smoothed over (i.e. the fortissimo low horns after the repeated F-sharps around 3:00).  Still, the trio section is pleasantly done, and the lead-in and 'collapse' are effective.

6.B7
On the slow side in general, a bit mannered, and not particularly distinguished.  As with a number of the other performances, the 'collapse' and coda are the strongest parts.

7. B2
The orchestra here is a bit weak, and again some of the more grotesque colors are toned down.  I found some of the tempo contrasts and accents (particularly in the trio) a bit exaggerated for my taste; the big slowdown into the 'collapse' chord is a bit off-putting as well.  The coda winds things down nicely, however.

8. A8
Definitely the least effective of the eight performances for me.  The overall tempo is a bit on the slow side.  The trio section, with its overdone accents and portamenti, sounds heavy and cumbersome, rather than light and graceful.  Even the instrumental effects are often overdone (check out the sickly oboes that accompany the descending flute after the 'collapse' and the tipsy bass clarinet near the end!)

Looking forward to the Finales - and the final reveal!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 15, 2012, 12:33:21 AM
Thank you for your vote! Very interesting comments, I enjoyed reading them! :)

Voting deadline tommorow at 10.00... please let me know if you will not be able to make this deadline!

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 15, 2012, 06:32:36 PM
Part 2 Group X:
(rankings greatest to least)
A4 > A3=B1 > A8 > B4 > C2 > B2 > B7

Impressions:
A3 is great
A4 is great, very dynamic but never forceful or overly rushed or slow (my favorite)
A8 sounds great, but a little too forceful
B1 sounds great
B2 is overly contrasty and too fast on the fast passages too slow on the slow passaages
B4 is a little slow, but nice
B7 is just too slow
C2 is ok, not irritating like B2 or B7 but not spectacular either
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 15, 2012, 11:53:18 PM
It’s been so long since I did the first listen that I don’t remember anything about which ones I liked, so I go into this about as fresh as possible…

Favorites (in order): A8, B2, A4, B4, A3.   A8 and B2 were the clear standouts and ahead of the rest. Based on this clip alone, I thought B1 and B7 were the least interesting (by a fair amount). Can't wait to read what others thought...

Group X review:
A3 – Decent. Strikes me as a bit sluggish and heavy. Playing is pretty good. Too staccato at times?  Never really gets off the ground for me. Ranking: 5

A4 – More lightness here, and this makes the fuller parts more effective. Though, there is almost a feeling of daintiness at times. Interesting.  Ranking: 3

A8 – Entrances are sharper/crisper. This creates tension, but it also adds a bit of edge to the scherzo. I liked some of the accents/phrasing at 13.50 for example – really adds to the scherzo. I loved some of the details here (in phrasing/tempo changes/etc.) that really add to the piece. The clear winner for me as it held my attention from beginning to end. Ranking: 1 

B1 – Not that great and seems to flag quite a bit. Perhaps it is just too straight? This one doesn’t have the playfulness that the others have.  Ranking: 7

B2 – Ah, a bit more light on its feet.  The tempo changes are more extreme here, but it seems to work (or is that just the impression it creates?). I liked this almost as much as A8, except that had so many interesting details, I’d keep that just ahead. Ranking: 2

B4 – A bit bland. But it has a good impact overall. It doesn’t have quite the character as some of the others. Ranking: 4

B7 – Too pretty to start and underpowered. Too much on the back of its heals. A scherzo should have a bit more pizzazz. Lacks playfulness. Ranking: 8

C2 – A relief after B7. A middle of the road performance for me though. Nothing stands out particularly, but it doesn’t make many mistakes either (but also doesn’t take many risks). Ranking: 6
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 15, 2012, 11:56:26 PM
This was fun - I hope we get enough Y votes though.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 16, 2012, 04:19:49 AM
This was fun - I hope we get enough Y votes though.

Unless I missed something we've only had one voter in group Y post.  I wonder if Daniel will hand us group Xers also do the Y group for pass 2b?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: TimH on May 16, 2012, 04:55:26 AM
Feedback on Group Y of Part 2, going from best to worst:

C4 - Bright, energetic, detailed, characterful

C1 - Similar to C4 but perhaps a touch slow and lumbering in a couple of places

A7 - Strange conductor grunting/mumbling detracts from otherwise fine and quite weighty and occasionally sparkling performance

C7 - Great detailed sound recording, but too slow and therefore not that exciting

C3 - Quite reserved, slightly woolly recording, no great impact

B5 - Spacious but quite thin sound, rather deliberate, not especially interesting

C5 - Poor sound - detracts from performance, which in any case seems below average

As a general comment, seems harder to choose this time round - perhaps because some of the weaker recordings have already been eliminated.

Also, interestingly, C4 did much better here than when I reviewed Group C for the first movement.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 16, 2012, 06:41:11 AM
Also, interestingly, C4 did much better here than when I reviewed Group C for the first movement.

Intriguing. I placed C4 at the top in the first round, only fourth in the second. It just goes to show. What, I'm not sure.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 16, 2012, 08:16:48 AM
Thank you all for your votes!

If any of you have time to do Group Y too in the next 4 hours, please let me know as well if you would like to! Otherwise, just waiting for votes from three people in Group Y. Then the results will be revealed! :) Again, quite a few surprises by the look of it!

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 16, 2012, 08:54:41 AM
Ranking these excerpts was a bit more difficult than doing the same with the 1st movement; such a great fun though. ;D

1. C1: Very powerful, expressive and beautifully played; the sound of the orchestra was passionate and elegant, especially in the soft parts; excellent use of percussion and very good rythm.
2. C4: Brilliant and energetic performance; the rythm was slightly fast in some sections, though it was vibrant and involving and worked very well during the movement.
3. A7: Very enjoyable, intense and melodious; clear and beautiful sound; there was sometimes a bit too slow tempo, which anyway was able to create enough enphasis and power. 
4. B5: same speech of A7, even if I appreciated the previous performance more.
5. C7: Remarkable, quite bright and harmonic in the soft sections; I didn't like the too slow tempi very much, I was much more impressed in the first movement.

Both C5 and C3 were nice, but sounded lacking some energy and intensity; they didn't strike me too much.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the results! ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 16, 2012, 09:24:41 AM
Group Y:

Rankings:
C1=B5 > C7=A7 > C3 > C5 > C4

Impressions:
C1 and B5 are well judged they are dynamic but not overly so, the tempo should be moderate to allow some breathing room but still sound a bit manic, I think both of these nailed it and the rest didn't.

C7 and A7 are a little slow but handled pretty well, the key is to not overdo Mahler, especially at his most hysterical which the ones below are guilty of.

C3 is overly buoyant, overly accented.  Exuberant but throws away the dark, tragic side of the music.

C5 is too rushed and TOO LOUD.

C4 is overly contrasty, and rushing very fast through some passages and then doing a very Bruno Walter trick-- just stopping and pausing (luftpause) and playing saccharine on the next passage.  The conductor imposes his style too much, just let Mahler be played like Mahler.  This is the only bad performance in pass 2, I can't believe it even made it to pass 2.  Too melodramatic.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 16, 2012, 09:29:54 AM
Thank you both for your votes! Very interesting responses! :)

And David, thanks for doing Group Y at such short notice as well!

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Novi on May 16, 2012, 10:11:54 AM
Top five: A4, A8, B2, B4, B1

Thanks again to madaboutmahler for organising this. This has been really interesting as I'm usually quite a lazy listener and this exercise has forced me to listen more carefully. The first two stand out; there isn't much separating the next three. 


A3:
Ok; but seemed a bit disjointed at times.

A4:
Number one for me: great articulation at the start; tempo changes are well done and transitions into different sections very convincing.

A8:
Overall perhaps a little slow for my tastes, but still like this very much, particularly the attack on certain notes. Nice zing to string portamento. Really liked the long descending passage - the clarity but also the unity.

B1:
Well played but a bit low key. Thought some parts were a little slow - some of the 'nicht schleppen' didn't seem right to me. But I probably enjoyed this one more than my comments suggest.

B2:
Found the tempo changes not as convincing - a bit precipitous, although I'm not familiar enough with the score to know what Mahler stipulates. Sometimes a little ragged at the changes. Did like bits and pieces here and there - nice col legno, for instance, or the bringing out the lower strings at 28:35.

B4:
Lovely ensemble between winds in that early bit. I did like the more biting reading of the violin solo.

B7:
This one dragged a bit in the slow parts, to the point where it lost tension and momentum; found it boring, I'm afraid.

C2:
a bit plodding, a bit bland.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 16, 2012, 10:37:15 AM
It's a pleasure! Thanks for the vote! :)

Waiting for two more votes now - 1 and a half hours left for voting! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 16, 2012, 11:09:41 AM
1 - C1
2 - A7
3 - C4
4 - C7
5-  B5


Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on May 16, 2012, 11:36:53 AM
I'm just curious - has anyone been listening with the score in hand?  I haven't for the first two rounds, but I'm thinking I might do it for the Finale...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 16, 2012, 12:06:44 PM
I'm just curious - has anyone been listening with the score in hand?  I haven't for the first two rounds, but I'm thinking I might do it for the Finale...

I looked at the score while listening to the 1st movement; I think I'll do it again for the Finale as well.....
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Discobole on May 16, 2012, 12:10:21 PM
Again, I must apologize. I didn't have time at all. Very curious to read the results though.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 16, 2012, 12:38:50 PM
Thanks, Sarge. :)

Don't worry, Discobole. :) Hope you'll be able to do the final part!

Ok, voting finished! Just off to go and count up the votes now! Results shall hopefully be posted tommorow evening.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 17, 2012, 01:10:39 PM
Part 2 RESULTS!

#15: B7 Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Segerstam (Chandos/1991)
Despite doing rather well in the first round, this recording was called ‘boring’ and too ‘mannered’. This recording received no votes at all in Part 2.



#14: C5 WDR Orchestra/Mitropoulos (Music&Arts/1959
Never quite recieving top votes from anyone, this recording was criticised as being 'disjointed', 'uninspired' and for the poor control of the orchestra. Many places this as their least favourite, but it was also admired by a few.



#13: A3 New York Philharmonic/Bernstein (Sony/1967)
Bernstein's earlier M6 is also out a relatively early stage, not even making it half way. Some described it is 'a little too straight-forward', 'sluggish' and 'lacking edge'.



#12: B4 Royal Concertgebouw/Chailly (Decca/1997)
Criticised by some as lacking in character, and being a bit bland, and of course a lot slower, than the others, nearly all found a good word to say about this recording, nearly always recieving part of a vote.



#11: C2 Vienna Philharmonic/Maazel (Sony/1992
A performance that recieved mixed responses. At the very top for some, in the middle for others, saying 'good, but nothing spectacular', and at the bottom for others, saying that the performance was 'bland'.



Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 17, 2012, 01:11:21 PM
Part 2 RESULTS! (continued)

#10: C3 Berlin Philharmonic/Abbado (DG/2004)
Praised for the orchestral playing, and mostly liked very much, although sometimes called too deliberate, and lacking energy.



#09: B2 Berlin Philharmonic/Rattle (BPO/1987)
This appears to be a 'love it or hate it' recording. Some commented that the orchestra was 'less than perfect' and 'weak', and that the tempo changes were to exaggerated.
(http://img269.imageshack.us/img269/9776/mahlerrattle6.jpg)

#08: C4 Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Solti (Decca/1972)
Generally much loved, this recording was described by characterful, detailed and bright. However, some believed the conductor was too self-indulgent.



#07: C7 Berlin Philharmonic/Karajan (DG/1978)
Recieving exactly half of it's possible votes, this recording did very well. It was praised for the detail and orchestral playing, but was criticised especially in the scherzo for the slow tempi.



#06: B1 Philharmonia/Sinopoli (DG/1994)
Every voter except one did place this recording within their top 5, just never at the first place. Described as an intense, well-contrasting, but some commented that it lacked an element of playfulness in the scherzo.


Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 17, 2012, 01:13:35 PM
So, there they are, the results for part 2! Any surprises?

A very interesting top 5! Shall be sending out the links for the final part of this comparison during the weekend! Part 3 will be involving the whole last movement for each of the top 5 finalist performances. How long do you want for this?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: trung224 on May 17, 2012, 01:19:18 PM
  Very interesring result, Daniel. With this result in part 2, I think top can be Barbirolli or Tennstedt live. I really want to participate. Can you count me in ?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 17, 2012, 01:28:20 PM
C4 was the Solti and C7 was the Karajan??? :o :o
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on May 17, 2012, 02:37:57 PM
Part 2 RESULTS! (continued)

#10: C3 Berlin Philharmonic/Abbado (DG/2004)
Praised for the orchestral playing, and mostly liked very much, although sometimes called too deliberate, and lacking energy.


(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00092ZAM2.01.L.jpg)
G.Mahler: Symphony No.6
Abbado II
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00092ZAM2/nectarandambr-20)

WETA Mahler Survey
Quote
Abbado’s most recent recording with the Berlin Philharmonic has been hyped, hailed, and awarded. The Gramophone and The Financial Times both raved about it. It wasn’t much to my liking when I reviewed it and it isn’t now. It’s good and excellently played and it’s mild and gentle, genteel and polished—and unfortunately also quite listless, if not comatose.


#07: C7 Berlin Philharmonic/Karajan (DG/1978)
Recieving exactly half of it's possible votes, this recording did very well. It was praised for the detail and orchestral playing, but was criticised especially in the scherzo for the slow tempi.


(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B000006NXR.L.jpg)
G.Mahler: Symphony No.6
Karajan
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000006NXR/nectarandambr-20)
Quote
Karajan’s DG recording of the Sixth is his third-to-last Mahler recording and, along with the second Ninth, his best. Mahler was a composer to whom Karajan found only late in life… and ‘the later, the better’ fully applies to his Mahler recordings (the two to follow were the special accounts of the Ninth) and this one could be in a category of its own. The approach to ‘sound’ that he drilled into the Berlin Philharmonic, the insistence on absolute perfection (at least whenever in the recording studio), that polish, that well-oiled machine… it all works towards a truly spectacular Mahler experience. Surely on the clean side of the raw-genteel divide, it is probably the most propulsive of the “drool-free” versions. It is a little short on any particular Mahler-flavor but it more than makes up for that with its numerous other qualities.

Part 2 RESULTS!


#14: C5 WDR Orchestra/Mitropoulos (Music&Arts/1959
Never quite recieving top votes from anyone, this recording was criticised as being 'disjointed', 'uninspired' and for the poor control of the orchestra. Many places this as their least favourite, but it was also admired by a few.


(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00006J3L9.L.jpg)
G.Mahler: Symphony No.6
Mitropoulos II
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006J3L9/nectarandambr-20)
Quote
but the live-recording with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln from 1959 (at time when “live” meant live!) is riveting, raw, individualistic (still shy of eccentric); truly an edge-of-the-seat reading. (Issued on the Mitropoulos set as part of EMI’s prematurely aborted “Greatest Conductors of the 20th Century” edition, it is still available… while I’m not sure if I trust the sound on the Urania issue currently in print, given bad experience with that label.) That the orchestra struggles in several passages can be troubling—or alternatively seen as furthering that pushed-to-the-brink feeling. The order of the movements here is Scherzo/Andante and that’s how it has been published in all its outings on CD… Mitropoulos curiously having changed the movement-order four years prior to the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft’s critical edition suggesting the Scherzo be placed first. (Most likely Erwin Ratz, founder and editor of the IGMG, and the irrationally ardent supporter of the Scherzo-Andante order mentioned above, had convinced him to do so before a performance in Vienna in 1957.) The sound is admittedly rather limited for most of the first movement but it gets better from thereon… and the rest of the modest quality is adjusted for by the ears. Not a ‘first’ recommendation but a dedicated Mahler listener or any fan of the Sixth won’t pass it up. This recording, unlike some other old and low-fi recordings I have criticized, is one where you definitely can hear and enjoy the interpretive choices.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Discobole on May 17, 2012, 03:52:16 PM
I'm not surprised that C5 was Mitropoulos, I really liked this version from what I heard in part 1, very special and powerful.

The live Rattle from 1987 is really great, it's a little sad that it didn't make it to the next level.

I can't say I'm surprised that Karajan is eliminated. And even less about Solti, Chailly, Abbado, who were never good in this symphony. And Maazel, really, what for ?

So there remains 5 versions ? How are you going to organize the finals ? Ideally we should listen to the 3 excerpts for each...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 17, 2012, 06:29:49 PM
I feel great that this is proof that my taste in recordings survives the blind listening.  Stuff I liked, I liked blind, ditto stuff I dislike.  Sarge will murder me for knocking Solti out of the running, but it had to be done! >:D  Actually that is exactly what Solti does... he polarizes.  Look how divisive the opinions are!

I was surprised that non-blind listening I thought the sony Bernstein was too fast, when I thought nothing but awesome blindly!

I'm glad to see that my two favs of round 2 live to survive another round.  I really can't wait to see what A4 and B5 are.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 17, 2012, 06:32:50 PM
I was really curious who C4 was. In hindsight Solti makes perfect sense. He's  been described as relentless, brutal even, and those excerpts showed that. I still want hear his whole recording.
I had called C2 and C3 as reaching, for me, the mediocre Abbado plateau and C3 was Abaddo! Do I win anything?  ;D
Sorry to see the Sinopoli go. I had liked it a lot in round one but he wasn't one of my choices in round two.
I had a feeling the Karajan was here and wouldn't go too far. I used to like it and loved it in round one, not so much in round 2, but it's been eclipsed by others.
The first Bernstein was another I didn't think would last. His later recording is much better and that one didn't make it past round one.
So of my favorites, B5, C1, A7 remain, I think, but really only one of those I'm rooting for.
 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 17, 2012, 09:09:37 PM
Interesting that three of the finalists are from the A group. Those three that are left from that group have always received top three votes from me in both rounds (when heard). I was also intrigued that my second place vote for the scherzo was Rattle.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: fridden on May 17, 2012, 09:42:24 PM
Hm, I was surprised I rated Rattled so high, because when I have listened to Rattle in Mahler before I havent been that impressed.
I am also sad to see Solti go, because his 6th is among my favorites!

This is like a suspense thriller, who are the last 5!!  :P

/fridden
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 17, 2012, 10:46:20 PM
  Very interesring result, Daniel. With this result in part 2, I think top can be Barbirolli or Tennstedt live. I really want to participate. Can you count me in ?

Will be very happy to count you in! :)

C4 was the Solti and C7 was the Karajan??? :o :o

:D

Enjoyed reading all your feedback and seeing how surprised you are at some of the results!
I was sad to see the Solti go, but am pleased with the final 5, a surprising list!
And, in terms of how we are going to organize the final part, there are two options. Which would you rather go with:
a) compare the top 5 versions of the entire final movement.
b) compare the top 5 versions of 5 minute excerpts from the first three movements, along with a 15 minute excerpt from the finale.

Whichever is the most popular option, I shall go with.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Novi on May 17, 2012, 10:57:07 PM
Happy to see A4 and A8 (my top two from round 2) as well as A7, which I also liked from round 1, go through to the final.

Of the ones from my groups that have been revealed, I've only heard the Horenstein (eliminated first round) and the Bernstein NYPO - can't say I recognised them at all, but do remember finding the Horenstein rigid, especially in terms of tempo.

I wonder how listening and judging on a shortish excerpt affects the overall results. For instance, I like the Karajan and remember it to be a painfully beautiful reading, but perhaps that's the Andante I'm thinking of (it's been a few years), and off hand, I can't remember what the Scherzo was like. I've enjoyed Abbado's more temperate reading in the past, but wonder if I would've found it a bit bland had I listened to it blindly. A little sad to see the Mitropoulos go - I think that's the most recent 6th that I've listened to, and even that's a year or two ago; I really liked it's do-or-die roughness, but agree that it's not really top 5 material.

Can't wait to hear the finalists, especially since madaboutmahler suggests that it's a surprising list. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: eyeresist on May 17, 2012, 11:17:13 PM
And, in terms of how we are going to organize the final part, there are two options. Which would you rather go with:
a) compare the top 5 versions of the entire final movement.
b) compare the top 5 versions of 5 minute excerpts from the first three movements, along with a 15 minute excerpt from the finale.

Whichever is the most popular option, I shall go with.

I'm not playing, just watching, but if you've been using entire movements so far, I'd suggest sticking with that.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 18, 2012, 12:29:27 AM
:D

Enjoyed reading all your feedback and seeing how surprised you are at some of the results!
I was sad to see the Solti go, but am pleased with the final 5, a surprising list!
And, in terms of how we are going to organize the final part, there are two options. Which would you rather go with:
a) compare the top 5 versions of the entire final movement.
b) compare the top 5 versions of 5 minute excerpts from the first three movements, along with a 15 minute excerpt from the finale.

Quite surprised for the results, definitely!
I'm sorry both the Karajan and the Solti didn't pass the turn, at this point I'm very curious to listen to the final 5 recordings! :)
I think the second option could be a brilliant idea, hearing excerpts from every movement would be very beautiful and much helpful to judge better. I'm really looking forward to starting the final part, this blind comparison is such a massive fun, so much wonderful music!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Discobole on May 18, 2012, 12:47:47 AM
I think we should listen to each movement, otherwise the winner won't be the best version of the symphony, but the best version of the last movement...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on May 18, 2012, 01:34:19 AM
I think we should listen to each movement, otherwise the winner won't be the best version of the symphony, but the best version of the last movement...

True. Any Mahler symphony is much more than the sum of its parts. I can think of many a performance that achieves greatness out of individual moments that are not themselves impressive... and similarly interpretations that cast glory on many moments but 'don't come together'. If I may chime in, from the outside.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 18, 2012, 01:38:24 AM
Sarge will murder me for knocking Solti out of the running, but it had to be done! >:D  Actually that is exactly what Solti does... he polarizes.  Look how divisive the opinions are!

Yeah, I was pretty upset when I saw you trashed it  ;D  I knew C4 was Solti. His Scherzo is quite distinctive. I recognized it immediately. I thought, briefly, about retaliating and placing B5 at the bottom, but I couldn't do it. Since Solti is my favorite 6th as a whole (I'm especially taken with his first and last movements), I could have cheated and placed it first (would that have pushed it into the third round, Daniel?) but I had to be honest, with myself, with you guys: I prefer the Scherzos I heard in C1 and A7. Liked their recorded sound more too.

Going back to the votes, how did B5 make it into the finals ahead of C4? Here are the votes:

C4 1 2 3 4 7
B5 2 4 5 5 6

I guess I don't understand how the voting works because it appears to me C4 (Solti) was placed higher by more people (four votes in the top four with one first place vote vs two votes in the top four with no first place votes). How did B5 beat C4?

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 18, 2012, 01:40:47 AM
a) compare the top 5 versions of the entire final movement.
b) compare the top 5 versions of 5 minute excerpts from the first three movements, along with a 15 minute excerpt from the finale.

I'd prefer to hear full movements.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 18, 2012, 01:59:00 AM
I'm sorry both the Karajan and the Solti didn't pass the turn

Four out of my top five are now gone  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 18, 2012, 02:22:30 AM
a) compare the top 5 versions of the entire final movement.
b) compare the top 5 versions of 5 minute excerpts from the first three movements, along with a 15 minute excerpt from the finale.

I'd like to hear some of the andante, so if A or B are the only choices, I'd go with B. I'd also like to hear the movements others heard but were not in my groupings. And I think a 15-minute last movement segment is generous considering how many minutes of music we'll be listening to.

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 18, 2012, 02:29:46 AM
Four out of my top five are now gone  ;D

Sarge

All my top three are now gone. :( ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 18, 2012, 02:38:05 AM
And I think a 15-minute last movement segment is generous considering how many minutes of music we'll be listening to.

The problem with that is: which 15 minutes? Beginning, middle or end? How a conductor organizes and presents the whole Finale is important (arguably more important here than in the first three movements). I want to hear the atmosphere established at the beginning of the movement; I want hear how he builds the music to the three climaxes, and I definitely want to hear how he handles the end, and if he includes the third hammerblow. 15 minutes won't cover all that.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on May 18, 2012, 03:04:59 AM
Why not both? We can have 5 min of previous movements and the entire final movement. I am more than willing to listen to an additional 75 min - in fact, I would enjoy it. But any decision is fine by me.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 18, 2012, 03:11:47 AM
How about  five minutes of the andante and the whole final movement? But if it has to be 15minutes of it (almost half the length of the movement) I'd make it the last 15 minutes. 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 18, 2012, 04:04:07 AM
How about  five minutes of the andante and the whole final movement? But if it has to be 15minutes of it (almost half the length of the movement) I'd make it the last 15 minutes.

This.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 18, 2012, 04:05:08 AM
Sarge I am as surprised by you that B5 wasn't eliminated, and I thought that my vote wouldn't be good enough to eliminate Solti.  It is a little puzzling.  Even by that method that Discobole and I use, B5 still should have been eliminated.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 18, 2012, 12:11:57 PM
Thank you all for your feedback on this.

Why not both? We can have 5 min of previous movements and the entire final movement. I am more than willing to listen to an additional 75 min - in fact, I would enjoy it. But any decision is fine by me.

I rather like this idea, it's just whether people have the time... it would come to around 45 minutes to just listen to one of the performances, and then you would have to times that by 5....
I think it is a good idea to include excerpts from all the movements, and I completely agree with Sarge in believeing that it would be hard to just take an excerpt from the finale.

So, is everyone happy with Neal's suggestion?

Sarge and David, concerning the ranking process, in Part 2, I also included the votes the recording had recieved from Part 1 to make the final percentage for that part. B5 did particularly well in Part 1, scoring 90% of it's possible votes, that is probably what made it go through to the finale. Solti in C4 did not do quite as well. And Sarge, if you had placed Solti first for your Part 2 vote, it would not have got him to the final, but would have pushed him up one space on the leader board. :)

Any queries, I'd be happy to try my best to answer them!

Very interesting to read all of your responses, glad you are enjoying it! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on May 18, 2012, 12:58:49 PM
So instead of "a" or "b"  it's going to be "a" and "b"?
Cool  8)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidW on May 18, 2012, 03:00:37 PM
Thanks for explaining, that makes perfect sense, it was more work for you though, I appreciate it.

I'm also cool with your plans for the final pass.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: fridden on May 18, 2012, 08:47:34 PM

I rather like this idea, it's just whether people have the time... it would come to around 45 minutes to just listen to one of the performances, and then you would have to times that by 5....


The more Mahler the better, so for me it's good!

/fridden
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on May 19, 2012, 12:50:16 AM
So, is everyone happy with Neal's suggestion?


I'm happy  :D

Sarge and David, concerning the ranking process, in Part 2, I also included the votes the recording had recieved from Part 1 to make the final percentage for that part.

Thanks for the explanation.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 19, 2012, 01:07:08 AM
If we get enough time, I'm game.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 19, 2012, 01:27:50 AM
Excellent, I'm looking forward to starting the final turn ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on May 19, 2012, 08:25:04 AM
Though I haven't time to participate, I am interested in this project. Not knowing which recordings have been selected for comparison (except for those which have been eliminated already), it's interesting that most of those I like most are either still in the running or were never selected in the first place!  (Boulez/WP, MTT/SFS, Bernstein/WP, Gielen, Barbirolli, Fischer -- not in any particular order) Only the Bernstein is gone and it's noteworthy that many others share my surprise and dismay. It's also pleasing to see the Sinopoli so well received!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 19, 2012, 08:45:31 AM
Glad to hear you are all happy with the plan for the 3rd part! Thank you, Neal, for that suggestion.

I shall hopefully send out this part tommorow afternoon. hmmm... Thinking of the voting deadline... I'm aware that you will have a lot to listen to. So, is the 11th June alright? If there are any problems, please let me know! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: fridden on May 19, 2012, 08:49:33 AM
So, is the 11th May alright? If there are any problems, please let me know! :)

Well the 11th of May would be difficult unless you are thinking about 11th of may 2013 ?  :P

I guess you meant 11th June?

/fridden
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 19, 2012, 08:50:56 AM
Well the 11th of May would be difficult unless you are thinking about 11th of may 2013 ?  :P

I guess you meant 11th June?

/fridden

haha, I stand corrected!   ;D Shall edit! :)

Yes, the 11th June. :) Thanks, Fridden!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 21, 2012, 08:09:55 AM
Sorting out the links now. The andante is certainly very difficult to choose an excerpt from!

What I am going to do is have two links for each performance. Link 1 will include the excerpts from the 1st - 3rd movements, which in total will come to a little over 15 minutes. Link 2 will include the entire final movement.

I'll try and get these sent out by tommorow evening. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 24, 2012, 01:12:01 PM
Apologies for taking so long to get the Part 3 links out. I have all the audios ready, just need to upload them to youtube. I started uploading them to youtube this evening, and have had the time to upload around half of the links, but my computer was being incredibly slow so I couldn't upload them all.

Hopefully will have them sent out tommorow evening though! :)

It think it's a great Top 5, so I am very excited to see what the responses will be! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 24, 2012, 01:27:42 PM
We're a patient bunch... * plays with hammer *
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 27, 2012, 09:42:38 AM
We're a patient bunch... * plays with hammer *

haha - They'll be plenty of hammers in this part of the comparison... :D

Thank you all for being so patient, the last couple of days have been extremely hectic and exhausting, and the extreme heat we suddenly appear to have in England was not helping!

But now, all of you should have recieved all the links for this part of the comparison, in two formats, you can choose which you use.

When voting, please rank all 5 of the recordings in preference, from bottom to top. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any problems...

Happy Voting! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 27, 2012, 10:18:04 AM
Thanks, Daniel! I am looking forward to this. One private benchmark moment in the Finale has always been the miraculous and spooky transition from development to recapitulation. It will be very interesting to see how the different conductors shape it...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 27, 2012, 10:19:47 AM
Thanks, Daniel! I am looking forward to this. One private benchmark moment in the Finale has always been the miraculous and spooky transition from development to recapitulation. It will be very interesting to see how the different conductors shape it...

My pleasure, Johan. Certainly an amazing moment, and each of the 5 conductors do it very differently... a very contrasting bunch in the final! ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 27, 2012, 10:47:34 AM
Great, it will certainly be amazing; I'm looking forward to listening to the finalists and knowing which one will be the winner at the end. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 27, 2012, 11:02:43 AM
Great, it will certainly be amazing; I'm looking forward to listening to the finalists and knowing which one will be the winner at the end. :)

And I am very excited to see which one you all vote as the winner... :D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on May 28, 2012, 08:17:35 AM
Thank you for preparing this comparison, Daniel. Today is a holiday in the States, consequently I had some free time last night and this morning to listen to the samples in the final round. My notes indicate a very consistent preference for the most and least liked recordings in this group, but the middle three were much closer with preferences less consistent from movement sample to movement sample.

I thought the overall quality was very high, both in interpretation and in orchestral playing.  The "worst" of the five was still pretty darned good, even if clearly not to my taste.

From worst to first, here are my rankings, together with the general impression of each gathered from my notes. 

5. A4 - Consistently my least favorite.  Overly bombastic, often seeming like punched-up movie music -- not at all necessary with such powerful stuff. As Mies said, "Less is more." (Not always, but more often than not, methinks.) In addition to being a bit heavy-handed and driven, the orchestral balances often obscure detail -- as much a function of interpretive choice as of recording quality, I believe.

4. C1 - Significantly better than A4, still tends to push a bit in tempo changes but overall tempo and dynamic choices are very good. Nicely languid and lyrical when called for. Some faults with entrance timings that are not player errors but interpretive choices I believe, muddying complex rhythms.

3. A8 - Fantastic orchestra with great tone. Often verging on heavy-handedness at transitions but not crossing the line and pulling back to judicious restraint.  Phrasing just a bit overly shaped. Marches tend toward jauntiness at times when I think grimness is called for. But overall a very good recording and very close to my second choice, below.

2. B5 - Interventionist but with judiciously chosen gear changes and emphases. Expresses appropriate nostalgic longing and mystery. Feels slow but graceful, weighty but not ponderous. Excellent dynamic balances and brass playing. Often a near tie with my top choice, below.

1. A7 - Consistently my top choice. The music simply unfolds, never seeming pushed or stretched or pumped-up by a conductor interested in putting his stamp on Mahler's music, but only in revealing what the score is meant to describe. It's grand and majestic, portentious and weighty, or sensitive and thoughtful wherever required. No false steps. Excellent balance, tempi, and timing throughout. Gorgeous brass. Never heavy-handed and this orchestra really gets it -- very responsive and nuanced. Terrific clarity and detail and I just love the beautifully sustained brass harmonies and the percussion at the end.

If A7 isn't one I already own, I'll buy it right after the reveal!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on May 28, 2012, 08:57:35 AM
Wow - that was quick! Thank you very much for the vote, David! Very interesting comments. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on June 01, 2012, 01:52:51 AM
A mid-term report.
This is tough! I'm getting a sense of which last movement versions I prefer, but if I make the mistake of listening to one right after another, I'm invariably disinclined to like the second interpretation as much. That happened just last night when I listened to the version I am leaning toward after a version I was certain would not be my final pick. I couldn't get through my favored version, so emotionally draining was the first performance.
The last movement is amazing and one at a time is overwhelming enough. Each recording has something to offer. I need to separate performances by a day or two.
Not complaining, just saying this won't be easy. But it is rewarding. I've never listened to the symphony so carefully.    :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 06, 2012, 02:19:05 AM
Just a reminder that there is a week until the voting deadline! As only one person has placed their vote yet, and I am aware of how much there is to listen to, do you another week? That would make the new voting deadline the 21st.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on June 07, 2012, 05:05:22 PM
At the end it boiled down to a battle between C1 and A7 with A8 a close third.

All three are excellent performances of the final movement; actually they all are. C1 pulls at the score much more than A7 yet both are exciting recordings that bring out what I love hearing in Mahler, the passion, angst, melancholia, bombast, terror (in this symphony), schmalz, beauty. A7 might be a more general recommendation, but for me C1 is the one I favor.

A7 is a desert island disc if you are stuck with never being able to hear another version. It's perfectly proportioned, you could bring it home to meet your mother but still find it enthralling in your private moments. Exciting, devastating, it will always appeal.  C1 might not, it's more visceral, a little sluttier, more daring, yet still is gorgeous, scary Mahler. More an individual performance but not at the expense of Mahler.

But I have to confess I finally got to this position only after listening to the eliminated Bernstein Vienna performance, which is even more willful, but is overpowering. I'm sad Bernstein was eliminated so that no one got to hear his final movement, but I'm happy with C1.

A8 was number three, ominous mystery a the start, beautifully played throughout, It was hard to find any fault with it. It just didn't quite match the top two. I want to feel assaulted, breathless,  by the third climax. Didn't quite get there (but awfully close) If I heard it in concert I would have walked out of the concert hall overwhelmed.

B5 didn't seem quite as well integrated as my top three, lost points by speeding up in the bases when it wasn't called for, didn't quite carry me along all the way through as did the top three. Also, there sounds like a severe tape splice at 9:29 of the YouTube recording amidst all the percussive bells. Is that even possible in this age of digital recording? (I'm guessing B5 is digital.) I had to go back to the other recordings to be relatively sure. Nice timpani, though, and a very good third section. (I think you would have to hang up your conductor stripes to blow it completely there.)

A4, as with another commenter, brought up the rear, which isn't really fair and I don't mind exaggerating the score, it just never grabbed me the way the others did. But it was still a wonderful recording. I didn't really hear that much exaggeration anyway.

As for the first three movements, no andante particularly bowled me over, and C1 was actually hurt by an accelerated tempo in the scherzo that didn't appeal to me, but listening to the earlier movements helped me to understand performances I hadn't heard in earlier rounds.

So,
1. C1  :-*
2. A7   :D
3. A8  :)
4. B5 :)
5. A4  :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 08, 2012, 12:12:38 AM
Here are my comments for the Mahler 6 Finals:

I can honestly say that I did not recognize any of the versions in the final (not unexpected for me), so it was a true blind listening exercise for me. And I thoroughly enjoyed it (and my appreciation for the work has significantly increased). I would not be disappointed to own any of these versions – I think they were all quite worthy, which made the choice so hard (and more a question of one’s preference rather than thinking one of them got it wrong per se). My rankings for the final were as follows:

5th Place: A4. What gorgeous sounds! There are some devastatingly successful crescendos! Intensity is not an issue here!  Second part of clip loses none of the intensity, and the low brass are scary. And then it is almost dainty, though this was a less successful part in my opinion.  To the third part of the clip – ok, though a wonderful tutti (and I loved it there to the end of the clip, where it ends more gently than played elsewhere).  The last movement is very much consistent with the earlier movements. Overall, this is a version of intensity and some searing moments.  Not quite a first choice for me, but very well played nonetheless.  This version seems to tone down the darkness compared to some of the others, which is the biggest differentiator.

4th Place: B5. This one has a bit more emotional approach. Sound is again good.  The initial slower tempo to the march has it sounding a bit funereal. The phrasing is a bit too staccato, I think, in some exposed moments. Still, wonderful start. Second part of clip is nice, but not distinctive early going. Also, the slower tempo makes it drag here at the start. It picks up, but it took some time for me to get back into it.  Third part of first clip was very nice.  Second clip starts with a bit of mystery, but a bit lacking in momentum at the start. This clip sounded more episodic than connected, at times especially compared to A7 or A8.  The end of the clip actually sounds more Wagnerian in a few moments, which I rather liked. The very end is nicely dark. Overall then, this was still pretty good.   

3rd Place: C1. A nice start. Beautiful sound on this too. And what a difference in the staccato of the march compared to the previous (B5) – this one really breathes. A lot of detail noticeable on this one. There is great intensity in this one, though there is a certain lightness to it. Second part of clip differentiates it well (perhaps the best of all in this part). On the negative side, on occasion the ensemble loses cohesion. Third part of clip was wonderful.  The second clip starts strong, but is not as dark or mysterious as others.  Not quite as weighty as it could be (but did love the sound the lower strings create).  But overall, an engaging version.

2nd Place: A8.  The beginning of this clip starts with a nice lilt to it. This one has more edge to it, but mixed with some wonderful lyricism.  But it has less ‘ba-boom’ than A7. Second part of the first clip is more march like. It differentiates the interpretation, but not sure I like it that way. Third part of first clip is strong, but more like A4 than A7. The second clip is very good. There is power and strength, and a beautiful sound. It doesn’t quite have the darkness that A7 had (probably because the low brass don’t have quite the same presence in some moments), but this seems like a very good straight interpretation.  Overall, another good version.  Deciding between this one and C1 was difficult as I liked both, but for different reaons.   

1st Place: A7.  One feels an immediate emotional response to this version. I’m tingling. This one is going to be heartbreaking I fear. The phrasing and the way it shapes the sound is so well done. Second part of first clip is light and airy, making a nice contrast with the first part. Delicious third part.  In the second clip, there are some amazing climaxes.  Nothing here seems out of place for the conception. This one engages me emotionally and really hits hard.  The end is much darker, and much more as I think it was intended to be. I will buy this recording after it is revealed.

In the end, A7 is the outright winner for me. It does everything right and hits all the buttons. A8 and C1 are close in quality, and they are different from each other, which makes it hard to pick between them. B5 and A4 round out the pack, but these are still very good versions. I would not be disappointed to own any of these.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 08, 2012, 02:17:39 AM
Thank you both very much for your votes, Jim and Neal! Very interesting comments, and I am really glad that you are enjoying the comparison so much. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 08, 2012, 02:28:54 AM
Very interesting to read the other comments for me as well. They fairly represent the versions I think, even though I had different preferences. It's not often that happens.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on June 08, 2012, 02:35:40 AM
I agree with Neil. Responses here have been learning experiences.
But I have to apologize for my illiterate "speeding up in the bases."   :-[
No one's trying to steal third.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: trung224 on June 08, 2012, 03:54:17 PM
 I have just finished my listening. Here is my result
  5th place: B5.  I hate this version. I don't know how this version can put the highly characteristic of Karajan or Solti out of the list. Excellent sound, everything is balance to fault. >:D
  4th place: A4. Personally I don't like "classical" style when performing Mahler. This version has the gorgeous sound, highly clarity of inner detail. The building climax in the finale is great, but this version still lacks the darkness, the tragic of the symphony because of the detached playing in the first 3 movement . But everyone has their own taste.  ;)
  3th place: A8. Excellent sound, but unlike B5 or C4, this version has the driven and intensity. Really I don't find any fault in this version, perhaps the interpretation is too straight-forward, do not "schwung"
  2th place C1: It is very hard to choose between C1 and A7. Both version do not have the great sound, but the interpretation is truly great. C1 combine the darkness and the lyrical aspect of the score very well, but because of live performance, sometimes the execution is not precise
  1th place A7. Like the Tennstedt' Mahler 5 live EMI, the intensity and tragic is the character of this version, in expense of lightness and love. Perhaps I have the bias but this version must be the Barbirolli studio recording because no one except Barbirolli can maintain the intensity and tragic at the slow tempo throughout 4 movements.
 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 09, 2012, 12:47:26 PM
Thank you very much for your vote! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 15, 2012, 09:37:43 AM
Is it too late to participate?   
How do I access the different versions?

Thanks ... A
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 15, 2012, 11:43:00 AM
Is it too late to participate?   
How do I access the different versions?

Thanks ... A

I will send you the links now, it's not too late to join! The voting deadline is in around 10 days, but that can be extended. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 15, 2012, 01:18:03 PM
Thanks .... links received. 
Best wishes .... Alkan
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: nico1616 on June 16, 2012, 03:30:44 AM
I will send you the links now, it's not too late to join! The voting deadline is in around 10 days, but that can be extended. :)

If it is still possible, I would also like to join in. The 6th is becoming one of my favorites  :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 16, 2012, 09:07:26 AM
If it is still possible, I would also like to join in. The 6th is becoming one of my favorites  :)
I am very glad that you want to take part, Nico, and that the 6th is becoming a favourite of yours! Shall send the links now. :)


REMINDER:
The deadline is the 21st. Is everyone going to get their votes in by then? Who thinks that they will need longer? Please let me know! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 17, 2012, 06:19:58 AM
So, it's the 21st now? Then I think I can make it. For one reason or another, I have been far more busy than I could foresee when I blithely joined this very enjoyable game...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 17, 2012, 06:29:17 AM
So, it's the 21st now? Then I think I can make it. For one reason or another, I have been far more busy than I could foresee when I blithely joined this very enjoyable game...

Yes, the deadline is the 21st, Johan. Glad to hear that you should be able to make it, very excited to see your vote! The voting deadline is likely to be extended anyway, unless everyone manages to get their votes in the next 4 days!  :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 20, 2012, 08:41:39 AM
Before submitting my vote I would like to put it into context.    I did not participate in the earlier rounds of the blind-test and I not I do not pretend to be an authority on Mahler or this symphony …. the following comments are simply my personal reaction to the music that I hear.

For me, the finale of the 6th is a heroic conflict that eventually ends tragically.   If you are not exhausted by the end there is something wrong with either the interpretation or yourself (listening to 5 versions over a few days is tough)!      So, the music needs to played with a maximum of emotion all the time.   All excesses that do not distort or disfigure the music are permitted.   What is forbidden is lack of engagement, weakness, detachment, routine playing, etc …     I prepare myself for a roller coaster ride, and if I don’t get one then I will have a poor opinion of the interpretation.

I divide the finale into three main sections as follows:

(a)   Introduction : It seems like awakening from a trance into a kind of nightmare.  The drumbeat is important and should dominate … it’s the enemy and it’s fearsome.   The music sets the scene for what the hero is up against.   It’s a preview of what’s to come, but done in a brooding, menacing way.   The whole atmosphere should be phantasmagoric, nightmarish, and unreal.  Nevertheless, the hero girds his loins with a couple of valiant and defiant climaxes and picks up his sword ….

(b)   Combat :  This is the heart of the finale and is split into three sections of struggle separated by two sections of convalescence/recovery.     For me, the transition from the introduction to the first fight is a key moment, and I have never really heard it played the way I want it!    After a heroic climax dies down, there is a kind of “taunt” from the cellos and basses … it’s menacing, arrogant and it also signals “seconds out” (as in a boxing match).   The hero’s reply should be immediate, instinctive and bold.     Very often this is played too softly or too weakly, or as a lead-in to the drama.   Noooo!   The hero jumps into the ring and starts sparring!      The fight music is brutal and savage and should be played accordingly.   It’s all short phrases, blow and counter-blow, no development, no direction, … just pounding away relentlessly.    After a hammer-blow and further struggles, the hero staggers away and it’s back to square one (the harps and dream music that open the finale).  There is a period of convalescence before the nightmare returns.   I am reminded of Terry Gilliam’s wonderful film “Brazil” where the hero retires into his dreams to protect himself from the horrors of the real world.    The second “convalescence” sequence is the longest, and having lost the first couple of battles the hero seems to be preparing himself for the final showdown.    Everything appears to be going well and the music builds power and momentum until there is a fatal dissonance from the woodwind which is immediately seized upon by the “fate” drumbeat.   I find this to have more impact than the well-known “hammer blows” … it feels like a stab in the back.    After that, the final struggle is bitter, long, painful and merciless, but above all there is a desperate feeling that it is a lost cause.   The final blow comes more as a relief than a shock ….     Whew, I’m exhausted just writing this, but I hope that it conveys something of what I’m looking for in my ideal performance. 
 
(c)   Funeral and final shock : The last section needs little description … the hero is dead.   There is funeral music and intense mourning.   And then …..    well, I’m reminded of another film;   Brian de Palma’s “Carrie”.     The shocking ending where a girl stoops to place flowers on Carrie’s grave.   There is sadness, tears, sweet music ….  and suddenly a hand bursts violently out of the earth to grip her wrist.      It’s totally unexpected, appalling and heart-stopping.


I hope this gives you an idea of where I’m coming from.   It’s more than music.  It’s an emotional experience.

I regret to say that none of the 5 finales in the blind test displace my current favourites (who are Solti/CSO and Bernstein/VPO), although one comes close.     Solti is without peer in the central fight music and always leaves me reeling.   Although Bernstein is good here, he does let the tension slip a couple of times.   On the other hand, Bernstein is marvelous in the introduction and last section.    I have not (yet) heard other famous recordings from Karajan, Haitink, Abbado, MTT, etc.

So, finally, my vote, along with a few comments on each version.    I have put an overall ranking plus a mark (out of 10) for each of the three sections I described earlier.

5th place : B5
•   Introduction : 5/10.   The first climax sounded a bit low key … perhaps an old recording.  Drum motif rather faint.    Rather deliberate and classical and lacking some of the fantasy atmosphere.   The climaxes were a little rushed and lost impact.
•   Combat : 6/10.   Transition was poor.   Too flat … no dramatic impact.   Fight music was good but not great.   It drove forward, maintained tension and was generally powerful, but it sounded a little too “civilized” to me.  Not savage enough. The hammer blows were faint.   
•   Ending : 4/10.    The final shock was far too light and “matter of fact”.   Very disappointing and would not frighten a fly.

4th place : A8
•   Introduction : 6/10.    A live performance with some coughs and background noise which detracts somewhat from the “nightmare atmosphere”.   Fairly slow and controlled.   A very good but ultimately not memorable interpretation.   
•   Combat : 6/10.   Similar to A4, the transition is too “gentle” and the fight music starts slowly.   Unfortunately it continues this way for quite some time and to me it sounds a bit mannered and without tension.    The sharp edges are rounded.   However, things improved noticeably later on and the emotional level went up several notches.   The last fight sequence is powerful but the climax is disappointingly un-cataclysmic.
•   Ending : 6/10. Atmospheric and powerful, but again the magic is diminished by audience coughs.

3rd place : A4
•   Introduction : 7/10.     Very good.   Excellent balance, drum beats clear and dominant and generally very intense and controlled, but missing a bit of fantasy atmosphere.  Great build up to the final climax before the transition.  My guess is that this is Boulez. 
•   Combat : 7/10.     It starts badly with a low-key transition (no drama, no emotion) and a slow start to the fight music.   But then the intensity is wound up notch by notch and what follows is splendid.   Excellent playing, everything clear, balanced and in place.  The climaxes are exciting and powerful.   But it just lacks a bit of emotion and hysteria.   Hammer blows are faint.
•   Ending : 7/10.    On the same level as the rest.   Impressive, but a tiny bit too classical for my taste.   

2nd place : C1
•   Introduction : 8/10.    Excellent.   A bit slow and deliberate, but tense, atmospheric and concentrated.  The fantasy/dream aspect was superb.   Didn’t like slight accelerando into the climaxes (artificial).   A great start to the finale …
•   Combat 7/10 : Transition was not bad, better than the other versions but not perfect (lacking a last ounce of aggression).   The fight music was powerfully played and well recorded but I found that it sometimes sounded a little too deliberate and lacked some bite and savagery.    The tension fell from time to time and some passages lacked punch.    The second section of fight music (containing the “whipped music”) started well with a tremendous build-up of tension, but at the climax (where the music reaches breaking point) there was a horrible rallentando …. awful !    All the tension was destroyed and the following section (with the tapping stick) was frankly boring.   The conductor was eventually obliged to speed things up again later.  The final fight section was powerful, but again there were artificial slow-downs/speed-ups that I did not like.   I think that this music should be relentless and the best recordings are when the conductor chooses a tempo and sticks implacably to it.    Apart from the aforementioned flaws, the rest had a definite impact.   
•   Ending : 7/10.  Atmospheric and well handled.   

1st place : A7
•   Introduction : 8/10.   Slow, but gripping!   Wonderful intensity and atmosphere.   There were some incredible orchestral effects and the recording was excellent (very clear and transparent).    An almighty final climax that was awe-inspiring, but which had the side effect of putting the transition and start of the fight music in the shade a bit.    Marred by the willful distortion of the drumbeat rhythm which I just could not get used to.   I don’t see what was gained by playing it this way ….    But all the rest was so good I give it a high mark.
•   Combat : 8/10.    This was interesting.   A very slow, deliberate tempo was maintained, but with tremendous concentration and tension.    As a result, the “fight” was a bit different … it was less violent but more relentless and nagging … difficult to put into words, but rather like fighting an octopus instead of a tiger.   It’s not what I am used to, but it was gripping, bizarre and it really worked for me.   The brass section in the build up to the “whipped music” was unbelievable.     The woodwind in the final fight section was absolutely screaming.  The agonizing  wind-up to the final cataclysm was devastating ...    Unconventional but a truly great interpretation.    My guess is Barbirolli.
•   Ending : 7/10.     Worthy of being the sound-track to “Carrie” (see section (c) of my intro above), but unfortunately marred by the odd drum motif.


Thanks to madaboutmahler for organizing this.  I’m going to lie down and have a rest now…..
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 20, 2012, 08:52:46 AM
Great post, thank you for posting all your thoughts! Very interesting to read! Solti is also my favourite 6th at the moment, Bernstein DG too, both brilliant performances. Was happy with most that made it to the final though! :)
My pleasure! Yes, have a rest now! ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: nico1616 on June 20, 2012, 09:29:21 AM
Very difficult to rate, but one version popped out, two were not my taste and two were very good.
I also participated only in this last round. But it is already difficult to compare 5 versions, let alone 24 ...

5th place: A8
A live performance in poor sound, not transparant at all. I particularly did not like the sound of the strings in all sections, and the woodwinds in the andante.
The finale was a little too bombastic for me
Overall you get a muddy effect in which the quality of Mahler's orchestration is not at all highlighted.

4the place: A4
Here the orchestration is very transparant and in the 2nd and 4th movement, quite an original approach. But the changes of tempo are often strange, even brutal.
What puts me off here is the andante, I do not hear the line, it is a little messy and does not move me at all.

3th place: B5
Nice colour of orchestra, I especially like the trumpets and horns. A decent overall middle of the road version, with an andante that not convinces me completely

2nd place: C1
Very clear structure and great sound. Tempos are on the fast side, but it works because the orchestra can handle it so well. Great energy.

1st place: A7
This one is magical from the beginning to the end. It has all the energy and tension you can imagine and is so original that I was baffled. The andante is just heartbreaking. It is not a version I own, because I had not yet heard Mahler's 6th in that way. You hear a conductor who groans and moans. An other user thinks this is Barbirolli and indeed, this groaning could be the same as in his legendary EMI Butterfly recording or in Elgar's cello concerto with du Pré.
I certainly will buy this one :D

Thank you Daniel for the pleasure of participating!
Nico
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 20, 2012, 09:36:40 AM
Thank you very much for your vote, Nico!

My pleasure, glad you enjoyed it! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 20, 2012, 12:09:55 PM
Finally, I've got time! I'll be listening the coming hours...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 20, 2012, 12:41:20 PM
Finally, I've got time! I'll be listening the coming hours...

Excellent, Johan! Hope you enjoy it, I look forward to seeing your vote! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 20, 2012, 01:32:02 PM
Just listened to A4, the fragments of the first three movements, on YouTube. The same was not possible for the Finale, for copyright reasons, so I had to download it... (I haven't read the other contributions, so perhaps others have had the same problem...)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 20, 2012, 08:23:44 PM
Just listened to A4, the fragments of the first three movements, on YouTube. The same was not possible for the Finale, for copyright reasons, so I had to download it... (I haven't read the other contributions, so perhaps others have had the same problem...)
Strange - the was the only one I had problems with too and had to download. The rest were fine for me if that helps.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 21, 2012, 03:39:21 AM
Yes, the deadline is the 21st, Johan. Glad to hear that you should be able to make it, very excited to see your vote! The voting deadline is likely to be extended anyway, unless everyone manages to get their votes in the next 4 days!  :)

I've been through the recordings once, but want to do it again before voting. I'll listen later this afternoon and evening. Don't announce an extention yet! If you do, I'll just continue to procrastinate  ;D  But you know, I don't think my vote is going to count anyway. It looks like we have a winner already....and I ain't happy about it!  >:(   :D

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 21, 2012, 04:07:10 AM
I've been through the recordings once, but want to do it again before voting. I'll listen later this afternoon and evening. Don't announce an extention yet! If you do, I'll just continue to procrastinate  ;D  But you know, I don't think my vote is going to count anyway. It looks like we have a winner already....and I ain't happy about it!  >:(   :D

Sarge

Good to hear this, Sarge! Ok, no extension yet. ;) I'll wait and see how many more votes we get this evening. haha - there are still quite a few more votes to be recieved so it's still possible for a massive change. The top two are very close at the moment, so who knows what could happen?! Very excited to see your vote! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 21, 2012, 07:33:47 AM
Okay, I have listened. As time was and is a bit tight, don't expect detailed analysis. What I can say is - the Finale is the make-or-break movement for me. It's among the best things Mahler ever did. What I look for is inexorability. It is a long movement, so the conductor must know how to pace it. I have often noticed how things can start sagging during the recapitulation, the transition to which is, perhaps, my single favourite moment in the whole of the Mahlerian canon. If a performance manages that part of the movement well, I am sold. My ranking, therefore, is as follows:


A8 - C1 - B5 - A7 - A4


All the orchestras play magnificently, though recording quality varies. I love A8 because it is very exciting, live, and risks all, yet remains precise. It is a recording I'd take with me to a desert island. All the others have their own superb moments. But all-in-all - A8.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 21, 2012, 12:27:42 PM
No contest. C1 could do no wrong. Best sound. Paced the way I'd conduct it in all the movements (fast 1st, broad 4th), the rhythmic distortions idiomatic, great cowbell, and the most impressive hammerblows of the five

We all know who A7 is, and I can't say the knowledge didn't color my judgment. I rated the Scherzo highly in a previous round, and I do love that movement but I was never happy with the first movement which I think completely distorts Mahler's intentions (dude, Allegro energico!). Sure, there should be a hint of the future tragedy but when it starts with the very first bars...no, I can't accept that (in a comparison contest anyway...heard on its own, I like its individuality but prefer Chailly at this grim pace). I also can't stand the cowbells in the first movement; it sounds as if bovines are drowning in an Alpine lake.

A4 I quite like in most respects. I think this is Boulez (I haven't checked). But where are the hammerblows? Serious omission.

A8, my runner-up, not the best sound but a magnificent performance. But the audience noise bothered me enough to demote it.

1 - C1

2 - A8

3 - A4

4 - B5

5 - A7

Sarge


Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: nico1616 on June 21, 2012, 12:36:31 PM

A4 I quite like in most respects. I think this is Boulez (I haven't checked).

Sarge

That would make sense, I have the Boulez and never liked it :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 21, 2012, 12:41:06 PM
That would make sense, I have the Boulez and never liked it :)

I have it too and, strangely enough, I've never liked it either  ;D  Maybe this is the breakthrough, when I finally come to appreciate it. I have to say though that none of the finalists, save C1, would enter my favorites list. My favorites have long ago bitten the dust in this comparison.

Sarge 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: nico1616 on June 21, 2012, 12:45:30 PM
I have it too and, strangely enough, I've never liked it either  ;D  Maybe this is the breakthrough, when I finally come to appreciate it. I have to say though that none of the finalists, save C1, would enter my favorites list. My favorites have long ago bitten the dust in this comparison.

Sarge

I did not even know that Barbirolli recorded the 6th in the studio, so for me this thread is a revelation - if the humming conductor is Barbirolli...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on June 21, 2012, 12:50:57 PM
Well, I completed the listening, but it wasn't easy with a 12-day business trip earlier this month!  I didn't have time to write up something on each recording, but for this final round, my ranking is this:

1. B5
2. A8 (a close second!)
[larger gap]
3. C1
4. A7
5. A4

Looking forward to the final reveal!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 21, 2012, 01:00:51 PM
Thank you very much Johan, Sarge, Ilaria and James for your votes. Just recording them now. A few more votes to wait for, I shall message these users and see what their voting situation is. Hopefully should be able to reveal the results very soon! :)

Sarge, your comments were a joy to read! :D
Those who did not have the time to write full comments, don't worry - I understand, life is very busy at times! It is sometimes difficult to find the time to listen to 5 hours of Mahler anyway! :)
Thank you all, again! Glad you have enjoyed the comparison, hope you'll be able to take part in the next (M1) too! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 21, 2012, 01:28:40 PM
Now that I've listened blind, and made my choices, I just had to know--now!--who C1 is. Turns out to be a conductor I've heard live in Mahler (the Seventh at Severance Hall in Cleveland), and a performance that's been recommended to me many times by someone in the forum (I think it was ChamberNut). I should have listened  ;D  I do own it but have only ever given it cursory listens before.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on June 21, 2012, 02:24:45 PM
Thank you, Daniel :) Anyway, for the sake of completeness, I hope to post all my thoughts tomorrow.
The 1st symphony is going to be the next subject for the Mahler blind comparison? How wonderful, I absolutely love it.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 22, 2012, 12:30:09 AM

Sure, there should be a hint of the future tragedy but when it starts with the very first bars...
I also can't stand the cowbells in the first movement; it sounds as if bovines are drowning in an Alpine lake.


This is the tragedy that the conductor of A7 is highlighting ... !!!    I didn't realize the significance of the cowbells until now ....  :D
It also explains the groans from the conductor that are picked up by the mike   (I think he is trying to say "mooooah") ...
This revelation changes my entire view of the music ....     thanks for the insight Sarge ...

PS : Never again will I eat a hamburger whilst listening to this symphony .....
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 22, 2012, 01:44:36 AM
This is the tragedy that the conductor of A7 is highlighting ... !!!    I didn't realize the significance of the cowbells until now ....  :D
It also explains the groans from the conductor that are picked up by the mike   (I think he is trying to say "mooooah") ...

 ;D :D ;D

But seriously, the cowbells sound so odd in this recording. It sounds to me as if they were recorded under water; they have this strange hollow reverb.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 22, 2012, 02:13:52 AM
Sarge, what is your favorite for the finale (not the whole symphony)? .. excluding Szell of course   ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 22, 2012, 07:26:34 AM
Sarge, what is your favorite for the finale (not the whole symphony)? .. excluding Szell of course   ;)

Szell has the most terrifying ending, shocking after the relative emotional restraint of much of his performance. But excluding Szell...it would have to be either Solti or Lenny DG. (Am I the only one who hears the third hammerblow in these two? Most performances omit it.)

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 22, 2012, 07:49:18 AM
Lenny VPO has the 3rd hammer-blow for sure.     I don't think that Solti has (need to listen again), but his big crash at the final climax could drown out a nuclear attack.
     
I seem to remember a version by a Japanese conductor (not Ozawa) that had the best final blow of all .... there seemed to be all sorts of percussion involved and it almost sounded like someone dropped a tray full of crockery next to the mike.   It was mighty impressive.   Can anyone confirm this and tell me which version this is ?

Thanks ... A     
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 22, 2012, 10:13:54 PM
Sarge, you are correct .... both the Bernstein and Solti versions restore the 3rd hammer blow that was deleted by the composer.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 23, 2012, 02:04:52 AM
Sarge, you are correct .... both the Bernstein and Solti versions restore the 3rd hammer blow that was deleted by the composer.

Thanks for confirming what my ears were telling me (I don't always trust them  :D ): an extra thud in the mix that doesn't resonate like a drum.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 23, 2012, 03:55:02 AM
I also can't stand the cowbells in the first movement; it sounds as if bovines are drowning in an Alpine lake.
This is the tragedy that the conductor of A7 is highlighting ... !!!    I didn't realize the significance of the cowbells until now ....  :D
It also explains the groans from the conductor that are picked up by the mike   (I think he is trying to say "mooooah") ...
This revelation changes my entire view of the music ....     thanks for the insight Sarge ...

PS : Never again will I eat a hamburger whilst listening to this symphony .....
;D

I'll have to keep my ears peeled for the cowbells next time I listen to this recording!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 23, 2012, 04:20:14 AM
;D

I'll have to keep my ears peeled for the cowbells next time I listen to this recording!

Bring plenty of tissues to the listening room, David. Prepare for a flood of tears  ;)

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 24, 2012, 07:27:58 AM
Just waiting for a few more votes now, so not long until the big reveal! And then we can get started on Mahler 1 ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: TimH on June 26, 2012, 04:42:06 AM
MY OVERALL ORDER:

1st = A4 - monumental, all movements full of character, emotion and excitement, excellent orchestra and solos, spacious and detailed recording; finale has huge build up of tension and coruscating climaxes

2nd = A8 - highly involving; finale precise, detailed and controlled, muscular string playing, hammer blows like thunder claps, dynamic and thrilling; occasionally audience noise is obtrusive

3rd = A7 - poweful and urgent, majesterial; finale truly epic and stirring, sometimes noble sometimes sinister; unfortunately conductor's frequent mumbling and groaning occasionally detracts from performance (otherwise might have been my 2nd choice)

4th = C1 - majestic overall; but finale lacks momentum and not as involving as others

5th = B5 - well behind the others for me - does not have the same impact, but difficult to pinpoint why

It's been very enjoyable to take part in this blind comparision - thanks madaboutmahler for organising it! Looking forward to finding out the final results with the performers revealed.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 26, 2012, 07:07:16 AM
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!

Right - I think those are all the votes we will have in, so I shall hopefully be able to post the results this evening! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 26, 2012, 07:31:16 AM
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!

Right - I think those are all the votes we will have in, so I shall hopefully be able to post the results this evening! :)
So few?! Idathunk thisd get a bigger response.

P.S. Where's your vote, Daniel?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 26, 2012, 08:20:25 AM
So few?! Idathunk thisd get a bigger response.

P.S. Where's your vote, Daniel?

Well, there were 10 votes, which was not bad! There were more people voting in the first two parts, around 4 more or so I think. And sadly David (W) has disappeared again...

I thought I wouldn't place a vote as obviously I already know what the recordings are. But I do know which ones I would like to win! ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 26, 2012, 08:59:16 AM
I already tabulated the last round a couple of different ways and got the same result both times. As we've already discussed privately, there was one big surprise for me in the blind listening, though my response is unique among the 10 participants. I've been thinking about that one a bit and suspect that I tend to be a bit dismissive of individual symphony recordings acquired as part of a complete set, rather than as single issues.  And that makes sense, for I doubtless give the single issues a more thorough hearing when I buy them, thus am more likely to warm to their virtues.

Thanks again for your efforts in putting this together for us!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 26, 2012, 12:17:05 PM
Thank you for posting those thoughts, David.

It's an absolute pleasure - and thank you for taking part!

Ok, results hopefully within around half an hour! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 26, 2012, 12:23:00 PM
CAN'T WAIT!!!  :o
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: North Star on June 26, 2012, 12:47:16 PM
Thank you for posting those thoughts, David.

It's an absolute pleasure - and thank you for taking part!

Ok, results hopefully within around half an hour! :)

OK, Danny...  ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on June 26, 2012, 12:52:57 PM
So excited, I'm looking forward to seeing the results! ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 26, 2012, 01:10:56 PM
Apologies, ran out of time to post the results this evening. Shall try and post them before school tommorow! So, around 8.30 AM England time, hopefully! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 26, 2012, 01:12:16 PM
You are an extremely cruel... composer.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 26, 2012, 01:14:13 PM
Sorry, Johan! I would post them tonight if I could, but I have to get off to bed... but I hope to post them as early as possible tommorow morning! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 26, 2012, 01:14:44 PM
 :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 26, 2012, 01:22:04 PM
Sorry, Johan! I would post them tonight if I could, but I have to get off to bed... but I hope to post them as early as possible tommorow morning! :)

Yes, a growing boy needs his sleep. We old farts don't mind waiting. (grrrrrr)

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 26, 2012, 01:33:03 PM
Yes, a growing boy needs his sleep. We old farts don't mind waiting. (grrrrrr)
Pssst ... Sarge!  You're doddering again!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 26, 2012, 09:21:59 PM
Apologies, ran out of time to post the results this evening. Shall try and post them before school tommorow! So, around 8.30 AM England time, hopefully! :)
No worries. Don't worry about us - school is your priority.We won't melt if we have to wait another day (most of us anyway :)).
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 26, 2012, 09:34:13 PM
Whilst we are waiting for the final results to be announced, I can reveal that no cows died in A7  (see earlier correspondence with Sarge).  All were fitted with special life-jackets for the recording before being thrown into Lake UdderSee.    Nevertheless, the conductor was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals, but his lawyer successfully argued that it was Mahler's original intention and his client was merely following the score.     The conductor also denied making mumbling and groaning sounds in the A7 recording, claiming that these noises came from one of the cows that had made its way into the recording studio seeking vengeance (or milking .... the truth was never clearly established).     He never conducted Mahler again ....
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 26, 2012, 10:36:00 PM
Thank you for waiting, and posting some amusing comments! ;)

At school on the music dept computers now, so shall continue working on the results. Will either be able to post now or at breaktime. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 27, 2012, 12:08:02 AM
Thanks, Alkan, for those essential pieces of background information.


(My patience is still holding, Daniel.)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 04:11:13 AM


(My patience is still holding, Daniel.)

I am sorry for taking so long, I've been very busy today at school. Promise that the results will be posted today though! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 27, 2012, 04:57:20 AM
Alkan -- does this mean we'll soon be seeing a disclaimer on CDs to the effect that  "No animals were harmed during the making of this recording"?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 27, 2012, 05:12:39 AM
I am sorry for taking so long, I've been very busy today at school. Promise that the results will be posted today though! :)
A little self-discipline is good for the soul! And it saves me money - take your time! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 27, 2012, 06:24:45 AM
Alkan -- does this mean we'll soon be seeing a disclaimer on CDs to the effect that  "No animals were harmed during the making of this recording"?

Only on the A7 version of Mahler's 6th symphony, Saint-Saens' "le Carnaval des Animaux", .... and of course, "the flight of the bumble bee"   (no insecticides)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 07:23:37 AM
A little self-discipline is good for the soul! And it saves me money - take your time! :)

haha - thank you! :)

Only on the A7 version of Mahler's 6th symphony, Saint-Saens' "le Carnaval des Animaux", .... and of course, "the flight of the bumble bee"   (no insecticides)

haha :D

Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 07:57:32 AM
Just writing now, hopefully will post within the next 10 minutes. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 08:27:00 AM
3.............2..........1.......

:D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 08:28:33 AM
And here are the results!!!! :D

I know you wished to see the points as well, so I have displayed them. As there were 10 votes, they are out of 50. 50 being the highest!

5th Place: A4 Vienna Philharmonic/Pierre Boulez (DG/1995)
Starting off as an average contender, this recording did particularly well in the second round, when people particularly enjoyed how 'classical' the performance was. However, many people did not like Boulez's way with the finale at all, calling it 'overly bombastic'. Half the voters placed this last in the votings. This recording recieved 20 points.



4th Place: B5 Cologne Radio Orchestra/Gary Bertini (EMI/1984)
This recording started off being extremely popular, gaining 90% of it's possible votes in the first round, and keeping a very high mark in the second. Many praised the superb control of the excellent orchestral playing. However, it was not liked nearly as much in the final, being criticised as undistinctive, one even said they hated the recording! The performance still did have supporters though! This recording recieved 24 points.



3th Place: A8 Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano (EMI/2011)
The most recent Mahler 6 was loved very much in all parts of the comparison, coming second place (after the Bertini) in the first round and recieving many first place votes throughout. This recording consistently recieved praise for Pappano's superb control of his outstanding orchestra, and the energy and beauty of the performance. A slight surprise perhaps? Myself, I am glad it did this well! This recording recieved 33 points.



2nd Place: C1 London Philharmonic Orchestra/Klaus Tennstedt (EMI/1983)
Many loved the energy and urgency in this performance, and eventually, it was extremely close between this and the winner, in the final vote, there was only one point between them! This recording recieved 36 points.



1st Place: A7 New Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli (EMI/1967)
This classic recording was much loved through the entire comparison. Almost everyone adored the intensity, power, tragedy and passion in the performance. This recording recieved 37 points.




So, what do you all think of the results? Surprised?

Thank you all very much for taking part, it has been an absolute pleasure doing this for you all! Hope you have enjoyed it! :)

Hope you will be able to take part in the next Mahler comparison which will be starting just before August I would imagine. If you feel like some more Blind Comparison fun before, please feel free to sign up for my 'Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra' comparison which will be starting during this week.

:)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 27, 2012, 08:34:09 AM
3.............2..........1.......

:D

MOOOOOOoooooooo .....  !!!!!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 27, 2012, 08:34:23 AM
Many thanks, Daniel!  :)  I knew the Barbirolli and the Boulez. Pappano and Tennstedt are big surprises for me. It's clear I ought to own those...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lisztianwagner on June 27, 2012, 08:52:12 AM
Wow, what very interesting results! :o So my favourite of the final group is the Tennstedt! :o A great recording, it received positive comments from me during the whole comparison. Both the Bertini and the Pappano surprised me, I've never listened to those versions before,  but I enjoyed them. The Barbirolli has won....well, that's an excellent performance, no doubt. :)

Thank you so much for this Blind Comparison, Daniel, I'm looking forward to attending the next one! ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: trung224 on June 27, 2012, 08:56:20 AM
 Thanks, Daniel! I'm not surrised about this result. The Tennstedt's and the Barbirolli's is very tragic, powerful and deserved their place. But I strongly recommend the live performance by Tennstedt in LPO label.
 http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2009/aug09/Mahler6_%20Tennstedt_lpo0038.htm
  Recorded in the same time with the studio recording, the concept of interpretation is similar but the playing is more involved. I have owned it and this is truly the most powerful and tragic performance of Mahler 6 I've heard.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 27, 2012, 09:27:16 AM
Very interesting.   The top two were the most individualistic and atypical interpretations where Mahler's symphony was marked (distorted?) by the strong personality of the conductor.    In most other classical works this can be dangerous, but I think that it can work very well in Mahler's 6th.     

I have the Boulez version, and I listen to it when I don't feel up to a high emotional involvement.    It allows you to understand a bit better Mahler's very complex music without getting carried away and overwhelmed.

It's a pity that the usual suspects (Bernstein, Solti) didn't make it to the finale (which is the only part I participated in).           

The first version of this symphony that I heard was Haitink/Concertgebouw and I still like it very much.   Has anyone heard the later Haintink with the BSO?    If so, your comments would be very welcome.

Many thanks to madabout, and I hope you pass your GCSE's after all this ..... ;)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 27, 2012, 09:42:07 AM
What's the next Mahler symphony for a blind test ?
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 09:50:58 AM
My pleasure, it really has been a joy organizing this comparison! Listening to around 30 different performances of the Alma Theme was a good start... ;) What a wonderful mood that got me in! :)

Thank you for your comments on the results by the way! :)

What's the next Mahler symphony for a blind test ?

The next Mahler symphony for comparison will be the 1st symphony, the comparison starting in around a month, after the 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' comparison I am doing in between. You are more than welcome to join in with that one too if you want! :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 27, 2012, 09:53:16 AM
The next Mahler symphony for comparison will be the 1st symphony, the comparison starting in around a month, after the 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' comparison I am doing in between. You are more than welcome to join in with that one too if you want! :)

Any cowbells in either of these two ?    ;D
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 09:55:29 AM
Any cowbells in either of these two ?    ;D

I'm afraid not! ;) The percussion in both is very impressive though anyway! :D

Here's the link for the Strauss if you or anyone who has not signed up yet are interested!
http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,20657.0.html (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,20657.0.html)

This comparison will be starting within the next week. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: classicalgeek on June 27, 2012, 11:11:32 AM
Fascinating result!  The Barbirolli wasn't at the top of my list, but I thought it was solid if not spectacular.  Not surprised I liked the Bertini throughout (his cycle is my favorite top-to-bottom Mahler set) or Tennstedt.  Pappano intrigues me as well - I will see if that one's in my collection, if not, I might have to add it :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 27, 2012, 11:15:35 AM
Thanks, Daniel!

Here's a listing of the recordings included and how they fared in the test:

1.   Barbirolli/New Philharmonia Orchestra
2.   Tennstedt/London Philharmonic Orchestra
3.   Pappano/National Orchestra of Saint Cecilia
4.   Bertini/Köln Radio Orchestra
5.   Boulez/Vienna Philharmonic
6.   Sinopoli/Philharmonia Orchestra
7.   Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic
8.   Solti/CSO
9.   Rattle/BP
10.   Abbado/BP
11.   Maazel/WP
12.   Chailly/RCO
13.   Bernstein/NYPO
14.   Mitropoulos/WDRO
15.   Segerstam/DNRSO
16.   Inbal/Frankfurt RSO
17.   Neumann/Czech Philharmonic
18.   Zinman/Zurich Tonhalle
19.   Rattle/CBSO
20.   Bernstein/WP
21.   Szell/Cleveland
22.   Gergiev/LSO
23.   Kubelik/BRSO (DGG)
24.   Horenstein/Bournemouth

I participated in only the last round featuring the top five. The big surprise for me was how much I liked the Bertini excerpts, at least in comparison with the other samples. Also surprising was that I placed Boulez last among these five, and chiefly because of the bombastic drive that I thought excessive. This recording is one of my favorite 6ths and so after seeing from my notes how poorly it fared (with the caveat that the competition was generally quite good, having survived two previous cuts), I listened to the complete symphony recording. And I liked it very much -- which shows the difference between needle-dropping, checking A's bits against B's and C's bits, and listening to the work as a whole with all those bits contextualized in the complete conceptual framework offered by the conductor.

I've yet to give Bertini another complete hearing to see whether the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but my liking for its parts suggests that such a hearing is overdue!

That Barbirolli topped my list for these five is no surprise, for it's one of my very favorites and the other contenders for that rank were excluded, though Sinopoli's 6th just missed making the final five. Several other top faves -- Gielen, MTT, Fischer -- were excluded altogether, as were two recent acquisitions that I liked very much at first and which only time will tell if I continue liking so much: Eschenbach/PO and Haitink/CSO. I also think that if Lenny's WP 6th had survived the early rounds, it would have been a strong contender in the final for much the same reason that Barbirolli's "won."

Two final takeaways: I'll want to give Pappano's 6th a fair hearing (thanks, Mog!) and I need to hear Tennstedt's Mahler again. I did not recognize either of these and it's no wonder, since I had never heard the Pappano and I don't generally respond favorably to Tennstedt, feeling that he often over-dramatizes and misses the subtleties of Mahler's music. Sure, there are some wonderful moments, but I've never liked his overall approach nearly as well as a dozen or more others.

Again, thanks for putting this together, Daniel, and inviting us to play along!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on June 27, 2012, 11:51:26 AM

Thanks, Daniel!

Here's a listing of the recordings included and how they fared in the test:

My non-blind comments from 2009 -- several choices here were not included, since they were either not recorded yet, or not available outside a box set, or not re-issued at all. Or because I didn't care for them in the least, or didn't own them.

1.   Barbirolli/New Philharmonia Orchestra
Quote
Like a possessed Bulldog, drooling over the orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli drives the New Philharmonia to a performance somewhat the polar opposite of other Barbirolli Mahler-recordings. The sound quality is not the best (but has been improved significantly for all subsequent re-issues on CD, starting with the double forte edition) and you can hear Barbirolli grunt, huff, and puff—but that all sounds appropriate, as does the less-than-perfect playing of the orchestra. It is wild-eyed, relentless; its teeth are showing. The first movement drags cruelly but appropriately to these ears, because the attacks are sharp and on the toes, not the heal. The repeat is skipped.

This recording has thankfully been re-issued again—now with Barbirolli’s preferred, original movement order, with the Andante first. (On previous issues, the engineers had other ideas and placed the Scherzo first, in accordance with the critical Mahler Edition’s suggestions at the time. It works to riveting effect, which somewhat excuses their interference with the maestro’s wishes.)

5.   Boulez/Vienna Philharmonic
Quote
Boulez (DG) has a very strong Sixth to offer—and while it is not quite as no-holds-barred rough and raw as Bernstein, Mitropoulos, or Barbirolli (the Vienna Philharmonic plays far too beautifully for that), he might still be considered to fall down on the ‘brutal’ side. It’s a tremendous recording and would probably—despite the polarizing effect the name “Boulez” has on Mahlerites or music fans in general—be the least controversial first choice for the Sixth. (To eradicate the “cold” stereotype that so disturbs sensible discussion of Boulez’ conducting: clear and clean he is always and ‘analytical’ often; but a sense of detachment only appears in his Mahler Third and Seventh. Blind hearings would surely show him ranked as surprisingly emotive!)

7.   Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic
Quote
Karajan’s DG recording of the Sixth is his third-to-last Mahler recording and, along with the second Ninth, his best. Mahler was a composer to whom Karajan found only late in life… and ‘the later, the better’ fully applies to his Mahler recordings (the two to follow were the special accounts of the Ninth) and this one could be in a category of its own. The approach to ‘sound’ that he drilled into the Berlin Philharmonic, the insistence on absolute perfection (at least whenever in the recording studio), that polish, that well-oiled machine… it all works towards a truly spectacular Mahler experience. Surely on the clean side of the raw-genteel divide, it is probably the most propulsive of the “drool-free” versions. It is a little short on any particular Mahler-flavor but it more than makes up for that with its numerous other qualities.

9.   Rattle/BP
[What's this? A radio broadcast?]

10.   Abbado/BP
Quote
Claudio Abbado’s most recent recording with the Berlin Philharmonic has been hyped, hailed, and awarded. The Gramophone and The Financial Times both raved about it. It wasn’t much to my liking when I reviewed it and it isn’t now. It’s good and excellently played and it’s mild and gentle, genteel and polished—and unfortunately also quite listless, if not comatose.

13.   Bernstein/NYPO
[Insinuated as preferred over several other versions incl. the Vienna one, but not specifically recommended]

14.   Mitropoulos/WDRO
[See below]

19.   Rattle/CBSO
Quote
As it turns out, I enjoy Simon Rattle’s recording (EMI), nearly as broad but zanier, a good deal more than Tilson Thomas’ or Haitink’s most recent one. It is among those Mahler recordings of Rattle that are under-, rather than over-rated, and it could fit either in either category of the two approaches between which I distinguish: either on the lenient side of brutal or on the bleak side of moderateness. Sonics are not its strong suit, but for three movements it competes with the best.

21.   Szell/Cleveland
Quote
It was with great anticipation that I listened to the brisk live recording (73 minutes; an 18 minute Allegro) of George Szell’s with the Cleveland Orchestra (Sony). But the sound is muffled, the interpretation tame, the execution without heft, and everything feels a bit middle-of-the-road.

22.   Gergiev/LSO
Quote
You’d think that the one Symphony that should be most suited to Valery Gergiev would be the Sixth: With a stubble, crumpled suit, dark, bloodshot eyes, the smell of liquor from the long night before still lingering, ruthless and wild and with unwashed, unkempt hair. (That’s my ideal vision of the Sixth, not a description of Gergiev’s appearance.) All the greater my surprise to hear Gergiev’s Sixth—part of his Mahler Cycle with the LSO on their own label—to be a tame (if not quite emaciated) performance. Even if Gergiev had gone for Scherzo-Andante and three hammer blows, instead of the (now) standard Andante-Scherzo/Two, this would not qualify for inclusion among the raw, driven Sixths.

23.   Kubelik/BRSO (DGG)
[Liked the Audite version, without being too enthusiastic.]


- - - Too bad Fischer, Zander & Gielen were not part of this, indeed.

Mitrop:
Quote
Barbirolli and Bernstein’s view of this symphony were very likely influenced by the greatest Mahlerian since Mengelberg and Walter, and by far the most exciting next to Bernstein: Dimitri Mitropoulos. Mitropoulos gave the first American performances of the Sixth (Andante/Scherzo) in 1947. A recording from 1955 (also Andante/Scherzo) with the New York forces is floating around (notably in the New York Philharmonic $200-plus luxury box set) and is said to be played better—but the live-recording with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln from 1959 (at time when “live” meant live!) is riveting, raw, individualistic (still shy of eccentric); truly an edge-of-the-seat reading. (Issued on the Mitropoulos set as part of EMI’s prematurely aborted “Greatest Conductors of the 20th Century” edition, it is still available… while I’m not sure if I trust the sound on the Urania issue currently in print, given bad experience with that label.) That the orchestra struggles in several passages can be troubling—or alternatively seen as furthering that pushed-to-the-brink feeling. The order of the movements here is Scherzo/Andante and that’s how it has been published in all its outings on CD… Mitropoulos curiously having changed the movement-order four years prior to the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft’s critical edition suggesting the Scherzo be placed first. (Most likely Erwin Ratz, founder and editor of the IGMG, and the irrationally ardent supporter of the Scherzo-Andante order mentioned above, had convinced him to do so before a performance in Vienna in 1957.) The sound is admittedly rather limited for most of the first movement but it gets better from thereon… and the rest of the modest quality is adjusted for by the ears. Not a ‘first’ recommendation but a dedicated Mahler listener or any fan of the Sixth won’t pass it up. This recording, unlike some other old and low-fi recordings I have criticized, is one where you definitely can hear and enjoy the interpretive choices.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 12:11:17 PM
Thank you all for posting your feedback, very interesting! And to David for posting the results list, and to Jens for posting  the comments from his blog. :)

Really glad that you enjoyed it so much! Hopefully you will enjoy the future comparisons as much!

9.   Rattle/BP
[What's this? A radio broadcast?]

This is a recording that Julien (Discobole) recommended to me, on the Berliner Philharmoniker's own label. I believe it was Rattle's first ever concert with the orchestra. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: eyeresist on June 27, 2012, 05:31:19 PM
I didn't take part, but thanks for letting me play the observer! Very interesting results....


The top two were the most individualistic and atypical interpretations where Mahler's symphony was marked (distorted?) by the strong personality of the conductor.    In most other classical works this can be dangerous, but I think that it can work very well in Mahler's 6th.

I think the results are more a comment on the tastes of these particular voters than on the music as such ;)


...I don't generally respond favorably to Tennstedt, feeling that he often over-dramatizes and misses the subtleties of Mahler's music.

That's how I feel about Tennstedt's 6th, but for me that was the low point of his cycle (along with 8 and perhaps 5), and I love his cycle overall. He gets a true "Mahler sound" from the LPO.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: liuzerus87 on June 27, 2012, 06:41:11 PM
Re Mitropoulos: Archipel released a copy of the 1955 Mahler 6 with the NYPO, on Amazon:


It's also available for an MP3 download for just $6 on Amazon here



I'm not sure if Archipel is a pirate label or whatever is up with this recording compared to the big NYPO set, but it seems legitimate to me.

As for hearing both this recording and his later 1960 with the WDR Koln, I have to say that I prefer the 1955 hands down. In comparison, the earlier recording is better played and much better put together. His drive in the finale never lags, leading to a fairly fast timing (28:37), but he does it while maintaining a good sense of musicality and drama, so there's never a sense of rushing over notes.

In Tony Duggan's survey of Mahler 6's on Musicweb, he has this to say about the NYPO performance:
Quote
I’ll say straight away that, for me, this is the finest performance of the last movement I know. Mitropoulos keeps such a firm grip on the symphonic structure, such a single-minded concentration on pressing ahead, that the drama the movement delivers seems to hit us head on, rather like the blows of fate the hammer delivers. Note the passage 237-270 which, in more than any other version, recalls the corresponding passage in the first movement and so knits the symphony together across the movements. Then, soon after, the astonishing contribution of the trumpeters as the first hammer approaches with the latter a real blow of fate - heroic ambition emphatically stopped in its tracks. Then the "whipped" passage between the first two blows also has to be heard to be believed. So towering, so thrillingly conceived and delivered, with the orchestra playing like things possessed. Likewise in the final assault leading to the place where the third hammer blow used to be there is the same feeling as with Sanderling of the work’s "hero" going for one final throw before utter disaster. We never hear anywhere near enough of that which is felled, that which the hero loses and Mitropoulos seems aware of that. As I have said before, how are we to appreciate the devastating nature of what fate delivers unless we appreciate what it is that will be lost ? A man "in full leaf and flower", as Alma described Mahler at this time, must be depicted in this movement. Right up until the last note the orchestra never flags. In a studio recording this would be remarkable enough but in a "live" performance this has to be one of the great public recordings of anything, up there with Furtwängler’s Beethoven Ninth from 1942.

All in all, perhaps one of the finest recordings of the work in my opinion.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on June 28, 2012, 12:48:53 AM
That was immensely fun. I'm also surprised by the Tennstedt, my number one choice. I had always been underwhelmed by previous interpretations of his. Guess I listened to the wrong  pieces.
That being said, I'm probably still not going to run out and buy it. It didn't really come close to displacing the Bernstein VPO for me.
I probably will, however, track down the Solti based on what I heard and some of the comments here.
It makes me wonder how the other Mahler symphonies will do in our hands. I'm guessing Barbirolli's 2nd will do well. It's perfectly paced like his 6th was, though also, like the 6th, it's a little too well behaved. Lenny's DG version  has, for me, easily the best first movement I've ever heard. It should go far, even when it turns into molasses in the last movement. But will it top his earlier versions? And will Daniel use all three extant (that I know of) Bernstein performances anyway?
Will Horenstein's celebrated Third make it through our clutches? or Solti's Fifth? Will Karajan's live recording of the 9th, possibly my favorite recording of anything I own, survive to his incandescent last movement.
There are only two Mahler symphonies that don't make me do cartwheels, the 8th and the 7th. I have the highly recommended balls-of-fire Solti 8th. Will I feel the need to get another? The 7th, I must admit, I've never even listened to all the way through. It does nothing for me. This  kind of side-by-side comparison will make me pay attention and that can only be good.



     
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on June 28, 2012, 01:52:28 AM
Hello Zauberflote,

Difficult for me to imagine anyone displacing Klemperer in the 2nd, although I also have the Solti and I like it a lot.    I must listen to Lenny ....

Concerning the 7th, I really like Bernstein/VPO here, even more than his 6th.    It's a strange beast, but maybe the easiest way in is to listen to single movements every now and then.   I always find the finale a blast .... completely over the top and often grotesque, ..... but captivating.    It sounds to me like the overture to Meistersinger on drugs.    Listen carefully .... the rhythm of the main motif is the same in both works, and the melodies are similar too.  The big tune in the finale of the 7th sounds like a distorted version of M-S.    I sometimes wonder if this was deliberate on Mahler's part ....

I am with you on the 8th ...
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 28, 2012, 03:47:06 AM
Boulez (DG) has a very strong Sixth to offer...Blind hearings would surely show him ranked as surprisingly emotive!)

Jens has the gift. He's prescient! I'd always dismissed Boulez's Sixth as cold, unfeeling, but listening blind I came to appreciate the emotional depths are there. Fascinating.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 28, 2012, 03:59:50 AM
So, what do you all think of the results? Surprised?

Except for Pappano I wasn't surprised by who the conductors were. I knew I'd heard Barbirolli, Tennstedt and Boulez, and suspected B5 was Bertini. Surprised by the results? Well, I knew Barbirolli was going to win but was pleasantly surprised to see Tennstedt make a last minute surge. He came so close! I am surprised all my favorite Sixths bit the dust. None of the five finalists impressed me enough to be included in my personal Top Five. Still, I will no longer denigrate Boulez, who's performance I really did enjoy for the first time (thanks, Daniel, for being instrumental in opening my ears); and I'm going to investigate Tennstedt with closer scrutiny than I have in the past (I saw him conduct the Seventh in Cleveland....I'm shocked that experience didn't make me a Tennstedt fan).

Sarge 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 28, 2012, 04:14:40 AM
I love this sort of thing, you know.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 28, 2012, 04:35:24 AM
I love this sort of thing, you know.

You should have joined us, Karl. As a non-Mahler-fan, free of performance expectations, I imagine your fresh ears would have given us some interesting comments.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: zauberflöte on June 28, 2012, 04:56:16 AM
Difficult for me to imagine anyone displacing Klemperer in the 2nd
Forgot about the Klemperer. Yes, that should do very well but it will have to get past the first round. Klemperer's first movement is nothing special, but that's the only movement that isn't.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 28, 2012, 05:03:23 AM
Forgot about the Klemperer. Yes, that should do very well but it will have to get past the first round.

Which makes me think: if Daniel had started with the last movement of the Sixth and preceded backwards, I wonder if the results would have been considerably different. I suspect so.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 28, 2012, 06:37:07 AM
Blind hearings would surely show [Boulez] ranked as surprisingly emotive!
Jens has the gift. He's prescient! I'd always dismissed Boulez's Sixth as cold, unfeeling, but listening blind I came to appreciate the emotional depths are there. Fascinating.
I don't know if Jens is prescient, but he has ears and good judgment and uses both -- as do you, my friend. Even though our tastes diverge more than his and mine, I respect your experience and thoughtfulness as much as his. And because of your patient advocacy, you have broadened my listening experience and helped me to appreciate things I once rejected as contrary to my preferences -- the late Lenny's Sibelius, for instance.

Listening blind to these excerpts of the 6th and making no effort to figure out who was who (though I could hardly avoid suspecting Barbirolli!), I ranked Boulez lowest of the five because I thought he pumped up the blaring emotionalism unnecessarily.  When I listened to the full work later, I didn't feel the same, however, as the tone was set in his rock-solid and perfectly judged opening march, establishing a visceral intensity that informed the later BIGNESS as intrinsic and not a grafted-on interpretive excess.

On the other hand, I listened to Tennstedt yesterday after learning his identity and thought his whole much less than the sum of the parts -- too big from the get go, the whole thing oddly disjointed -- according to MY tastes. Over the years I've learned that you usually prefer more overtly "emotional" and "big" interpretations than I, but otherwise our judgment is similar, so I've learned to trust and value your opinions -- unlike some critics who are all over the map and inconsistent from one day to the next, like the Hurwitzer or Amazon's "Santa Fe Listener," who often dismiss really great recordings out of sheer prejudice and perversity, it seems, but who nonetheless sometimes get it mystifyingly right!

(I also listened to the complete Pappano 6th and found it pretty but underwhelming. As Gertrude Stein famously said of her hometown, Oakland, "There is no there there.")

BTW, we're up to it again on the Nielsen thread!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 28, 2012, 06:42:59 AM
Which makes me think: if Daniel had started with the last movement of the Sixth and preceded backwards, I wonder if the results would have been considerably different. I suspect so.
No doubt. Or selected other excerpts. Or grouped the recordings differently. Or had a larger sample than 10-14 self-selected participants.

For me the point was not in trying to find a "winner," but in having the opportunity to listen blind, letting me check my own prejudices at the door. I've yet to give Bertini's complete 6th a go, but will soon, as my strong liking for it among the final group was quite an eye-opener for me.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mjwal on June 28, 2012, 09:58:06 AM
I missed the beginning of this and then was down with various bugs, so couldn't take part. It's fascinating to read all these reactions as an outsider. I'm very pleased with the general approval of Barbirolli, Boulez and Mitropoulos here. A pity the recently issued Dorati wasn't considered. This hit me like an LSD trip.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: eyeresist on June 28, 2012, 04:48:24 PM
I'm also surprised by the Tennstedt, my number one choice. I had always been underwhelmed by previous interpretations of his. Guess I listened to the wrong  pieces. ...
There are only two Mahler symphonies that don't make me do cartwheels, the 8th and the 7th. I have the highly recommended balls-of-fire Solti 8th. Will I feel the need to get another? The 7th, I must admit, I've never even listened to all the way through. It does nothing for me.

Speaking of wrong pieces...  I recommend hearing Tennstedt's studio 7th, for me the high point of his cycle. Everyone else sounds too hardbitten and superficial for me now.
For 8 there are certainly better options - most of which I haven't actually heard! But I believe Sinopoli and Nagano have both made great recordings. My choice is Bertini, for depth and coherence as well as magnificence.



Wait, what, Dorati recorded the 6th??
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 28, 2012, 05:19:27 PM
Everyone else sounds too hardbitten and superficial for me now.
Who is "everyone else?"
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: eyeresist on June 28, 2012, 06:15:23 PM
Who is "everyone else?"

Let's see: Bernstein (Sony), Bertini, Rattle, Masur. Offhand, I think those are the only ones in my collection, though I've listened to samples of others. I haven't heard Solti but would be very surprised if he didn't match this description, from what I know of his work elsewhere.

There was also a BBC Music coverdisc performance conducted by Noseda which was pretty good (excellent live sound), but in the end didn't quite scale the heights.

In his survey of recordings of the symphony, Tony Duggan suggests a flavour of (among other things) Wagner's Meistersinger overture in the finale, and interestingly says: "In early performances Mahler actually preceded the symphony with the Overture, perhaps as a kind of balance with the last movement. Try playing Wagner's overture and then Mahler's symphony and see how the Wagner sets up what you are going to be aiming at by the time Mahler's work ends. A fact Mahler surely meant us to understand."
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 29, 2012, 02:14:53 AM
I haven't heard Solti but would be very surprised if he didn't match this description, from what I know of his work elsewhere.

Yeah, you need to strap yourself in before hitting the play button :D  It's a thrilling ride but where subtlety is called for, it seems to elude him. Still, one of my favorite Sevenths.

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 29, 2012, 02:24:57 AM
A very interesting result. What I learned or have been thinking about:
1. The 6th is a more interesting piece than I thought. I will enjoy it more in future. Well worth the experience just for this!
2. I am...different. In my opinion, bombastic and bad should almost never be used in the same sentence and certainly never with Mahler. I don't understand these comments from some who commented about it (meaning Mahler+bombastic=good Mahler). Perhaps we don't quite mean the same thing?
3. When we listen to multiple versions, I wonder if we are missing something. The reason I mention it is that a good middle of the road performance may seem 'boring' compared to more extreme versions. It is something I will be thinking about in future comparisons. In other words, is just being different an advantage in this type of exercise?
4. Conductors may be more consistent in their approach to classical music than I originally thought. Having said that, there are exceptions. I have too small a sample size to draw a fair conclusion, but it's another theme I will be thinking about.
5. It is hard to include older recordings and give them a fair shake. I almost never buy older recordings (pre-stereo) for new music, because I know there are usually similarly good recordings in good sound. But it is hard to pick such recordings in an exercise like this, because the sound changes the impact of the music. I wonder if a separate grouping for the older recordings would be beneficial? 
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on June 29, 2012, 02:44:05 AM

In his survey of recordings of the symphony, Tony Duggan suggests a flavour of (among other things) Wagner's Meistersinger overture in the finale, and interestingly says: "In early performances Mahler actually preceded the symphony with the Overture, perhaps as a kind of balance with the last movement. Try playing Wagner's overture and then Mahler's symphony and see how the Wagner sets up what you are going to be aiming at by the time Mahler's work ends. A fact Mahler surely meant us to understand."

"suggests a flavor"? ??? It's pure C-major Meistersinger-finale (not overture) in the finale of the 7th. And first act finale Tristan. So much so (the Meistersinger-bit, which Mahler was of course one of the most admired conductors of, in his time) that many commentators think it's a straight send-up of Wagner... or in any case not possibly to be taken seriously.

Two of the conductors who bring this out most obviously are Klemperer (although I can't stand that ludicrously long finale) and Boulez.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 29, 2012, 02:55:18 AM
Over the years I've learned that you usually prefer more overtly "emotional" and "big" interpretations than I....

In a comparison like this, or for a desert island choice? yeah, I wouldn't disagree that my preferences would usually fit your description. However, the reason my collection is so large, the reason I have multiple versions of my favorite (and even not so favorite) music is because I want variety and enjoy hearing how different the same notes can sound when played by different teams and coachs. Bringing the discussion back to the topic here, my five favorite Sixths are very different beasts: Solti (pedal to the metal), Bernstein/DG (angst-ridden/over-the-top), Szell (Classical restraint), Karajan (deep beauty and emotion), Chailly (grim stoicism).

Sarge
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 29, 2012, 03:05:07 AM
Now, where did I put that Levine/BSO Mahler Sixth? . . .
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on June 29, 2012, 05:19:45 AM
Now, where did I put that Levine/BSO Mahler Sixth? . . .
In the rubbish bin?

Just joshing, of course. It's not among the couple of dozen 6ths I have, nor do I recall having heard it. For all I know it's as good as many other unsung recordings (of course, there shouldn't be any singing in the 6th!).

1. The 6th is a more interesting piece than I thought. I will enjoy it more in future. Well worth the experience just for this!
2. I am...different. In my opinion, bombastic and bad should almost never be used in the same sentence and certainly never with Mahler. I don't understand these comments from some who commented about it (meaning Mahler+bombastic=good Mahler). Perhaps we don't quite mean the same thing?
3. When we listen to multiple versions, I wonder if we are missing something. The reason I mention it is that a good middle of the road performance may seem 'boring' compared to more extreme versions. It is something I will be thinking about in future comparisons. In other words, is just being different an advantage in this type of exercise?
4. Conductors may be more consistent in their approach to classical music than I originally thought. Having said that, there are exceptions. I have too small a sample size to draw a fair conclusion, but it's another theme I will be thinking about.
5. It is hard to include older recordings and give them a fair shake. I almost never buy older recordings (pre-stereo) for new music, because I know there are usually similarly good recordings in good sound. But it is hard to pick such recordings in an exercise like this, because the sound changes the impact of the music. I wonder if a separate grouping for the older recordings would be beneficial? 
Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.
1. Yay!
2. Thanks, Neal! You gave me reason to look it up and I just discovered that I've been using the word wrongly for years, thinking it meant "excessively emphatic or theatrical," not "pompous or pretentious." So where I have used the word "bombastic," substitute "over-dramatized and emphatic."
3. Seems likely.
4. I think most conductors are pretty consistent, although the best take the composer's predilections and the period's conventions into account when preparing for a performance. The best conductors change their approach over time as they grow and learn more -- not just about the composers and the works, but from their own life experience. Look at Lenny's changing approach to Mahler over time, for instance.
5. I agree -- unless the pool of reviewers is biased toward "golden age" recordings, as some folks are. I own very few pre-'50s recordings, partly because of recording quality, but also because I very seldom hear one of those fabled recordings from the '30s or '40s that holds up against the better performances of the past 60 years. Others' mileage varies, of course. ;^)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on June 29, 2012, 05:31:49 AM
Jens has the gift. He's prescient! I'd always dismissed Boulez's Sixth as cold, unfeeling, but listening blind I came to appreciate the emotional depths are there. Fascinating.
I don't know if Jens is prescient, but he has ears and good judgment and uses both ...

Awww. Where is the blush-smiley when you need it.

I can't deny that there's a sense of gratification when blind-ish results among a wide variety of listeners comes up with results, and sometimes surprising results, that resemble in some ways what I hear -- and/or how I describe what I hear. Not because it's an "mhaw-mhwa, told-you-so" thing, but because there is an element in me that aspires hopes to achieve more than than just re-phrasing my own subjective opinion and emotional response to music... (despite knowing full well that so much of it is precisely that: a subjective response formed out of a listening-life-time of expectations, exposures, associations, but also day-to-day feelings and moods) ... something that scratches at the door of objectivity that is, if not true, so at least clear and 'true' enough that a whole host of very different 'ears' can see where I am coming from.

That's probably why we also listen to Sarge and a select few others on fora like these: It's not whether we end up having the same taste, but we can at least see why and what they like about a performance, and why it might be likable.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on June 29, 2012, 09:28:42 AM
I've not participated (I just can't handle that much Mahler right now, and then I'd want to do whole symphonies, not bits from movements to do them justice), but it's inspired me to salvage the 2009 Mahler Survey (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/search/label/G.Mahler%20Survey) from WETA to ionarts.

Working my way backwards through the 25 'episodes', I've now arrived at Symphony 8, PART 1 (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2012/06/gustav-mahler-symphony-no8-part-1.html) and PART 2 (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2012/06/gustav-mahler-symphony-no8-part-2.html). (And will have to do some formatting of the previously salvaged ones, to get a coherent look, update information, and fix graphics where links are broken.)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lilas Pastia on June 29, 2012, 05:15:42 PM
Too bad I came to this thread only today, the musical examples are gone >:(. I found the final results very interesting. Barbirolli's famed EMI recording has been with me for almost 40 years and I would certainly have recognized it from the get go. But I certainly would have been fooled with most of the others !

I suggest everyone who liked the Barbirolli to give a try to the LSO Farberman recording. Superbly played and gorgeously recorded, his rythms are even slower than Barbirolli's, and the sound picture is more cushioned too, giving the work a very gloomy cast indeed. Where Barbirolli sounds passionate and elevated, Farberman sounds dejected and downcast. Not for the faint of heart, although I've read some quite unkind comments. This is a work that provokes very strong feelings !
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on July 02, 2012, 09:48:13 AM
Happily, the 6th is such a great work and I enjoy it so much that I've been able to listen to it once a day or so recently without burnout. In the past few days I've listened to one recording that did not fare well among the listeners sampled (Rattle/CBSO) as well as two more of Tony Duggan's faves* that weren't included: Herbig and the OOP Thomas Sanderling. (Other Duggan faves left out included Gielen, Levi, Jansons, MTT, & Zander.)

Herbig is quite good and different from the norm. It's fast but focused, not frantic. There's no wallowing in sentimentality. His approach is similar to what people who haven't listened to Boulez might expect from the stereotype -- but without the iciness. I like the first three movements but the fourth falls a bit short in power/intensity for my tastes -- here the orchestra sounds a bit thin and underweighted (but the hammer thwacks are great!).

Sanderling offers a solid middle-of-the-road first movement, neither fast nor slow, lacking a bit in propulsive inevitability as well as the wistful beauty in the Alma theme, but compensating with a well-judged pastoral interlude. The scherzo is a bit too martial and driven -- crisp? -- to be properly unsettled and vaguely spooky, but the andante is lovely and gentle, more on the hopeful side rather than wistful, and played straight, respectful of composer and audience instead of mucking it up with schmaltz. Unlike Herbig's last movement, Sanderling is appropriately big and weighty, with requisite gravitas and building intensity. Overall a very solid performance with a very neutral, almost characterless approach that would make it a solid choice at the original budget price, but hardly worth the inflated prices sought on the second-hand market.

Rattle -- more expansive tempi and overt emotionality than either, not as satisfying as MTT's lingering over beauties, but not wallowing in sentimentality like some others, either. Perfectly judged thrust of 1st mvmt march --portentous, implacable ... big, brassy, and bold, but honest, unfolding from within, not forced. Alma's lovely, fairy-tale-like, dreamy ... but the pastoral interlude is soporific -- it's amazing how Rattie can get so much so right in this movement yet also get so much so wrong! Placing the andante second is the better choice, I think, but Rattie's a bit too slow and unfocused here, too. It gets wonderfully big and beautiful but pretty over-the-top -- if you like that sort of thing -- and if you can stay awake long enough to enjoy it. The scherzo's a bit heavy-handed, too, but does have a nice ominous underpinning, unfortunately it's more clodhopperish than spooky. The last movement returns to the strength and gravity so successful in the first, with big sound and well-judged tempos and forward thrust, yet verging on ponderous at times and suffering the same weakness as the first, too. I listened to this recording twice in the past few days, and on second hearing liked it a lot less than the first time through.


*FYI, Duggan's M6 survey is here: http://www.musicweb-international.com/Mahler/Mahler6.htm
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: alkan on July 02, 2012, 01:26:13 PM
Haitink !!!       

Any comments on any of his versions ????

Why is he totally ignored for the 6th ??      I thought he had a great Mahler reputation .....

Thx .... A
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: jlaurson on July 02, 2012, 02:31:46 PM
Haitink !!!       

Any comments on any of his versions ????

Why is he totally ignored for the 6th ??      I thought he had a great Mahler reputation .....

Thx .... A

He has a great Mahler reputation, but not one that necessarily lends itself to the brutality and roughness of the 6th. At least the way I see him.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on July 02, 2012, 02:55:10 PM
Haitink !!!       

Any comments on any of his versions ????

Why is he totally ignored for the 6th ??      I thought he had a great Mahler reputation .....

Thx .... A
I've heard Haitink's latest (CSO) 6th once, and liked it enough to buy the disc. I expect to listen to it carefully in the near future, along with his CSO 2nd and 3rd, which also impressed me favorably enough to buy them. I'll let you know what I think of the 6th after I've had a chance to digest it.

I suspect that in Mahler -- as with every other composer he conducts -- Haitink's self-effacing service to the music means that he attracts less attention than conductors who put an identifiable personal stamp on everything. Haitink's personal stamp is ... what? A high level of competence, sensitivity, good judgment, thoughtfulness?  FWIW, Jens and I agree that his latest 4th with the RCO is among the finest 4ths on record.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 02, 2012, 05:20:05 PM
Haitink's Concertgebouw 6th is of the 'classical, lean, cool, undemonstrative yet dynamic' school - like Kubelik or Szell. In the right frame of mind I find all three really excellent. Haitink more decisive, Kubelik emotional and Szell 'internally involved' - whatever that means. Even though I can't express it coherently in words it seems to me that Szell encapsulates all the work's many facets most intelligently. Unlike Barbirolli (or Giulini, had he ever taken to the sixth), Szell probably gets around all the musical and emotional aspects of the work where others fall prey to making love with one or two of its constituents. Szell makes love with nobody, but puts on the best show for the whole harem.

Back to Haitink ( the Amsterdam version) : the closest to Szell - and contemporaneous too. Better engineered, better played, but slightly more objective. Don't forget that Szell's was live - this IMO counts for something.

Anybody heard Bongartz with the Leipzig Radio Symphony? Gives Szell a run for his money. Herr Bongartz has very special ideas about tempos. And he unleashes his forces in a way that would make Haitink wince.

With the 6th, Mahler has 'de tout pour tous !
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: liuzerus87 on July 02, 2012, 05:58:40 PM
For what it's worth, Haitink and the CSO also performed Mahler 6 at the Proms in 2008; the full performance is on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/v/Zvfh_mjPLlQ
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 02, 2012, 10:20:02 PM
For what it's worth, Haitink and the CSO also performed Mahler 6 at the Proms in 2008; the full performance is on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/v/Zvfh_mjPLlQ
Some really interesting moments. Too bad the sound isn't better, but something is better than nothing. I enjoy watching a Mahler symphony and here one really feels the architecture of the piece with Haitink. I really noticed that while listening.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on July 03, 2012, 08:35:58 AM
Okay -- here we go re. Haitink's CSO Mahler 6:



First off -- Haitink might just be the greatest conductor of our time. He wouldn't be first who comes to mind as a candidate for that post, but every so often I hear a recording by him that is so damned right in every respect that I can't help but reflect on just how under-appreciated he is as a master musician and craftsman who's been giving us great, unheralded insights into the music he loves for more than 40 years. This is one of those recordings.

Earlier I asked what Haitink's particular genius as a conductor might be. It is that he never calls attention to himself -- or to the means by which the music is made -- but gives himself and his orchestra completely to serving the music itself. Thus he's easily overlooked, for there's nothing he does that stands out as unmistakeably "Haitink." In the case of this Chicago 6th, for instance, I started listening for the sake of hearing what Haitink brings to the music in comparison with other conductors . . . but soon found myself wholly absorbed and instead of listening to the performance, found myself listening to the music and responding differently than I ever have before.

That, to me, is the sign of a great conductor.

Here's a condensation of my "back of the envelope" notes (though in this case I used the front of the envelope, too!). BTW, I was caught up so quickly in the first movement that I forgot to make listening notes until it finished!

The first movement does nothing to call attention to itself. We all expect great brass from the Chicago, but I didn't expect such great winds -- especially the flutes. Lovely tone and musicality to every phrase. Tempos and the implacable drive of the march is ideal, for me -- deficient only in that I'd like to hear just a bit more "edge" to the march -- has to do with the leading edge of the attack, I think, this a bit softer than my sense of the ideal. And the cowbells (Sarge's favorite part!) are a just a bit clunky sounding for my tastes -- but that's a very trivial quibble.

The scherzo is a bit edgier -- just right, with an undercurrent of vague menace. The trios are very sweet and gentle. Knowing the "story," they summon the feelings of a loving father's gentle responses to his children at play rather than a "graphic" depiction of the children running around -- more akin to Sibelius than to Strauss. The "hero" returns to the fray, doing battle in the quest for worldly success, both for the sake of and thanks to these respites with family and the private life and pleasures they offer.

The andante flows with effortless grace and gently beauty. Is this Mahler's aspiration? To live fully in this spiritual serenity, this realm of deep repose before nature's beauty and harmony and the glimpses it offers of eternity and the great mystery? Like the first two movements, this is nearly perfect -- if only the cowbells weren't quite so loud (to me they should sound faint and muffled, as if carried on the wind from very far away).

The last movement-- great sense of wandering in a spiritual sea, adrift without moorings, seeking a safe harbor. The hero sallies forth, confidence growing as he finds his direction, but there's a disquieting undercurrent of questioning and doubt. All that "heroic" ego-driven stuff of worldly action and success is nothing compared to the gentle delights of loving relationships, the closeness of family, the serenity of nature, the sublimity of the unknown. The hero cannot reconcile them. He keeps returning to the fray, thinking he's on his way now to mastering his fate, marching triumphantly, only to stumble on the realization that fate may have other ideas and that the worldly struggle means nothing when confronted with surrender to the great mystery.

With Haitink, each movement and the symphony as a whole tells a story that builds to a conclusion -- not just a bunch of disjointed episodes. Everything relates to the overall structure. The Chicago brass really shows its greatness in the fourth movement through restraint -- no need to belt it out like Ethel Merman singing show tunes! The sound is very good, the perspective from about 2/3 back, with plenty of detail and rich tone -- but there's a great dynamic range and the volume needs to be cranked up (and a good hi fi system is probably necessary) for it to show itself (rather like SFS's recent recordings, too!).

In short, this is a splendid performance (or patch together of several live performances) that easily stands among the most satisfying I know. Haitink's tempos are slow -- at least judging from the timings -- but it never feels slow the way that, say, Rattie's do. The music unfolds gracefully, seeming to flow out of itself in the same way that an ocean wave flows out of the wind and currents and swells and the contours of the ocean floor.

There's little doubt it will remain one of my favorites -- and I can't wait to listen equally attentively to Haitink's other CSO Mahler discs!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 03, 2012, 09:15:41 AM
Glad to hear you enjoyed that one so much, David. One I must make sure to listen to at some point!
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: pbarach on July 11, 2012, 01:00:02 PM
Haitink's Concertgebouw 6th is of the 'classical, lean, cool, undemonstrative yet dynamic' school - like Kubelik or Szell.

There are actually two Haitink Mahler 6's. The Phillips issue was a 1969 studio recording, but there is a live performance from 1968 that has circulated from time to time--You can see it here, where the label is listed as "Q Disc"
http://gustavmahler.net.free.fr/symph6.html

It's much more intense than the studio recording made the following year.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 11, 2012, 04:07:19 PM
There are actually two Haitink Mahler 6's. The Phillips issue was a 1969 studio recording, but there is a live performance from 1968 that has circulated from time to time--You can see it here, where the label is listed as "Q Disc"
http://gustavmahler.net.free.fr/symph6.html

It's much more intense than the studio recording made the following year.

Thanks for that! I've never seen it anywhere, but will try to locate it.
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 18, 2012, 10:16:03 AM
Spreading the word:

Just to let you all know that we'll be starting the Blind Comparison for Mahler 1 next week, if you would like to take part, please make a post on the thread: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,20853.msg652953/topicseen.html#msg652953

Title: Honeck discusses the famous 'Hammerschlag' in the 4th mvmt. of Mahler's 6th
Post by: johndoe21ro on August 24, 2012, 06:40:30 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=600ZUWMNSh8
Title: Re: Honeck discusses the famous 'Hammerschlag' in the 4th mvmt. of Mahler's 6th
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 24, 2012, 06:48:17 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=600ZUWMNSh8

Thanks for posting that. I've been collecting Honeck's ongoing cycle and look forward to hearing his Sixth--especially now that I know it will include the third hammerblow  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Honeck discusses the famous 'Hammerschlag' in the 4th mvmt. of Mahler's 6th
Post by: johndoe21ro on August 24, 2012, 06:50:50 AM
Thanks for posting that. I've been collecting Honeck's ongoing cycle and look forward to hearing his Sixth--especially now that I know it will include the third hammerblow  8)

Sarge

You're welcome. I start to find Honeck more and more interesting... I too am gathering his Mahler cycle. So far I'm only half way there but very pleased with what I've got. :)
Title: Re: Mahler 6 Blind Comparison: Impressions and Votes
Post by: DavidRoss on August 24, 2012, 07:00:22 AM
You're welcome. I start to find Honeck more and more interesting... I too am gathering his Mahler cycle. So far I'm only half way there but very pleased with what I've got. :)
Yes, both Honeck and Stenz are working on very fine cycles. There seems to be no end of good ones these days. How many more must my groaning CD shelves make room for? :)