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The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: madaboutmahler on June 24, 2012, 10:34:00 AM

Title: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 24, 2012, 10:34:00 AM
As my Mahler 6 comparison is almost finished, time to start the next one! I thought that instead of doing each Mahler symphony one of each for Blind Comparison, it may be better to have different works inbetween.
So, my next blind comparison will be for Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra. The comparison will run in a similar way to the M6, in three parts - with excerpts explored in the first two parts, and then the whole piece in the final.

If you would like to take part, please just post a comment here to let me know!

I'll be starting the comparision a few days after the M6 one has finished, so probably in around a week.

:)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on June 24, 2012, 10:40:58 AM
As my Mahler 6 comparison is almost finished, time to start the next one! I thought that instead of doing each Mahler symphony one of each for Blind Comparison, it may be better to have different works inbetween.
So, my next blind comparison will be for Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra. The comparison will run in a similar way to the M6, in three parts - with excerpts explored in the first two parts, and then the whole piece in the final.

If you would like to take part, please just post a comment here to let me know!

I'll be starting the comparision a few days after the M6 one has finished, so probably in around a week.

:)

That's an excellent idea, I love Strauss' tone poems; Also sprach Zarathustra is outstanding, you can certainly count me in. :)

Hope Karajan's recording will win this time ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 24, 2012, 11:00:22 AM
Bring it on. I guess I am a junkie! :)

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on June 24, 2012, 11:33:55 AM
This one I could not possibly miss!

Sign me up Daniel!

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 24, 2012, 11:44:32 AM
Excellent to have you three on board!! :)

Deciding the recordings at the moment. A good amount of choice!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on June 24, 2012, 06:18:31 PM
Me too!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 24, 2012, 11:34:39 PM
I'm game! Great piece.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 01:27:08 AM
Excellent! Six participants so far. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on June 25, 2012, 03:10:19 AM
Excellent! Six participants so far. :)

Never before participated in these games because I'm not so good at recognizing orchestras and conductors but what the heck... count me in for this one and be merciful!  :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on June 25, 2012, 03:39:41 AM
Never before participated in these games because I'm not so good at recognizing orchestras and conductors but what the heck... count me in for this one and be merciful!  :)
Well that is ok, because that is not the goal. You just listen to the excerpts and give your views (did you like, not like, what did you like/dislike, etc.). Usually there is some sort of ordering from favorite to least favorite (or vice versa) with the winning excerpts going to the next round. So basically, you're just giving your opinion (with some interesting commentary) and seeing how others thought of the same. This has been fascinating at times, expecially when there is a surpise concensus or divided opinion.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on June 25, 2012, 03:45:25 AM
Then the better for me.  :D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 04:14:43 AM
Wonderful to have you taking part, Florestan! :)

Great explanation, Neal. :)

Very excited about this!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: DavidRoss on June 25, 2012, 04:30:01 AM
Well that is ok, because that is not the goal. You just listen to the excerpts and give your views (did you like, not like, what did you like/dislike, etc.). Usually there is some sort of ordering from favorite to least favorite (or vice versa) with the winning excerpts going to the next round. So basically, you're just giving your opinion (with some interesting commentary) and seeing how others thought of the same. This has been fascinating at times, expecially when there is a surpise concensus or divided opinion.
Even though I was able to participate in only the final round of the M6 trials (and only briefly at that thanks to a holiday with nothing much planned!), I welcomed the opportunity for blind listening to significant excerpts of a beloved work. The opportunity to hear them without prejudice re. the performers was a gift. Thanks, Daniel, for your time and effort spent preparing the clips and organizing the comparison! (And thanks to discobole for his efforts in the similar La Mer comparison!)

I would be nice to see vote totals at the end. That might reveal even more consensus and help clarify strongly divided opinion. After seeing the results of Disco's survey, I expect that both will prove the usual in such comparisons, especially given the small sample heavily biased toward those with firmly established tastes: consensus re. recordings with many virtues and few flaws, disagreement due to preferences of style. Thus were they included  in the M6 comparison, I would expect Sanderling's to do well among those who prefer overt drama, Gielen's to do well among those who prefer a subtler approach, and both to do very well overall due to the quality and conviction of the performances.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 04:34:12 AM
Even though I was able to participate in only the final round of the M6 trials (and only briefly at that thanks to a holiday with nothing much planned!), I welcomed the opportunity for blind listening to significant excerpts of a beloved work. The opportunity to hear them without prejudice re. the performers was a gift. Thanks, Daniel, for your time and effort spent preparing the clips and organizing the comparison! (And thanks to discobole for his efforts in the similar La Mer comparison!)

I would be nice to see vote totals at the end. That might reveal even more consensus and help clarify strongly divided opinion. After seeing the results of Disco's survey, I expect that both will prove the usual in such comparisons, especially given the small sample heavily biased toward those with firmly established tastes: consensus re. recordings with many virtues and few flaws, disagreement due to preferences of style. Thus were they included  in the M6 comparison, I would expect Sanderling's to do well among those who prefer overt drama, Gielen's to do well among those who prefer a subtler approach, and both to do very well overall due to the quality and conviction of the performances.

It's a pleasure, David - I am really glad that you enjoyed the M6 comparison! Shall be revealing the results for that very soon, and will include vote totals like you suggest (Thank you for that idea), just waiting for one or two more votes, so hopefully will have the results published by Wednesday. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 25, 2012, 05:33:08 AM
I'll join if you promise to include Sinopoli/New York  :D ;)

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on June 25, 2012, 05:37:15 AM
I'll join if you promise to include Sinopoli/New York  :D ;)

Sarge


Agreed! This is a powerful recording.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 07:18:26 AM
I'll join if you promise to include Sinopoli/New York  :D ;)

Sarge

Excellent, I shall try and get hold of that recording then. ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 25, 2012, 07:43:44 AM
I may give it a try, for fun, Daniel!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on June 25, 2012, 07:45:42 AM
Excellent, I shall try and get hold of that recording then. ;)


Do or do not, there is no try...I think I may have butchered that Yoda quote, confirmation please?

Maybe even the Blomstedt/SF, pretty exciting!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Opus106 on June 25, 2012, 07:58:40 AM
I may give it a try, for fun, Daniel!

Do give it a try, Karl. This comparison should be a convenient one for those short on time, as the piece is just around 90 seconds long. (What! It isnt'?)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 25, 2012, 08:00:55 AM
Well, the first two rounds are excerpts . . . .
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on June 25, 2012, 08:09:29 AM
Well, the first two rounds are excerpts . . . .

With a brief introduction by Stanley Kubrick...or some actors in gorilla costumes.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 08:17:00 AM
haha :)
I may give it a try, for fun, Daniel!

Great, Karl! I hope that you will enjoy it! :)


Do or do not, there is no try...I think I may have butchered that Yoda quote, confirmation please?

Maybe even the Blomstedt/SF, pretty exciting!

I am slightly confused, so shall leave it to the Star Wars people to confirm it for you. ;)
Thank you for the suggestion! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 25, 2012, 08:17:16 AM
With a brief introduction by Stanley Kubrick...or some actors in gorilla costumes.

And then, there's this:

http://www.youtube.com/v/ecpBU06aXZw
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 08:19:49 AM
:D
Do give it a try, Karl. This comparison should be a convenient one for those short on time, as the piece is just around 90 seconds long. (What! It isnt'?)

Will you be able to take part too, Nav? :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Opus106 on June 25, 2012, 08:22:07 AM
:D
Will you be able to take part too, Nav? :)

Nope. Sorry, Daniel.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on June 25, 2012, 08:27:30 AM
And then, there's this:

http://www.youtube.com/v/ecpBU06aXZw


Just as insightful as Kubricks vision, and certainly more entertaining.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 25, 2012, 11:29:04 AM
Nope. Sorry, Daniel.

No worries, Nav. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: classicalgeek on June 27, 2012, 11:07:22 AM
Well - the M6 one was certainly a lot of fun, with (at least to me) an unexpected winner! :D 

I can't resist a good blind listening test, so count me in for 'Also Sprach' as well.  I'm on vacation (with no computer access) July 9 through 19, but other than that I should be good.  Especially if the listening assignments are available beforehand, I can put them on my iPod :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 12:12:45 PM
Excellent, James - glad to hear that! :)

I shall make sure that the excerpts are out before then. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Brian on June 27, 2012, 12:21:07 PM
Not a piece I love wholeheartedly, but I think I could still be tempted to play. :)

But there's really no question the greatest recording ever committed is by the Orebro Community Music School in Sweden:

http://www.youtube.com/v/dJvTJd2fGdw

Listen and be amazed!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 12:26:56 PM
Not a piece I love wholeheartedly, but I think I could still be tempted to play. :)

But there's really no question the greatest recording ever committed is by the Orebro Community Music School in Sweden:

http://www.youtube.com/v/dJvTJd2fGdw

Listen and be amazed!

Glad to hear that, Brian! Will count you in! :)

Gosh... I've heard that quite a few times now... it just gets more and more painful each time though! ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 27, 2012, 01:18:39 PM
Really enjoying listening to various recordings of Also Sprach Zarathustra, such a great piece - and there are certainly some outstanding performances of it out there!

I think I have decided my favourites!
Hoping to start the comparison on Monday. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 27, 2012, 11:56:00 PM
Quote from: Brian on 27-06-2012, 23:21:07 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=20657.msg640196#msg640196)
But there's really no question the greatest recording ever committed is by the Orebro Community Music School in Sweden



The dissonances are excruciating. Strauss was far ahead of his time.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on June 28, 2012, 10:01:07 AM
Count me in this time. I have no recordings of this at my disposal here in Berlin and haven't listened for ages, so will be alt least partly an Innocent Ear in this case.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on June 28, 2012, 10:17:17 AM
Quote from: Brian on 27-06-2012, 23:21:07 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=20657.msg640196#msg640196)
But there's really no question the greatest recording ever committed is by the Orebro Community Music School in Sweden

The dissonances are excruciating. Strauss was far ahead of his time.


:D


Count me in this time. I have no recordings of this at my disposal here in Berlin and haven't listened for ages, so will be alt least partly an Innocent Ear in this case.

Excellent! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Opus106 on June 28, 2012, 10:31:06 AM
But there's really no question the greatest recording ever committed is by the Orebro Community Music School in Sweden:

Okay, it wasn't a wise decision to listen to that before going to bed.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 28, 2012, 01:29:04 PM
Quote from: Opus106 on 28-06-2012, 21:31:06 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=20657.msg640380#msg640380)
Okay, it wasn't a wise decision to listen to that before going to bed.



 :D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 04, 2012, 01:31:08 PM
Ok - I am finally starting to get the links out! Sent Group B out this evening, and hoping to get the other two groups out soon too!

There are 18 performances for comparison, so 6 in each group. The first part of the comparison focuses on two excerpts from close to the beggining of the piece. A rough voting deadline will be around the 18th July.

So, hopefully get Groups A and C out soon! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Carnivorous Sheep on July 04, 2012, 07:58:08 PM
Hey,

If it's not too late, I would like to play. Is there room in one of the remaining groups?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 05, 2012, 01:20:43 AM
Hey,

If it's not too late, I would like to play. Is there room in one of the remaining groups?

Of course - good to have you on board! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on July 05, 2012, 04:57:13 AM
But there's really no question the greatest recording ever committed is by the Orebro Community Music School in Sweden:

Contest and blind comparison over. This is the winner by a very wide margin...  ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 05, 2012, 12:03:19 PM
I have already listened to the B selection. I think I know which performances I prefer, but I'll listen again a few days from now, just to be sure...
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on July 06, 2012, 03:54:04 AM
I haven't received any links to excerpts for this - have I missed something?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 06, 2012, 04:31:26 AM
I haven't received any links to excerpts for this - have I missed something?
Somewhere he wrote he was still working on it. I hope he's not missing school or anything to do this though.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 07, 2012, 12:44:48 PM
Don't worry - Neal! :)
Today, I finished putting Group C together, so hopefully that will be sent out tommorow. And hopefully Group A the next day. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 08, 2012, 11:25:50 AM
I have already listened to the B selection. I think I know which performances I prefer, but I'll listen again a few days from now, just to be sure...

Excited to hear your thoughts, Johan! :)

Ok - Group C has been sent out now. If you have not recieved a link yet, you are in Group A, I hope to be sending that group out tommorow. :)

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on July 09, 2012, 05:17:49 AM
Where are those links? I can't see a single one.  ???
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 09, 2012, 07:39:57 AM
Where are those links? I can't see a single one.  ???

Don't worry! The links are sent by personal message. You are in Group A, which I hope to be sending out tonight. Apologies for taking quite a while, have been very busy recently... :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 09, 2012, 07:43:57 AM
I knew Andrei would be in the A Team! : )
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 09, 2012, 01:44:51 PM
Ok, all groups sent out now.

Florestan - your inbox is full so I couldn't send it to you, will try again tommorow. :)

Shall we use the 18th July as our first voting deadline? As always, this can be extended if necessary.

Happy Voting everyone!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on July 10, 2012, 04:40:01 AM
Florestan - your inbox is full so I couldn't send it to you, will try again tommorow. :)

Aha, that was the trick!  :)

Inbox pruned, please try again anytime you wish and thank you!  :-*
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on July 10, 2012, 04:40:45 AM
I knew Andrei would be in the A Team! : )

We are the champions, my frieeeeend...  8)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 10, 2012, 07:21:12 AM
Aha, that was the trick!  :)

Inbox pruned, please try again anytime you wish and thank you!  :-*

Ok, will send you the link now! :)

Right - as everyone seems fine with it, the deadline for this part of the comparison is the 18th July.

Also, as Neal spotted, I made a little mistake on the Group C link by accidently leaving the title 'C5' on for the 'C6' excerpts too.... Apologies for that, and thank you to Neal for spotting the mistake. The pair of excerpts for C6 start at 40.00 . :)

Happy Voting everyone!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on July 11, 2012, 07:47:00 AM
OK. I'll step in here where angels obviously fear to tread. My first impressions. I couldn't really make out how many excerpts there were, 2 or 3 - 4? Funny aural jump-cuts in some cases not evident on others. I have no recording of this at hand and haven't listened to it for a long time.

A1. Beginning distinctly underwhelming after the initial growl, lacking in tension.- the trumpets not at all annunciatory to my ears, the climax leaves me cold, something to do with the phrasing not binding the whole together, though there's plenty boom-boom. The instrumental texture is captured quite well in the following excerpt, but something is missing for me: call it "feeling" or whatever, but I don't have the feeling of suspense and tragic experience I want. There's a lot of effect-making, to be sure, big heroic gestures and sobbing strings, but no real cohesion.

A2. This beginning  impresses me more, more foreboding, followed by trumpets announcing with a paradoxically minatory promise. The climax doesn't lift me out of my seat, however. Also in the following I feel more tension & suspense than in A1., a sense of danger more apparent; the orchestral balance helps. It hangs together well, and there is a more doomladen feeling, a human being on the edge; not just a massive orchestral machine here. Even a dangerous sense of dissipation in the last passage - how will it continue? I like the muted brass in this, not so much the strings, which are, well, stringy.

A3. This sounds almost brusque to me - I can't make out the interpretative stance. In the second (?) passage the strings sound rather Rosenkavalierly, in general the conductor seems to me to be going for early Strauss schmalz plus excitement in a rather perfunctory way. Could be film music, hmm, makes me feel out of sympathy with this work, distinctly unpromising.

A4. Is this a live mono account? The beginning blew me away, seriously thrilling, on the edge (sorry about this mountaineering metaphor, it just seems to recur of its own accord, as it were). Despite the lack of spatial differentiation in the recording the work has tremendous plasticity & existential commitment. I suspect I know who is doing this to my central nervous system. Was he a mountaineer himself? The solo strings intervening in the maelstrom here towards the end of the second excerpt sound fragile and dismayed, almost drowning. This is a great artist at work, inspired.

A5. This is distinctly used LP sound at the start, but it swells up magnificently. Great organ sound. In the depths - what can be awaiting us? The 2nd excerpt finely judged at the start, but it is stereo after all despite the crackle & pop or am I mistaken? Very dramatically conceived, but less emotionally gripping here than A4.

A6. Very, I would say too slow and majestic, the ominous swell well maintained, though the climax doesn't make me leap out of my seat as A4. did. Some brilliant instrumental effects - pizzicati? in the following, yet it is all rather faceless to my ears.

 I couldn't - after one hearing - tell whether I was listening to exactly the same music excerpts each time after the introduction. My memory is not as good as it was, and I realise I need the whole integral work to make sense of parts of it. A4. sounded most integrated as a conception and in its execution.
Personal list in order of preference:
1. A4.
2. A5.
3. A2.
4. A6.
5. A1.
6. A3.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 11, 2012, 08:41:26 AM
Group C: Also Sprach Zarathustra

I have not listened to this piece in ages. At one time I had a Great Performances LP (Ormandy I think) that I listened to, but it must be at least 25 years since I have heard that. What’s more, I only own one version of it on CD, acquired recently in the DG Strauss Karajan box. I have not listened to it (I will wait until after the blind listening is complete to do so). I haven’t seen the movie 2001 for ages either (at least 10-15 years, so that should not be much of an influence either). So I approach this with pretty fresh ears.

A note about the score
Immediately, I am trying to figure out how the opening section should go. There are many differences for such a ‘simple’ opening (and one so well known), so I decided to seek out the score and try and figure out why some were working better than others and what they should be doing. And I was really surprised. The piece starts with double bass and contrabassoon. This lasts four bars before the trumpets enter in piano, and then the whole orchestra enters with the (dunt dah) soon after. The first group entrance is a sixteenth note in forte (the dunt in dunt dah), followed by a whole note. The whole note is held with a diminuendo and crescendo in that bar back to a forte. Drums then bang away in forte. The trumpets make their second entrance of the motif in mf (mezzo forte) and the third in forte. So the entrances should not sound identical. After the third time, there is some additional playing, and I won’t go into detail about it now. But on the last note that is held at the end of this opening section, there is again a diminuendo and crescendo in that last whole note, after which the organ holds longer.  Here is what I observed:

C1: Trumpets do p, mf, and f entrances. Difficult to detect a diminuendo in the last note of the dunt dah (more of a f to p quickly), which is partly why it seems too static. Strikes me as one long crescendo on that last note (no real diminuendo).
C2: Trumpets sound similar in first two (p and mf hard to differentiate). First diminuendo sounds like a diminuendo. Sixteenth note seems just right the first time, with perhaps a slightly longer hold the next two times.  I didn’t notice much of a diminuendo on the last note. But this still works well.
C3: Is first note held too long? Trumpets get louder each time. Sixteenth note held longer, with daylight between the dunt and the dah. Good diminuendo in the first, ok in second. Diminuendo on the last note clear as day! Hooray!
C4: Trumpets come in early. Trumpets - hard to differentiate first two entrances, but good forte on third. Diminuendo clear first two times. Sixteenth note is held too long. Diminuendo on last note not clear (I think there is an attempt, but hard to discern).
C5: Forgetting poor unison and sloppy entrances, trumpets enter at p, mf and f. Their sixteenth notes are noticeably shorter (in the dunt dah), which I thought too short, but seem to conform to the score (go figure – I guess I just got so used to longer held notes)! Diminuendo is there but a bit more abrupt in execution.
C6: Trumpets enter progressively louder. The diminuendo is particularly good in second entrance of motif. But the dunt dah sixteenth note sounds way long! What a differentiation compared to the previous! Diminuendo attempted, but all one seems to hear is the organ when they get softer.

So what to do? None of them really do what the score asks for (though some are closer than others). Sometimes when they do, they are ineffective and vice versa. They all play it so differently! The only reason this is easy to compare is that there is relatively little going on. And still, a lot of differences. Score is here for those interested: http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/c/ce/IMSLP19119-PMLP12187-Strauss_-_Also_sprach_Zarathustra__orch._score_.pdf  (http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/c/ce/IMSLP19119-PMLP12187-Strauss_-_Also_sprach_Zarathustra__orch._score_.pdf)

My Rankings

C3 and C2 were clear winners for me, followed by C4 solidly in third place. There is then a huge gulf (blackhole really) between 3rd and 4th. The last three were hard to rank for me as I felt they each had some major issues. I put them as C1, C5 and C6, but I felt all three were quite weak.

C1: Good drums. Decent start, but hold back too much and they play too sloppy (and not always in unision). Second clip has a lot of strength. It seems pretty good, so why am I resisting it? I think there is too little differentiation in loudness and phrasing.  Ranking: 4

C2: Much more internal variation of sound here. The drum sounds a bit dull, but that is in part because the sound here isn’t the greatest – sounds congested. Despite that, preferred it to C1. Has all sorts of detail in terms of phrasing and such and good energy.  Second clip has all the same advantages and disadvantages. Would have loved to hear this in better sound. Still, one can hear what the piece is about here. Chromaticism comes out well.  Ranking: 2

C3: Solid beginning, though not as inspiring as C2. But they seem to follow the score in a number of important areas that make this good.  Second clip has nice variation. Here we have some great detail (some of the brass details shine) and the energy is there (but you feel they could give even more, which creates tremendous impact). I liked the second clip best so far of all of them. Ranking: 1

C4: This one starts out with a deeper rumble, but I think the trumpets enter too early. This one is more ominous. Middle of the road in terms of differentiation. Not enough phrasing I think, but a pleasing start if one doesn’t mind the entrance problem. Very deep range of sound to the recording. The brass kill it! Second clip has some wonderful moments, but I feel there is a certain sameness to it. The loudness of it gets fatiguing. Ranking 3

C5: Slight break before trumpet entrance and some lack of unison playing (sloppy entrances in places, and places where instruments do not hold notes long enough leaving gaps). In second clip, better playing. Doesn’t really move forward like it should.   Ranking: 5

C6: Nice full sounding start. But then when the whole world should be shaking and this one is strangely reserved. The organ seems too heavily weighted here (distorting balance). The second clip has some decent phrasing, but is a bit bland. There are some out of tune moments too (I think it’s the oboe).  Ranking:  6
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 11, 2012, 01:29:27 PM
Thank you both for your votes! Very interesting comments, and thank you to Neal for posting that analysis of the opening. Very useful and fascinating.

Remember, that if you have finished your first group and wish to, and have the time in the next week, you can compare another of the groups (or even all 3)! Just let me know if you want to, and I'll send you the links. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TimH on July 13, 2012, 03:57:56 AM
1 = C1: Opening - spacious, great clarity, powerful timpani, monumental organ. Second excerpt - rich, lush strings, poise, thrilling and energetic, dreamy string section, sliding subtle harmonies.

2 = C3: Opening - slightly woolly timpani, but strong brass, ringing triangle and organ with triumphant climax. Second excerpt - warm vivid tone, surging, swirling, powerful, controlled, multilayered.

3 = C4: Opening - very powerful from outset, forward moving, huge timpani and overwhelming climax. Second excerpt - very "in your face", beefy, brash, fast - lacks finesse of C1 and C3 - all at one level of high intensity.

4 = C5: Opening - low impact, seems lightweight, rushing through. Second excerpt - slightly bland, thin, recording lacks detail and presence.

5 = C6 (incorrectly labelled as a second C5 on download, I think): Opening - slow, very controlled crescendo. Second excerpt - very out of tune organ makes a terrible sound, really grating - unforgivable!; in any case, bland, low impact, dragging, wallowing, low detail recording.

6 = C2: Opening - very thin congested sound, background noise and hiss. Second excerpt - sound distortion, strings sliding and swooping all over the place, of historical interest only?

So, in summary, for me not much to choose between C1 and C3, which are miles ahead of the other four.

Looking forward to the next stage!
Title: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 13, 2012, 02:57:38 PM
(http://img.tapatalk.com/4c61fab9-b5de-6334.jpg)

Got my beer and the score, bring on the comparison!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Brian on July 13, 2012, 04:56:42 PM
Ha! I put on the A group, listened to just about 35 seconds of A1, and thought, "this sounds too familiar..." Direct comparison proves it is indeed one of the three ASZ recordings I own.  ;D

Anyway, I'll naturally try to be as unbiased as possible. Looking forward to this very much!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 13, 2012, 05:16:31 PM
B1 might be the oldest recording of Zarathustra ever recorded  :o
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 13, 2012, 06:24:52 PM
B1 - An opening that stalls, no drive, the sixteenth notes are held way too long, a real snoozer of the Introduction. The 2nd section of the excerpt picked up speed and intensity, but very limited in sound quality, difficult to get an accurate feel and unfairly compared to some incredible digital accounts here where all the voices and instruments are audible, not here though.

B2 - Powerful opener, increased in size and strength, a little sloppy and lazy on the 16th-whole note transistion, but overall good first impression. The 2nd section is brimming with life, not overly rambunctious, but a little slow. Could have used a good pop when getting into Of Joys and Passions.

B3 - Brisk tempo, doesn’t slow to accentuate, drives forward but never completely hits it out, not enough to jar the listener, but it is superbly played. The 2nd section lacks power, but flows beautifully and again aided by some wonderful playing from the orchestra, despite the opening dud the rest has turned out to be very well done.

B4 - Possible chills-inducing, perfect tempo with an incredible crispness from the orchestra, minor quip with the timpani sounding a bit puny and way too much triangle, but like I said, minor, this one has muscle. The 2nd section was on fire! Hasty and fierce, this performance of Of Joys and Passions could easily replace the battle section from Heldenleben.

B5 - Very middle of the road, but in a good way, nothing overly emphasized, balance is spot on, the intensity is there but won’t rock you out of your chair. 2nd section has a nice display of the organ, which is always welcomed, continued to build with strong support from a confident orchestra. But still a little bland.

B6 - Wow, break that timpani!!! This is the most powerful opening of Zarathustra I’ve heard, not sure how to summarize it other than just listen and hold on. And for us score nerds, they get it right, the sixteenth note has the accent and the following whole note does not. The 2nd section shows some wonderful interpretation choices with phrasing and tempo, very mysterious, leading up to a lyrical Of Joys and Passions, a nice contrast considering the power of the intro, this section does however build into a forceful wallop. How is that timpani still together? 


This was a solid group, so different in their respective presentations. All were performed well, but all with different dramatic and visual offerings. I almost feel bad for B1, it's like the aging athlete who still, and always, will have that talent, but when up against the younger ones, their age and decaying body begins to take effect. I will say that I absolutely recognize one of them, and it's even one of my top choices, but there's a good chance it is getting beaten out by one I have not heard  ;)
The results...

1. B6
2. B4
3. B5
4. B2
5. B3
6. B1

It was a tough choice between B6 and B4, but B6 just felt more in touch with the music and it's emotional impact, definitely more inclined to tell a story and to offer a musical depiction of human feelings.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 14, 2012, 02:17:33 AM
That's the score I have too, Greg! :) Very interesting comments, thank you for posting!
How is that timpani still together? 


;D Plenty more of that to come! ;)

Looking forward to hearing your comments, Brian!

At the moment, there are only 4 people in each of the groups (apart from A), so does anyone want to do a second group if you have the time? :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 14, 2012, 02:19:42 AM
That's the score I have too, Greg! :) Very interesting comments, thank you for posting!
;D Plenty more of that to come! ;)

Looking forward to hearing your comments, Brian!

At the moment, there are only 4 in each of the groups (apart from A), so does anyone want to do a second group if you have the time? :)
Ok. I'll try to take one more group.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 14, 2012, 02:24:08 AM
Ok. I'll try to take one more group.

Great - thanks, Neal! Will send you Group B now. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on July 14, 2012, 04:03:24 AM
A1 - Opening: At first timid, hesitating, as if afraid of waking someone up from their nap; timpani   
overstated, the orchestra understated; the climax good but not overwhelming and clearly disconnected from what precedes it; nice organ at the end.

              - Excerpts: the slow parts nicely done with some lyrical effects especially in the dialogue between the two strings towards the end; the fast parts rushed, as if the conductor said "All right, gentlemen, let's get the job done asap and go home!"; overall a feeling of disconnection and fragmentation, as if different sound layers were put one on the top of the other; devoid of any feeling or emotion.

              - Final assessment: a very mixed bag with more bad than good.

 A2 - Opening: much better, bold and assertive; timpani beaten in desperation (I wonder if they were still any good after that...); organically following climax; impressive organ at the end.

              - Excerpts: a clear sense of menace and dark prophecy, rather compelling emotionally; the dialogue of the two strings drowned in a sea of unbalanced orchestral sound, lyrical effect ruined.

              - Final assessment: rather good.

A3 - Opening: majestic yet martial with a nice climax; organ sound too thick at the end.

              - Excerpts: light-hearted, even waltzy at times; reminds me more of Octavian than of Zarathustra; flowing, polished orchestral sound, no rough edges, no brusque transitions; all in all, a very  idiomatic reading.

              - Final assessment: good in its own way.

A4 - Opening: I suspect this is the farthest away from the score in terms of tempi and loudness in this batch but also the second best: fast, gripping and attention-catching, like a curtain rising over the drama of a human life.

              - Excerpts: dramatic to an end, with stark contrasts and aggressive transitions (and even an aggressive harp sound -- and to make a harp sound aggressive is a performance in itself methinks), the exact opposite of the previous one; very nicely balanced dialogue of the two strings over the orchestral mass.

              - Final assessment: excellent.

A5 - Opening: Very good this one too; the best organ sound of the whole lot, albeit I suspect somehow shorter than scored.

              - Excerpts: the best horns of the whole lot; the same overall approach as the previous one: dramatic, dark and heroic but with more bravura in the brass section; the two strings at the end dominating the orchestra make for a well-judged contrast.

              - Final assessment: excellent.

A6 - Opening: the most majestic and passionate of all; indeed thus spake Zarathustra: like a sunrise in all his splendor; the best of the whole lot.

              - Excerpts: this is half-way between the drama and excitement of A4 / A5 and the lightheartedness  of A3;  a very safe, well-balanced reading; If asked to name a good introductory record to ASZ I would say get this one.

              - Final assessment: very good.

My ranking:

1. A5
2. A4
3. A6
4. A2
5. A3
6. A1
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 14, 2012, 04:51:38 AM
Thank you for your vote and comments! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 14, 2012, 05:32:03 AM
The A Group.

I'm afraid none of these performances was really top drawer for me, though a couple, A2 and A5, I liked.

A1. I disliked the sound of the timpani, a bit too rubber-bandy "boing boing boing boing," to use a technical term, for my taste. And I didn't like the way the notes slid into each other at one point in the opening. One thing I did like, which upped its score for me, was that in the remaining clips the harp featured more prominently than I've ever heard in a performance of the piece before.
Not bad but not great.

A2 grew on me. At first I thought it was too magisterial, too pompous in the opening fanfare. That drawn out penultimate chord was too much, but I grew to like it. One thing that bothered me and I don't know if it's a glitch in the recording or the conductor's decision but it sounds like a split second at the end of the adrenalin-inducing "Great Longing" section is cut off, destroying the fade of the flutes. And it sounded like it was headed toward a memorable moment. I like that passage a lot; part of the reason A4  scored so low is that it sounds like they're not even trying there. Karajan's 1972 performance and Karl Bohm's performance, though different, both nail it.
A very technicolor performance. Not the way I usually hear Strauss, but in this case the best of a relatively weak bunch.

A3. Just no. Mjwal's term "brusque," puts it perfectly. No feel for drama. And that portamento in the "graveyard song" section. Yuk, to use another technical term.

A4 also didn't work for me. It wasn't just the mono sound, though the lack of depth was a problem. There were just too many things not working for me. The opening fanfare is decent enough but is then spoiled by that tinny toy cymbal crash at the end of it, made more noticeable because it comes in too early. Then the rest of the piece seems to take forever for to get going, like the players are stuck in molasses even though the tempos seem fine. I can't really explain it. That mono depth problem? It picks up a little toward the end, except for the lousy Great Longing climax mentioned earlier. But it has the opposite problem from A3 in that in Das Grablied there is no sense of weltschmerz, which you would think a graveyard might produce, unless I'm missing the point of that section.
It scores higher than A3 for me only because I have more to say about it than I do A3.

A5, LP pops and all, is the other one I like. It sounds like it could be Karajan's 1958 Decca recording Kubrick used in the movie, 2001.  I can't be sure because I only know the recording through the movie. The rest of the clips offered aren't bad, but if it IS the Karajan he improved between 1958 and his 1972 DG recording, one of my favorites. A5 has the homogenized sound of Karajan, plus the too-quick organ fade at the end of the opening recognizable from the film. The organ otherwise is great, just like in the movie. If it's not the Karajan, one of the conductors  imitated the other.

A6, a little but of a muddy opening, and why does it speed up toward the end of that opening? Otherwise, middle of the pack.


Ranking:

1. A2
2. A5
3. A1
4. A6
5. A4
6. A3
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 15, 2012, 08:01:31 AM
Thank you for that vote, Jim - and for deciding to do another group also, looking forward to hearing your thoughts on that group!

Does anyone else want to do another group? Would be nice to have as many votes as possible! :)

And also, just a reminder: the first voting deadline for this part is the 18th July. So, this Wednesday. If you think you will need extra time, please do let me know. :)

Happy Voting!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 15, 2012, 11:53:05 PM
Group B: Also Sprach Zarathustra

Wow! The C group had a couple good alternatives, but this one is strong pretty much from top to bottom. I will be happy with almost any winners here as they all do a lot right. So I picked B5, B6, B2, B4, B3, and B1 in that order. I have to admit that B5 does not have the ideal sound, but the amount of detail here is so impressive. This version has a lot to say and is effective at saying it. So while others may play with more abandon at times or create moments of tremendous intensity, I felt it was B5 that really captured the whole. Having said that, they are all of high quality. B6 and B5 complement each other well though, and I surprise myself by not going with the more bombastic one.

My Rankings
B1: If you like the opening reaaallllyyy sssssssssssllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow, then this is for you (Sarge, you reading this?!). It has some beauty to it, and the control of the orchestra is actually pretty impressive. The rest is more or less ok (and at normal speed), though sound of this one is older.  Ranking: 6.

B2: Unison is the opening is not as together as it could be, but the impact is good anyway.They got the diminuendo toward the end of the opening spot on. The second clip was also good. It could have had that bit extra in terms of volatility and power, but hard to criticize. Ranking: 3.

B3: Opening trumpets too punchless/tentative (and legato effect not really called for I think), but orchestra entrances compensate. Decent impact, but too limited in phrasing (though they do the diminuendo at the end of the first section).  Second clip again has trumpets that come in too gently – impact is tentative rather than gentle/light/soft. Not my favorite. Ranking: 5.

B4: There’s punch in the orchestra on this one! Nice start. This one is perhaps too heavy on the brass (impressive as they are). Diminuendo is not quite as good as B2, but it is clearly there. Second clip is exciting, yet I find I miss the strings from B3 here. Hmmm, wasn’t expecting that. Something about the balance here I don’t like.  Ranking: 4.

B5: Sound here is a bit subdued to my ear. If not for that, it would be a nearly perfect beginning. Not the most intense, but everything is meticulously done (with markings almost entirely observed). The second clip has tremendous impact (and so many details that none of the others have) and I am swept away (I am interestingly, and for the first time, reminded of the Alpine Symphony here). So the impact could be greater in terms of weight and intensity, but the balance and playing are gorgeous. Stylistically, this was my favorite.  Ranking: 1.
 
B6: Entrances are good, but then strangely softer on the whole note (where it should still be forte at the beginning of the bar, and the sixteenth note is held a bit on the long side), which means the diminuendo crescendo impact is weakened (though they get it right on the third repeat of the motif). Nice diminuendo at the end, but I wonder if they let it all out a bit too early (they have nowhere to go)?  Second clip is very good. It is powerful and intense. But I think it shows its hand too early and could control the climaxes better. Still - outstanding.  Ranking: 2.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 16, 2012, 08:47:04 AM
Thank you for your vote and comments, Neal! Really glad that you enjoyed that group so much! :)

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Carnivorous Sheep on July 16, 2012, 12:26:00 PM
Here are my votes, I'll add in additional comments later today:

A6, A5, A4, A2, A1, A3
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 16, 2012, 11:36:02 PM
Group A: Also Sprach Zarathustra

A mixed group. I liked A4 and A5, despite less than ideal sound, though I heard better in other groups. A6 and A2 were next and quite close. A3 and A1 were last. Perhaps these last two should be reversed in order, but I wasn’t going to listen to them again to be sure!  Having now listened to all three groups, the B group was the strongest group. At least half of the next round should come from that group in my opinion (even if not the ones I picked).

My Rankings

A1: Sixteenth note held too long with a big gap between it and the whole note (and a bit mushy on some entrances). Has some out of tune brass (and organ too dominant and loud, as much as I like it). Balance is off. Second clip is better. Nice harp! Why do they seem to be speeding up more and more (and for so long)? It’s not terrible, but the reason for it escapes me. Ranking: 6

A2: Good start, though again a pause between sixteenth note and whole note. Holds some notes a bit long, but decent diminuendo at the end. Second clip is nice, but would have liked a bit more phrasing and such. Balance seems to favor the highs a bit (which are sometimes a bit thin), which doesn’t help. Ranking: 4

A3: Softer start, but sixteenth note held so long (again with a pause between it and the whole note)! Decent diminuendo at the end of the first section though. Second clip has a dull opening. I think the orchestra has been placed back a bit and thus it loses on intimacy and comes across a bit cold. Playing is ok though (so I blame the engineering on this one).  Ranking: 5

A4: Distorted sound, but quite thrilling (and generally played as marked). Imagine this in good sound!  And a sweet diminuendo at the end! The second clip has so many details. Every note and phrase seems to have purpose here.  Ranking: 2

A5: Whoa, now talk about an effective start! Really fine (though organ perhaps stands out too much and ends too early). Second clip has the spirit of the piece quite nicely. It has very precise playing. I would love to hear this in better sound. Ranking: 1

A6: Pause between the sixteenth note and whole note first time round. Strong reverb on the drums. Builds well though. Speed up in tempo is not to my taste (and diminuendo is weak). Second clip is quite good. I like the flow here and some good detail. Ranking: 3
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Florestan on July 17, 2012, 03:59:46 AM
Group A: Also Sprach Zarathustra

A mixed group. I liked A4 and A5, despite less than ideal sound, though I heard better in other groups. A6 and A2 were next and quite close. A3 and A1 were last. Perhaps these last two should be reversed in order, but I wasn’t going to listen to them again to be sure!  Having now listened to all three groups, the B group was the strongest group. At least half of the next round should come from that group in my opinion (even if not the ones I picked).

My Rankings



Wow! Your ranking is exactly like mine.   :-*
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 17, 2012, 04:51:41 AM
Thank you for doing all 3 groups, Neal! Really enjoy reading your comments! :)

Ok - around one more day to vote! Agin, if you need more time, please let me know!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 17, 2012, 05:05:23 AM
Greg                Neal
1. B6               1. B5
2. B4               2. B6
3. B5               3. B2
4. B2               4. B4
5. B3               5. B3
6. B1               6. B1

Here's the only results from the B group, myself and Neal. Interesting contrast. Nice write-ups on all your comparisons, Neal.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 17, 2012, 05:25:51 AM
Wow! Your ranking is exactly like mine.   :-*
That is wow. I did not read your comments until later, and still did not realize that our order was the same. I had a tough time with group A though. I think C had 2-3 good  (but not great) ones with some really lousy ones. Group B was just strong across the board. Group A didn't really evoke quite as strong a reaction either way. But there is a lot more piece to listen to, so should be interesting in the next round.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 17, 2012, 05:28:21 AM
Greg                Neal
1. B6               1. B5
2. B4               2. B6
3. B5               3. B2
4. B2               4. B4
5. B3               5. B3
6. B1               6. B1

Here's the only results from the B group, myself and Neal. Interesting contrast. Nice write-ups on all your comparisons, Neal.
Thanks. We were quite similar. That group had a number of strong candidates though. I would be happy with any of the top 4 getting through (even if not my order).
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 17, 2012, 05:44:22 AM
Thanks. We were quite similar. That group had a number of strong candidates though. I would be happy with any of the top 4 getting through (even if not my order).

I feel the same way, with bottom 2 I'm fine not moving on. Interested to hear the rest of the excerpts. Unfortunately I know who B4 is, so I'm trying to be a little un-bias considering I really love that recording.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 17, 2012, 12:39:30 PM
One more day to post your votes! If you do need extra time, please still feel free to let me know! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 17, 2012, 01:39:21 PM
Something intervened today and I haven't been able to double-check again. Do I have the whole of 18 July still available? Then I can make it in time (just)....
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 17, 2012, 10:44:00 PM
Something intervened today and I haven't been able to double-check again. Do I have the whole of 18 July still available? Then I can make it in time (just)....

Don't worry, Johan - all of today until 10.00 pm. And if you need extra time after that, please let me know. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on July 18, 2012, 01:32:37 AM
Group B was very interesting, I enjoyed listening to it very much; I'll post all my comment this evening. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 18, 2012, 06:41:32 AM
The C group. Fun selection. For me the top and bottom picks were easy. The ones in between were really difficult to choose among. Each of the middle choices had qualities I liked but also things I didn't care for.

C1. Tops all around. I might have liked a little better definition in the opening fanfare but it was hard to complain while being swept right along. The rest of the excerpts were all thrilling. Clear top choice.

With C2, the older mono sound put it at a distinct disadvantage after the brilliant C1. The timpani sounded as if recorded in a bathtub, the thin oboe was distracting. But, in all, it's an wonderful performance. It had more than enough drive and variety. Ultimately I couldn't find anything in the performance to find fault with. This one started off low in my estimation - sorry, I'm shallow; for an orchestral blockbuster like Zarathustra I like a big sound.  But after several listenings I thought it an excellent performance and couldn't decide if it was my second favorite or third. It ended at number 3.

The opening to C3 is pleasant, if a bit too civilized. What follows starts off sounding uninspired but after a thrilling climax at the "great longing" everything falls into place beautifully. Second choice.

C4. Great fanfare, possibly the best,  but I would have liked just a bit more space between the last two chords in that opening. But I grew to like what the conductor did. (I'll bet the space I like isn't in the score anyway.) What keeps this from placing higher is the relentlessness, especially toward the end. It sounds the way I would imagine Solti conducting it.  (Not saying it's Solti!)

C5 has a good opening but the rest sounds rushed through. But I kept coming back to it because the individual voices in the orchestra are nicely displayed.

Finally, and this was a bit of a relief, C6 clearly brings up the rear. The opening is a bit plodding. I'm not at all fond of the organ sound. I'll give the conductor credit for trying different things but they don't really work for me, such as slowing down unexpectedly. With this one I could have used use some relentlessness.

Ranking, almost in order as heard:

1. C1
2. C3
3. C2
4. C4
5. C5
6. C6 
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 18, 2012, 08:04:48 AM
Thank you very much for your second vote, Jim!

Ok, another 4 hours or so to place your vote. Just waiting for 4 or 5 more. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 18, 2012, 08:08:43 AM
Thy will be done, later tonight...
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 18, 2012, 08:16:51 AM
Thy will be done, later tonight...

Looking forward to seeing your thoughts, Johan!

And just so you all know what is happening at the end of this round: 2 recordings will be eliminated from each group, leaving 12 to go through to the next round. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 18, 2012, 11:04:17 AM
Looking forward to seeing your thoughts, Johan!

And just so you all know what is happening at the end of this round: 2 recordings will be eliminated from each group, leaving 12 to go through to the next round. :)

Daniel, I need another day. Sorry. So if you can put off tabulating until about four or five tomorrow afternoon?

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 18, 2012, 11:26:07 AM
Daniel, I need another day. Sorry. So if you can put off tabulating until about four or five tomorrow afternoon?

Sarge

That's fine, Sarge, tommorow evening it is then. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 18, 2012, 11:26:43 AM
I happen to be able to be just in (the original) time... First, very briefly, my thoughts on the six recordings, and then my verdict.


B1. Archaic-sounding. Opening fanfare too sluggish and ponderous. The second fragment is passionate enough, though.
B2. A slight 'grace-note' in the beginning, which I don't like - the tone must be 'there' from the start. Fanfare too slow. Sound better than in B1. Second fragment too 'beautiful', not fiery enough.
B3. Here another 'grace-note' at the start. The lightning flash, so to speak, is a tad too deliberate - especially at its first appearance it must sound almost frightening and very incisive. Second fragment not passionate enough.
B4. Opening correct. 'Lightning' okay. Timpani too weak. Organ a bit too loud, perhaps, at the end. Second fragment: excellent tension and build-up to the fiery outburst. Requisite passion.
B5. Opens correctly. Fanfare well-played, but too sluggish. Timpani too dull. Second fragment: build-up too beautiful, outburst itself okay.
B6. Most epic recording. Big sound. Perhaps interpretatively middling, but persuasive and thrilling.


My verdict: B6, B4, B5, B1, B2, B3.


But none of the performances blew me away.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 18, 2012, 11:33:38 AM
Greg                Neal.                        J.Z.
1. B6               1. B5                      1. B6
2. B4               2. B6                      2. B4
3. B5               3. B2                      3. B5
4. B2               4. B4                      4. B1
5. B3               5. B3                      5. B2
6. B1               6. B1                      6. B3

Here's the only results from the B group, myself, Johan and Neal. Interesting contrast. Nice write-ups on all your comparisons, Neal.

Intereting. Almost identical for Johan and myself. I think Sarge is in B group also.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 18, 2012, 11:35:57 AM
You'll find I made a slight change, to acknowledge the fact that B1 got the second clip better than either B2 or B3 (B2 and B3 are equally good/bad)...


--Johan
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 18, 2012, 11:38:05 AM
And I put the correct name in this time also!
Thanks, Johan.  ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 18, 2012, 11:41:24 AM
I didn't read the others' verdict until after I gave mine, so the similarities really do say something.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 18, 2012, 12:22:56 PM
Sorry to hear that you did not enjoy Group B as much as you could have done, Johan. I hope you will be more impressed with the other recordings that get through to the next round! :)

Just awaiting two more votes now, as soon as they have been collected, I shall start work on posting the results, and sending out the links for part 2!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 18, 2012, 12:24:22 PM
O, but I did enjoy it! It made some things clear about what I seem to like to hear in the piece, which is always interesting!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 18, 2012, 12:32:41 PM
O, but I did enjoy it! It made some things clear about what I seem to like to hear in the piece, which is always interesting!

Glad to hear that, Johan! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on July 18, 2012, 12:56:23 PM
Hmm, I'm deeply sorry I can't post my thought this evening; if I may have some extra time, I'll write them tomorrow morning.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 18, 2012, 01:20:47 PM
Hmm, I'm deeply sorry I can't post my thought this evening; if I may have some extra time, I'll write them tomorrow morning.

That's fine, Ilaria, don't worry - I shall collect in the results tommorow evening. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on July 19, 2012, 05:45:33 AM
Here are my votes for group B:

B1: Hmmm, a very old recording. In Einleitung the orchestral playing is nice, with a brilliant and emphatic introduction of double basses, contrabassons and organ for the dawn motif; overall the performance could be very thrilling and powerful if it didn't have a so slow tempo, which makes the piece lack some strenght. The rythm improves in the excerpt of Von den Hinterweltieren (like in the other parts), where the solemnity and the intensity of the whole section start to be perceived. The next two movements are very good, passionate and overwhelming, especially in Von den Freuden und Leidenschaft, where the strings arrive at the peak of tension. Lyrical, enchanting final part.
B2: The introduction is beautiful, rich of energy and expressive strenght; also the short part of the second movement is fine, creating a deep and involving atmosphere. The strings at the end of Von des grossen Sehnsucht are slightly too slow, I think they should be a bit more aggressive and powerful to introduce the following movement, which as a matter of fact sound lacking some passion and tension in the opening. Anyway dynamics and phrasing are very good overall, while the sound is excellent very clear.
B3: Powerful and intense opening, with strong blows of timpani; the tempo seems to be slightly faster compared to that of previous recordings, but it works very well, making the movement evocative and emphatic. Excellent use of strings and woodwinds (brilliant solo of brass too) at the beginning of Von den grossen Sehnsucht, very lyrical and suggestive, continuing in the following section as well: there the atmosphere is passionate, tense but moving. Lovely dynamics and phrasing amongs the themes, although I sometimes have the impression that some instruments are covered by the rest of the orchestra.
B4: Remarkable recording. All the piece is performed in a passionate, expressive way; the orchestral playing is gorgeous and powerful (although I didn't like the timpani in the opening), with a great sound and a particularly beautiful phrasing of the strings between the third and the fourth movement. Brilliant dynamics. The choice of tempo is maybe the weakest point, it sometimes seems that there are little variations of rythm, which changes a bit too much amongs some sections.
B5: Energetic introduction, where the atmosphere created is very intense and evocative (I appreciated the strong sound of the organ, the effect is majestic); the whole performance is pervaded by a great power and beauty thought, especially in Von den grossen Sehnsucht, which also shows a splendid, atmospehric opening, and in Von den Freuden und Leidenschaft, there the orchestral playing become quite involving and overwhelming. Excellent tempo and dynamics overall, although at the end of the third movement the rythm slows down too much before the following part starts, breaking the strong, thrilling. climax achieved and making the sectiong lack some intensity.
B6: Wow, regarding the expressive strenght, this is the most intense and emotionally powerful recording of the group; even too much, as the blows of timpani in Einleitung are slightly too vigorous and aggressive. But overall the piece sounds passionate and thrilling, very handled and playful; the sound of the instruments is very well balanced. I liked the choice of tempi.

In order:
B3
B6
B5
B4
B2
B1
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 19, 2012, 06:22:18 AM
My Rankings
B1: If you like the opening reaaallllyyy sssssssssssllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow, then this is for you (Sarge, you reading this?!).

;D :D ;D  In fact, I do like it. Pity the sound isn't better but as an interpretation it appeals to me. I'll be ordering it once I find out who it is.

1 - B4 Not my favorite sunrise (and the organ sounds a little weird--for once I'm glad the final chord wasn't held long) but I like the passion of this performance (especially in the "Joys and Passions" section) and I like the sound of the recording. Love the forward brass.

2 - B5 The interpretation appeals to me greatly; it has that lovely, oily, fin de siècle Straussian decadence about it (it would probably be no.1 if that were all I was taking into consideration) but the sound lacked that last ounce of impact (dull timpani compared to B4 and B6, harp not distinct enough, etc), a recording with more depth than detail.

3 - B2 Majestic rather than exciting opening but I like it...and love the way the final organ chord is elongated (seven seconds!)

4 - B6  A monster of a recording, impactful sound and great performance, but let down by an interpretation that didn't really turn me on after the sunrise.

5 - B3 Wimpy sunrise (overcast that day?  ;D )

6 - B1

 
Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 19, 2012, 08:14:55 AM
Thank you both for your votes! Collecting them all now, shall hopefully be able to reveal tommorow. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 20, 2012, 07:16:48 AM
Just writing up the results for Round 1 now! Links for Round 2 shall also be posted tonight. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on July 20, 2012, 09:02:44 AM
Good, can't wait to see the results! ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 20, 2012, 09:40:26 AM
Round 1 RESULTS!

18. C6 New York Philharmonic/Guiseppe Sinopoli (DG/1990)
First of all - Sorry, Sarge! This recording was criticised for 'plodding' and being too 'reserved and bland'. 



17. A3 San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Herbert Blomstedt (Decca/1998)
This recording was thought of as dull with no feel for the drama. The engineering was also criticised, the orchestra sounded too distant.



16. B1 Boston Symphony Orchestra/Serge Koussevitzky (Dutton/1935)
B1 might be the oldest recording of Zarathustra ever recorded  :o
I believe you were right Greg! You all seemed to have found the opening far too slow, and boring, as well as finding the sound incredibly limited.



15. A1 Staatskapelle Dresden/Rudolf Kempe (EMI/1971)
Most felt that this recording was devoid of any emotion, and too hesitant and understated.



14. C5 Berliner Philharmoniker/Karl Bohm (DG/1958)
This recording was criticised for being bland, low in impact and for the 'sloppy' ensemble playing.



13. B2 Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Jarvi (Chandos/2004)
Generally rather well liked, and only just missing out on going through to Round 2, this recording was praised for being 'brimming with life', but was also called a little slow and lacking just the extra bit of power. Very close!

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on July 20, 2012, 10:12:47 AM
Wow, what interesting results, some very famous names have still been left out....Sinopoli, Kempe, Bohm. :) Glad to see Karajan's recording has passed the turn, I'm looking forward to the next round!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 20, 2012, 10:18:41 AM
Thanks, Daniel! Very interesting. I know the Kempe well and I like it, but it's out, too. Oh well... Looking forward to the next exciting instalment!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 20, 2012, 11:17:50 AM
My pleasure, glad you are enjoying it! :)

All links have now been sent. The voting deadline shall be the 1st August if that is OK with everyone. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 20, 2012, 11:44:30 AM
Round 1 RESULTS!

18. C6 New York Philharmonic/Guiseppe Sinopoli (DG/1990)
First of all - Sorry, Sarge! This recording was criticised for 'plodding' and being too 'reserved and bland'. 



GGRRRRRRR  >:(

If M forever and I had been in group C it would have made it through.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 20, 2012, 11:47:17 AM
Wow, Sinopoli and Blomstedt with the one and done, shocking. Two of my favorites.
Oh well, there is at least one in there I know that I really enjoy and hoping another one of my top choices in there. Lots of fun, well done, Daniel!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 20, 2012, 11:50:47 AM

GGRRRRRRR  >:(

If M forever and I had been in group C it would have made it through.

Sarge
I'm curious. What exactly do you like about it? I fully admit that hearing only an excerpt is nothing like listening to the whole thing, but I really disliked it - a lot. Strange too, because I'm usually an admirer of his.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 20, 2012, 11:56:47 AM
13. B2 Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Jarvi (Chandos/2004)
Generally rather well liked, and only just missing out on going through to Round 2, this recording was praised for being 'brimming with life', but was also called a little slow and lacking just the extra bit of power. Very close!



That's really a surprise! I would not have guessed Järvi...never. I don't associate what I heard with his style. So much for stereotypes.

But here's the kicker: I own it!...but I've have never listened to it. I bought that twofer specifically for the Sinfonia domestica and never got around to listening to Zarathustra. Well...I guess that's god's way of telling me I have too many recordings  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 20, 2012, 11:59:30 AM
I'm curious. What exactly do you like about it? I fully admit that hearing only an excerpt is nothing like listening to the whole thing, but I really disliked it - a lot. Strange too, because I'm usually an admirer of his.

Hey, Neal. Mrs. Rock and I are on our second bottle of wine. I'll give you an answer tomorrow, after my head clears  ;)

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 20, 2012, 12:07:26 PM
Hey, Neal. Mrs. Rock and I are on our second bottle of wine. I'll give you an answer tomorrow, after my head clears  ;)

Sarge
Oh gosh- enjoy the wine! Good to see you have your priorities straight!  ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on July 20, 2012, 12:15:39 PM
Wow, Sinopoli and Blomstedt with the one and done, shocking. Two of my favorites.


GGRRRRRRR  >:(

If M forever, Monkey Greg and I had been in group C Sinopoli would have made it through.

Sarge

There. My post corrected  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 20, 2012, 04:58:01 PM
I am very surprised Sinopoli came in dead last. I usually like him a lot. But I voted on him and I didn't like his performance, at least what I heard of it. Same with the Blomstedt, which was my least favorite of all. So I'm a culprit in their demise.
Wonder how many Karajans are included. There are three in all, I think.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 22, 2012, 11:50:56 PM
Group Y: Also Sprach Zarathustra
I found these less differentiating than the other sections. And although A4 is not perfect, it captured a certain style that I enjoyed here, which is why I put it in first. I wish I could have heard the entire dance song instead of two shorter clips – I think I would have heard bigger differences (and I think I might have had very different rankings). Still, quite interesting.

My Rankings
A4: Well played. Sound not ideal.  Nice dance (3/4 time) impact and I enjoyed effect of the violin here. There is something about this one that captured the dance extremely well. Some imprecision in spots, but overall was good (and I can only imagine what this would sound like in good sound). Ranking: 1

A6: Better sound allows one to hear everything better, and it starts ok. The dance doesn’t have the impact of A4, but is rather bland. I think this is in part due to the lack of character in the violin. And despite better sound, the violin seems to get lost in the whole.  Ranking: 5

B3: Nice start with good impact from the strings and harp. You can really hear all the details here. Dance (waltz) impact is good. But I still prefer the violin playing from A4 here.  I do prefer the balance of this one to A6, but the brass seem to be subdued (is this a performance issue or a recording issue?). Ranking: 2

B5: Nice start in terms of hearing everything. It also has great forward movement. The dance/waltz effect is pretty good here. The violin is fine, though I think I’d prefer a hair more highlight on it. But the orchestral impact at the end is strong.  Ranking: 3

C1: Start is ok, but does not produce the same impact as some of the others. It relies on big sound rather than detail and phrasing. Dance seems too lacking in character, though violin has a bit more angst to it, which I like. I find the orchestra lacks any subtlety here. Ranking: 6.

C4: Another one where the individual instruments really shine though. Dance (3/4 time) here has nice character of violin and rhythm, though unison is sometimes off. Recorded sound is not ideal.  Ranking: 4
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 23, 2012, 02:40:09 AM
Thank you for your vote, Neal - very interesting choices indeed! :D

Do you think you would have time to do the other group in the next week? Only if you want to of course. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on July 26, 2012, 02:42:52 AM
GROUP X Part 2
When I started I began to think either a) there was a musical reason why I haven't listened to this in some time - or b) that I'm not in a listening mood - or c) that it's very hard to do really well. There is a metaphysical aspect to this work, of course, just as there is - less obviously - in the Alpensinfonie, and I didn't sense much of that in these performances until my clear favourite arrived.

A2  Clear but thin-textured; faceless, directionless performance, no thrills at all.
A5  There's more bite and Schwung here, more warmth too - but I'm not popping my cork.
B4  More presence and spatial "counterpoint", as it were - more colour differentiation than the preceding, a touch of hysteria but no warmth,no real shaping of climaxes.
B6  While this has clarity and a certain depth of sound, it seems to me to be a tad too static, lacking in drama or direction; it keeps reminding me of 2nd-rate, insipid Rosenkavalier.
C2  This grips me from the start. it has vivid immediacy despite the mono recording, use of hairpin dynamics to increase power and tension. This is the first to impart a sense of strangeness to the dance passage, mainly through the fine-tuning of the rhythmic and dynamic balance; the way it gives me a frisson, combining wit and existential daring, makes me think it may be a Viennese conductor.
C3  This has a good feeling for colour contrast, the recording is very good - the harps! A luscious sound but less rhythmic pointing than C2, it does not transport me in the same way.
RATING
1. C2
2. C3
3. B4
4. A5
5. B6
6. A2
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 26, 2012, 05:30:04 AM
Ah, side two. Sorry, remembering LP days.

I  was fortunate to be given the opportunity to listen to two groups the first time around, A and C. I didn't much care for the A group and that follows through in the second round where both A recordings bring up the rear for me.

A2, starts out a bit fast and the violin in the dance lacks the last degree of schmaltz I like in that section. Good orchestra though, which goes a long way in this piece.

A5, decent but nothing out of the ordinary. That's really all I can say.

B4 Excellent. Taught. A bit driven. Characterful. Really nice waltz. Lot of inner voices noted but no particular focus on any. In other words, well balanced. Trombones are a bit rude. I like that.
The drive may not appeal to everyone but others may enjoy it. I'm almost convinced.

B6. Starts out a little dull, but then has a great build up, or maybe it only sounds more exciting because of the contrast to the dull opening. The waltz is middle of the road.

C2. Loved it.  It's my favorite of the bunch and I'm amazed to say that because the sound is easily the worst. Waltz exaggerated. I don't care. Violin way too prominent - put a big microphone right on top of that that baby why don't you. Still don't care. Committed original performance. It sounds like a great orchestra, despite the sonic limitations. Infectiously up-beat, which may not be what the scores calls for all the time. Still don't care. It's my top pick in this grouping. I couldn't really recommend this as a top choice for anyone, but I'm going to be seeking it out once I find out who it is.

C3 Lovely. Harps add a gorgeous filigree to the overall sound. Love the delightful conversation between the flute and oboe at the very end of the clip. All the recordings have that but it stood out for me in this one. C3 and B4 were a toss up.

In order:

1. C2
2. C3
3. B4
Then a bit of a drop for
4. B6
5. A2
6. A5
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 26, 2012, 05:36:24 AM
That was Group X by the way.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 27, 2012, 01:37:22 AM
Thank you both very much for your votes! Very interesting indeed!

Just a reminder that the voting deadline for this part is the 1st August. If you have the time the other group as well, that would be excellent! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 27, 2012, 02:10:29 AM
I was hoping you'd ask. Yes please to another round.
Aug. 1 doesn't leave a lot of time but the weekend is here.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 27, 2012, 05:10:01 AM
I was hoping you'd ask. Yes please to another round.
Aug. 1 doesn't leave a lot of time but the weekend is here.

Great - have sent you the link for Group Y. :) If you need it, I can add another day onto the deadline. I'll be going away on the 5th so won't have computer access for a week, so it would be good to have all the links for the final part sent out by then. 
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 27, 2012, 03:24:03 PM
Even though I've only had these for a short while I think I'm ready. I've spent all day with these, so excellent were so many of them I couldn't stop listening.

What a difference in excerpts. Two of my least favorite performances from the A group I had in the first round appear here and my feelings are completely different. I love them! I had to go back to the earlier Sunrise excerpts to see if I had screwed up. No, still don't like them in the earlier sections.
All in the top four are worthy. The Bs were the slight weak link in this section.
Comparing A4 with C2 will be fascinating if they both make it through.

A4 starts off brilliantly. Great dynamism and intricacy with heaps of excitement. It settles down a bit but stays deeply involving. The performance sounds spontaneous, almost as if the musicians were creating music off the cuff. This could have been my top choice if not for the sound quality; the quality of C1 in that regard was just too much for A4 to beat.

A6. Very good also. Almost as much dynamism. It scores a little lower because the dance feels just slightly rushed. Performances among the top four were all wonderful so I'm looking at tiny things to mark differences.

B3. Undernourished opening. Not terrible, but never really got going for me. Waltz was pleasant.

B5. Hard to find fault anywhere. A little lower energy in the opening, Waltz was fine. It just didn't excite me as much.

C1. Now we're talking. Excellent. A little homogeneous but the energy is infectious, building as it goes. A tepid violin near the opening of the dance was at first the the only flaw for me, minor though it was. Eventually I even liked that for the sense of nostalgia it created. A rich, warm tapestry of sound lead by an insightful conductor with a remarkable orchestra that eventually overwhelms. It's not perfect; C4 opens better. But C4's in-your-face quality ultimately wears me down. C1 gets better with each listening.

C4 was my favorite going through four listenings, but by the fifth hearing it's technicolor, unsubtle quality began to tire me. Love the up-front timpani at the opening. This would excite any audience that heard it just once in concert. There's really no reason to punish it just because I've listened to 10 times. And yet I do, down to a respectable number 3.

 Ranking:
1. C1
2. A4
3. C4
4. A6
5. B5
6. B3
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 27, 2012, 10:53:59 PM
Even though I've only had these for a short while I think I'm ready. I've spent all day with these, so excellent were so many of them I couldn't stop listening.

What a difference in excerpts. Two of my least favorite performances from the A group I had in the first round appear here and my feelings are completely different. I love them! I had to go back to the earlier Sunrise excerpts to see if I had screwed up. No, still don't like them in the earlier sections.
All in the top four are worthy. The Bs were the slight weak link in this section.
Comparing A4 with C2 will be fascinating if they both make it through.

A4 starts off brilliantly. Great dynamism and intricacy with heaps of excitement. It settles down a bit but stays deeply involving. The performance sounds spontaneous, almost as if the musicians were creating music off the cuff. This could have been my top choice if not for the sound quality; the quality of C1 in that regard was just too much for A4 to beat.

A6. Very good also. Almost as much dynamism. It scores a little lower because the dance feels just slightly rushed. Performances among the top four were all wonderful so I'm looking at tiny things to mark differences.

B3. Undernourished opening. Not terrible, but never really got going for me. Waltz was pleasant.

B5. Hard to find fault anywhere. A little lower energy in the opening, Waltz was fine. It just didn't excite me as much.

C1. Now we're talking. Excellent. A little homogeneous but the energy is infectious, building as it goes. A tepid violin near the opening of the dance was at first the the only flaw for me, minor though it was. Eventually I even liked that for the sense of nostalgia it created. A rich, warm tapestry of sound lead by an insightful conductor with a remarkable orchestra that eventually overwhelms. It's not perfect; C4 opens better. But C4's in-your-face quality ultimately wears me down. C1 gets better with each listening.

C4 was my favorite going through four listenings, but by the fifth hearing it's technicolor, unsubtle quality began to tire me. Love the up-front timpani at the opening. This would excite any audience that heard it just once in concert. There's really no reason to punish it just because I've listened to 10 times. And yet I do, down to a respectable number 3.

 Ranking:
1. C1
2. A4
3. C4
4. A6
5. B5
6. B3
I love these exercises. We disagreed about nearly everything EXCEPT that A4 was pretty amazing. It is remarkable how we can agree on this one almost the whole way, and then disagree about everything that follows. You put C1 into first! I put it into last! Wowzers!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on July 28, 2012, 12:50:19 AM
I love these exercises. We disagreed about nearly everything EXCEPT that A4 was pretty amazing. It is remarkable how we can agree on this one almost the whole way, and then disagree about everything that follows. You put C1 into first! I put it into last! Wowzers!

Neil. I noticed that!  I have to admit when I first started listening C1 was further down the list, though it was always above the two B's. I even see what you mean by it lacking in "detail and phrasing." I think that my sense of "homogeneous" playing expresses a similar sentiment.
But for me, by the end, C1 was the one that had me standing up in my bathrobe air-conducting. ;D

I agree A4 was pretty amazing. I had placed it second to last in the first round. I'm glad my low ranking didn't keep it from going through to round two.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 29, 2012, 03:13:18 AM
Sorry, Daniel, I'll get to my excerpts either tonight or tomorrow night, been busy at work but I'll get to them.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on July 29, 2012, 07:20:41 AM
Thank you for that vote, Jim - glad you are enjoying it! It certainly is interesting to compare your vote with Neil's! :)

No worries, Greg - those times would be absolutely fine. Still 3 days until the deadline! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 31, 2012, 07:44:44 AM
Thank you for that vote, Jim - glad you are enjoying it! It certainly is interesting to compare your vote with Neil's! :)

No worries, Greg - those times would be absolutely fine. Still 3 days until the deadline! :)

End of the month is increasing work load, my comparisons will be here by tomorrow August 1st by sun down. US eastern time sun down.
Sorry, friends.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 31, 2012, 01:15:01 PM
This (group Y) was difficult, very difficult. The recordings were mostly very close in quality. What I listened out for was the right mixture of spaciousness, intimacy and liveliness. Too much 'outer space', and you lose the intimacy of sound, too 'close-up', and the music tends to get a bit shrill. I haven't looked at the other verdicts, so this is my wholly personal list:


1. C1 (Best balance of space, fire and intimacy)
2. B5
3. A6 (Very spectacular, almost 'glossy')
4. B3
5. C4 (Too close-miked for comfort, but exciting in its own right)
6. A4 (Oldest recording, the orchestra a bit rough)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Carnivorous Sheep on July 31, 2012, 07:05:06 PM
My thoughts listening to Group X was that the excerpts got progressively better!

Rankings:

1. C3
2. C2
3. B4
4. B6
5. A5
6. A2

The C group excerpts were absolutely brilliant to me, a great mix of intensity and control. A2 was downright boring compared to the other contenders, and A5 was only slightly better, further hindered by the poor sound quality.

The B group excerpts had interesting moments, particularly in B4 for me, but were overall, behind the C group in terms of both excitement and enjoyment for me.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 01, 2012, 01:55:05 AM
Just finished listening to the excerpts again, to dispel all doubts; I'll post my comments this evening. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 01, 2012, 02:41:50 AM
Thank you both for your votes!

Ok, Ilaria - looking forward to seeing what you think! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 01, 2012, 03:33:25 AM
C1 - 1
B3 - 2
B5 - 3 
C4 - 4
A6 - 5
A4 - 6


Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 01, 2012, 03:40:00 AM
Thanks, Sarge! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TimH on August 01, 2012, 07:06:30 AM
My thoughts on Group Y:

1st = C1 - Excitement, presence, fine detail, character and dramatic sweep; solo violin - not dragging like others, more virtuosic, well integrated with orchestra; final section bold and romantic. For me best by a long way.

2nd = C4 - Certainly makes an impact, but everything loud and rather monochrome.

3rd = A6 - Orchestra sounds slightly distant, bass lines a bit woolly but fine orchestral detail coming through; solo violin suave, accurate; overall finely crafted, but a bit lightweight.

4th = B3 - Immediate recording with good presence; starts with momentum, forward moving, exciting; however - solo violin very very slow when starting, glissandi very prominent, overall this section too schmalzy, rather brings down the whole performance.

5th = B5 - Sounds a little congested; solo violin very deliberate; nothing stands out as being either great or terrible - unremarkable.

6th = A4 - Muffled distant and distorted sound; very difficult to get involved; solo instruments - half their tone missing; sounds like a Tom and Jerry soundtrack at times! For me worst by a long way.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 01, 2012, 09:39:15 AM
Thank you for your vote!

Does everyone think that they will be able to post their vote within the next 2 and a half hours?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 01, 2012, 12:21:29 PM
I'm finishing to write the last thought; I'll post everything as soon as possible. Can't wait to see the results of the second round! ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 01, 2012, 12:39:31 PM
Thank you for your vote!

Does everyone think that they will be able to post their vote within the next 2 and a half hours?

As I stated earlier, I can finish tonight, but it will be a few more hours before I can get to it :(

If you wait then that's awesome, but I'll understand if you want to move on.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 01, 2012, 12:43:19 PM
No worries, Greg. If you think you can post your vote by the morning (so in approximately 10 hours), that would be absolutely fine! Then, I'll try and post the results and send out the links that evening. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 01, 2012, 12:46:40 PM
No worries, Greg. If you think you can post your vote by the morning (so in approximately 10 hours), that would be absolutely fine! Then, I'll try and post the results and send out the links that evening. :)

Thanks, Daniel!
Sorry again, but once my son goes to bed in a few hours I can crank up the stereo to volume 11 and let the Strauss fly!!!

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 01, 2012, 12:47:05 PM
About Group X:

A2: Brilliant and tense opening, with very harmonic sound of strings and woodwinds; the climaxes are vibrant and thrilling. Very good choices of tempi and dynamics; the orchestral playing is quite powerful, passionate and well-handled. Delightful swinging of the clarinets before the violin solo in the waltz section. Playful waltz in Das Tanzlied, very expressive, elegant and joyous.
A5: Great tension and energy in the opening, with incredibly hauntingly beautiful climaxes; splendid orchestra, all the instruments are balanced. Brilliant rythm, harmony and dynamics; the quality of the recording is not excellent, but the powerful, enthusiastic orchestral playing counterbalances the not crystall sound. Marvelous introduction of clarinets and strings in Das Tanzlied, which is very elegant and passionate, full of vitality; great violin solo in this movement. Energetic and intense final part. This recording impressed me very much, although it is an old one.
B4: The piece starts in a strong and vibrant way and it expresses the right tension; excellent trembling of the violins, same speech for the solos of the strings. Overall all the orchestra is powerful and passionate. The waltz is quite playful and poetical, even if the violin solo at the beginning of Das Tanzlied, despite being rather brilliant and showing a great virtuosity, sometimes seems to give slightly too much enphasis to some notes, extending their lenght and missing the synchrony with  the other instruments.
B6: The opening is rather thrilling and powerful, although it sounds less overwheling than the other recordings; same speech for the harmony. Trumpets sound too shrill at the beginning of Der Genesende. Though lovely dynamics and tempo overall, which give passion and expressive strenght to the piece. Instead in the waltz, the violin sometimes slows down a bit too much during the solo.
C2: Great energy and passion expressed in the opening of Der Genesende, with thrilling and involving climaxes. Again too slow tempo at the beginning of the waltz; the rythm works better when the solo violin (great virtuosity anyway) is supported by the other instruments, and not only by the strings.
C3: Hmm, curious choice of rythm, the piece sometimes shows variations of the speed which give great enphasis and intensity, but at the same time they make the part lack some passion and energy. I appreciated the orchestral playing anyway, powerful, joyous and elegant. Nice harmony and dynamics. Brilliant and expressive waltz in Das Tanzlied.

In order:
A5
A2
B4
C3
C2
B6
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 01, 2012, 12:49:23 PM
I've enjoyed this comparison very much; so glad to listen so much Strauss' waltzes! ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 01, 2012, 12:56:53 PM
I've enjoyed this comparison very much; so glad to listen so much Strauss' waltzes! ;)

Glad to hear that, and I agree, that certainly is a joy! Thank you for your vote. :)

Thanks, Daniel!
Sorry again, but once my son goes to bed in a few hours I can crank up the stereo to volume 11 and let the Strauss fly!!!


No worries! Hope you enjoy it, Greg! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 01, 2012, 05:56:48 PM
The Dance Song is such an interesting part of Zarathustra, such a different vibe then from the earlier excerpts, I chose B3 fairly low in my first comparison, but was completely in awe of this section. C1 just offered the overall package, the build up to the dance created such a wonderful orchestral atmosphere.

C1 - 1st
B3 - 2nd
C4 - 3rd
B5 - 4th
A6 - 5th
A4 - 6th


Thanks for the extra time, Daniel.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 02, 2012, 03:42:05 AM
Thank you for your vote, Greg.

I have now taken the results and shall be revealing them as well as sending out the links for the final part later today. A very interesting, different Top 5 by the way!
Just so you know, the results were taking from an average including both Part 1 and 2.

And also, for the final part, I am hoping to send out the 5 performances of the whole piece for you to compare, is anyone not happy with that? I think you'll have around 2 weeks for it.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 02, 2012, 03:51:09 AM
I think it should work very well, listening to the whole recording is always the better way to judge it.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 02, 2012, 04:07:09 AM
4th = B3 - Immediate recording with good presence; starts with momentum, forward moving, exciting; however - solo violin very very slow when starting, glissandi very prominent, overall this section too schmalzy, rather brings down the whole performance.

"Schmaltzy"...yes, I agree, but that's why I ranked it so high  ;D  It's fascinating to discover the very thing that turns one person off is what excites another.

The Dance Song is such an interesting part of Zarathustra, such a different vibe then from the earlier excerpts, I chose B3 fairly low in my first comparison, but was completely in awe of this section.

I too had B3 ranked low in the first round but I share your feelings about the dance in B3. Loved it. In fact, our votes are nearly identical in this round. I had C4 third too for most of my listening but made a last minute change to B5 because C4 began to wear on my ears. Love the detail but it's not a "comfortable" recording.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 02, 2012, 06:00:44 AM
Result for Part 2! :D

12. A2 Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Lorin Maazel (RCA/1995)
Much liked in the first part, being described as compelling, although perhaps a little pompous, but voters in the second part found this performance not thrilling enough.



11. A6 Boston Symphony Orchestra/William Steinberg (DG/1971)
Described as a spectacular performance by some, although others thought it lacked character. In the second part, voters felt the tempi were a little too rushed.



10. A4 Westdeutscher Rundfunk Orchester/Dmitri Mitropoulos (Virtuoso/1959)
A particular favourite of mine, I was hoping it would get through! I was glad to see that many people loved this recording too, some even giving it first place. They (and I) found this performance to be incredibly involving, exciting and brilliant. Others were put off by the obvious dated sound. To those who did enjoy it, I discovered it can be purchased from amazon.com MP for less than $1 (plus postage), I'll certainly be getting it! 
(http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/9666/mitropoulosstraussasz.jpg)

09. B3 Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich/David Zinman (Arte Nova/2001)
Some found this performance underwhelming,simply calling it pleasant. However, others enjoyed it very much, calling it exciting and forward moving.



08. C4 Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Boulez (DG/1999)
Everyone believed that this recording was incredibly exciting, but began to tire of it after multiple listenings for the consistent level of high intensity throughout the performance. At places, voters found the performance simply too relentless.



07. B6 Philharmonia/Semyon Bychkov (Phillips/1990)
I'm sure everyone must have been pretty impressed by that timpani playing....  ;D Incredibly popular in the first round, coming first in the B Group by recieving 80% of it's possible votes, voters were less excited in the second round, claiming the performance was slightly dull, and lacking in drama or direction.
(http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/7082/bychkovstrauss.jpg)

06. B5 London Philharmonic/Klaus Tennstedt (EMI/1990)
Failing to excite some, others felt that this was an incredibly strong performance, with very little to fault. This recording did particularly well in the first part, voters praised the good balance of intensity.



What do you think? :D

The Final 5 is very interesting indeed, I shall send out the links for all 5 of the complete performances later today. Hope you are enjoying it all! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 02, 2012, 06:19:29 AM
What strikes me personally is that I have been very positive about Tennstedt, again...
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 02, 2012, 06:24:59 AM
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich/David Zinman (Arte Nova/2001)
However, others enjoyed it very much, calling it exciting and forward moving

...and schmaltzy... don't forget schmaltzy  ;D

I'm shocked. Would not have guessed Zinman.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 02, 2012, 06:29:25 AM
What strikes me personally is that I have been very positive about Tennstedt, again...

Me too. I have to start paying more attention to him.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on August 02, 2012, 06:45:03 AM
What strikes me personally is that I have been very positive about Tennstedt, again...

I loved him in the Mahler, not quite so much in the Strauss. But I see the recording includes Lucia Popp in the Four Last Songs. I like Popp a lot and didn't even know she had a recording of the songs. Makes it tempting.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 02, 2012, 07:04:45 AM
Interesting results! Both the Zinman and the Tennstedt were in my group in the first round, I remember I really appreciated them; glad they have scored highly enough. I'm even happier to see Karajan's recording has passed to the final round! ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on August 02, 2012, 07:14:57 AM
By the way, in the first round I said I thought C4 sounded like it might be Solti. In the second round I thought it even more. Turns out it was Boulez.
Same orchestra, though.
But I need to keep my thoughts to myself.
So I'm just going to shut up about C2.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on August 02, 2012, 07:49:32 AM
In the first round I guessed that A4 was a mountaineer i.e. Mitropoulos. I didn't know this recording by him, but I have the live with the Concertgebouw on Orfeo. I still like A4 best of those I have heard so far, so there! followed  or even equalled by C2. Call me an old-fashioned guy. I hope the final five don't have letters, so we can listen free of prejudice.
I know 2 recordings of 4 LL by Popp, Zauberflöte, a late one with MTT, rather tremulous and not to my taste, and that with Tennstedt, which several people urged me to hear: I disliked it, especially for Tennstedt's conducting. I have heard very little by Tennstedt, but I didn't like it and have investigated no further.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 02, 2012, 08:19:08 AM
I know Tennstedt's reputation for being over-emotional, which is why I always avoided him during the past 30-odd years... His Mahler 6 and Strauss ASZ do convince me, though.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 02, 2012, 09:07:41 AM
Great to read your responses, especially wonderful to read of how surprised some of you are with some of the recordings! :D

Just putting together the links for the final now, will hopefully be able to send them out this evening. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 02, 2012, 12:58:22 PM
Ok - all links have now been sent out. Any problems, please let me know. :)

First voting deadline shall be the 18th August. Happy Voting everyone! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Carnivorous Sheep on August 02, 2012, 10:30:31 PM
I've always been a big Tennstedt fan, I think his reputation turns a lot of people off of him, but he truly does some marvelous work.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 02, 2012, 10:54:05 PM
What do you think? :D

My top three choices are out from round 2! Which means my tastes differ significantly from most of the rest of you. I loved A4 in both rounds - as I wrote, every note seems to have purpose. I think ranking it lower on sound is a mistake in a comparison like this.

And knocking out B5 was disappointing. I liked it in both rounds. Interesting how I liked the Schumann 4 and now this. Tennstedt is a composer I don't usually pay much attention to, but I guess I should. I assume this is also the same version in the Tennstedt box on EMI (the one with 14 discs)?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 03, 2012, 02:14:17 AM
I think ranking it lower on sound is a mistake in a comparison like this.

I don't agree. We're trying to find the best recording and that includes orchestral performance, interpretation and sound. In the comments many mention the sound of the recordings they're judging so I'm obviously not alone here. It's not only historical recordings that suffer. Modern recordings like Boulez's get knocked down too for faulty sonics. I think that's valid. Of course I wouldn't rate a great performance of a work with poor sound lower than a bad performance with great sound, but in the case of Mitropoulos, I really didn't like his interpretation and there were performance aspects about it that bothered me too. So it wasn't just the sound that turned me off.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 03, 2012, 02:34:05 AM
I don't agree. We're trying to find the best recording and that includes orchestral performance, interpretation and sound.
Sarge
Perhaps I'm quibbling, but I am looking for the best interpretation, not recording. If I were looking for the best recording, I would indeed knock down A4 to one of the last, because of sound alone (and the Boulez even more so). But I don't view that as the purpose of this exercise. On the other hand, I understand how difficult it can be to evaluate as poor sound makes it harder to appreciate the interpretation, a catch 22 of sorts.  Our different approach helps explain the difference in some results.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 03, 2012, 02:50:31 AM
My few cents - I listen out for the best interpretation, too, but in the best combination with the recorded sound. Why? I simply ask myself - if I could only have one recording-cum-performance, which one is so good that it will not start to irritate and disappoint me at some moment in the future?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 03, 2012, 09:08:22 AM
My top three choices are out from round 2! Which means my tastes differ significantly from most of the rest of you. I loved A4 in both rounds - as I wrote, every note seems to have purpose. I think ranking it lower on sound is a mistake in a comparison like this.

And knocking out B5 was disappointing. I liked it in both rounds. Interesting how I liked the Schumann 4 and now this. Tennstedt is a conductor I don't usually pay much attention to, but I guess I should. I assume this is also the same version in the Tennstedt box on EMI (the one with 14 discs)?
Yes, I believe so. I think he only recorded it once....
I too have been impressed with Tennstedt in these comparisons. Makes me very excited to dive into the Tennstedt Mahler box I have awaiting me on my listening pile!

The importance of sound quality certainly is an interesting debate. Dated sound normally doesn't bother me too much at all, especially when I enjoy the interpretation as much as I did for Mitropoulos. And the old recordings are so fascinating to hear too!

Will be interested to read what you all think of C2 in the final, considering this debate! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: trung224 on August 03, 2012, 02:17:42 PM
Yes, I believe so. I think he only recorded it once....
I too have been impressed with Tennstedt in these comparisons. Makes me very excited to dive into the Tennstedt Mahler box I have awaiting me on my listening pile!

The importance of sound quality certainly is an interesting debate. Dated sound normally doesn't bother me too much at all, especially when I enjoy the interpretation as much as I did for Mitropoulos. And the old recordings are so fascinating to hear too!

Will be interested to read what you all think of C2 in the final, considering this debate! :)

     Personally I found Tennstedt usually felt exhibited in studio, so I stay away from him for the long time. But  the magnificent Mahler 5 live on EMI and especially the spiritual , if not legendary performance Mahler 2 on LPO Live label changed my mind completed. If you want to know Tennstedt, stay away from the EMI set (except the live Mahler 5) and go to the live recording Dvorak 8,9 on Testament, Mahler 1,2,6, Bruckner 4,7,8 and Beethoven 9 from LPO live, Prokofiev 5,7 from Profil, many recordings from BBC legends. These CD is somewhat expansive but worth the price.
   I find nothing special about this Tennstedt' Also Sprach Zarathustra and Schumann 4 (many GMGerlike) on EMI, but I hope LPO live or Testament can release this live performance (which I think must be  great)
   The Mitropoulos performance is very intense and imaginative, but the best sound on Mediciarts label (who access the original tape on German Radio)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on August 09, 2012, 05:12:50 PM
Well, I'm ready.
This was a great way to listen, spending time dissecting particular passages for the first two rounds and then feeling the entire sweep for the finals.
I doubt that will be possible or even desirable by the time we get to the Mahler Third, but it works nicely here in a piece that isn't overly long.

These were relatively quick decisions for me; all the performances were unique so my favorites revealed themselves pretty early.

A5 is nicely balanced throughout but here the sonics just aren't up to snuff. And while that doesn't matter in a case like the infectious but even worse-sounding C2, it matters here because the performance itself, though excellent, isn't as much fun. But it's still extremely persuasive and I suspect this is a classic recording, Reiner, perhaps, or the early Karajan. I'm happy to place it in my top five of all we've listened to.

Why didn't B4 work for me? It did in sections in the earlier listening but not as a whole and I was surprised a quality recording like this ended up dead last for me.  It was easily the most fascinating, an exciting, sonic spectacular. I couldn't really figure out why it wasn't moving me. Then it dawned on me. It's too brightly lit. While I normally love hearing individual voices, this time it sounded like individual egos shouting out to be heard and not a cohesive whole. Though in many ways it was wonderful I don't know if it was the conductor, the orchestra or the recording engineer performing the wonders. It almost sounded as if each individual instrument had been recorded solo in a sound room, then the engineer took all the single tapes, put them on 100 or so separate tracks and fashioned a single performance out of them.

C1 had already grown to become my favorite and nothing changed upon listening to the whole piece. A beautiful whole, a stunning orchestra. Sweeping. If this isn't considered a classic performance it should be. Extraordinary forward momentum with every shade of orchestral color and character one could hope for. None of the others really came close.
I didn't even listen to it much, once at the beginning and then once again at the end to be sure I had it right. Great performance.

C2, Still so much fun. It can't really displace the top two but it's such a happy performance, if not one storming the heights or pondering the depths.

C3 Lovely harp, loved the basses really digging in with the cellos in the Science and Learning section. Individual moments stunning, but the whole worked, too. I didn't realize this was turning into my second favorite but none of the others could top it.

Results:

1. C1
2. C3
3. C2
4. A5
5. B4
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 11, 2012, 12:29:22 PM
Thank you for your vote, Jim! Very interesting comments, I always enjoy reading them.
I doubt that will be possible or even desirable by the time we get to the Mahler Third, but it works nicely here in a piece that isn't overly long.

I'm leaving that one, along with no.9, to the very last  ;D Still thinking about how to do the comparisons for those gigantic works.... will take a lot of thought! At the moment, I am thinking of some more pieces to compare inbetween the Mahler symphonies and know which one I'll set up next (After M1). Very excited about that one already... :D

Think it's about a week left for everyone to vote, if you need more time, please let me know! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: classicalgeek on August 13, 2012, 04:02:15 PM
My apologies, I've missed the first couple of rounds of listening and voting.  Two weeks of vacation in July and a busy work schedule will do that!  I will do my very best to listen to the finalists and vote on them, though.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 14, 2012, 02:34:17 AM
My apologies, I've missed the first couple of rounds of listening and voting.  Two weeks of vacation in July and a busy work schedule will do that!  I will do my very best to listen to the finalists and vote on them, though.

Don't worry :) The voting deadline for this final part is in 4 days (on the 18th at 10.00 pm) but if you, or anyone, needs extra time, just let me know! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on August 15, 2012, 02:59:03 AM
Don't worry :) The voting deadline for this final part is in 4 days (on the 18th at 10.00 pm) but if you, or anyone, needs extra time, just let me know! :)
I'm afraid I shall not make this deadline - I have become listless and have not succeeded in listening to more than half of two of these recordings.
I might get back to it next week - this week we are preparing to move elsewhere for a couple of months - but don't count on me. Sorry about this, but at the moment the music bores me stiff.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 16, 2012, 09:11:32 AM
Don't worry :) The voting deadline for this final part is in 4 days (on the 18th at 10.00 pm) but if you, or anyone, needs extra time, just let me know! :)
Unfortunately, I have not had a large enough block of time to myself to listen. I will try to make the deadline, but the extra day Sunday would help.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 16, 2012, 10:05:03 AM
Unfortunately, I have not had a large enough block of time to myself to listen. I will try to make the deadline, but the extra day Sunday would help.

No worries - if you need the extra Sunday, you can have it! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 16, 2012, 10:35:59 AM
When does the complete Ring Cycle blind comparison begin?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 16, 2012, 10:39:17 AM
When does the complete Ring Cycle blind comparison begin?
The real question is:When does it end!?!? :)
No worries - if you need the extra Sunday, you can have it! :)
THanks!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 16, 2012, 10:39:48 AM
When does the complete Ring Cycle blind comparison begin?

 :D

Haha, I would certainly take part in that comparison!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 16, 2012, 10:56:43 AM
When does the complete Ring Cycle blind comparison begin?
The real question is:When does it end!?!? :) THanks!
:D

Haha, I would certainly take part in that comparison!

 :o   ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: DavidRoss on August 16, 2012, 11:29:42 AM
So what remains? Previn? Reiner? Ormandy? One of Mehta's? Knowing Daniel, at least one Karajan!

Though I don't like the piece enough to hear so much of it, I do look forward to seeing what y'all end up with (not Sinopoli, apparently!).
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 17, 2012, 04:54:33 AM
So what remains? Previn? Reiner? Ormandy? One of Mehta's? Knowing Daniel, at least one Karajan!

Though I don't like the piece enough to hear so much of it, I do look forward to seeing what y'all end up with (not Sinopoli, apparently!).

All will be revealed in a few days! ;) I'll be setting up the Mahler 1 comparison in around a week, by the way, David. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 17, 2012, 05:02:43 AM
I have been awfully silent and absent, and for a reason - these past few weeks have been absurdly busy and I have a story to complete (the deadline has been extended a few days). I am afraid I'll find the quiet nor the time to participate in this final round, which is a shame. Reluctantly, I have to bow out. Sorry.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 17, 2012, 05:04:51 AM
I have been awfully silent and absent, and for a reason - these past few weeks have been absurdly busy and I have a story to complete (the deadline has been extended a few days). I am afraid I'll find the quiet nor the time to participate in this final round, which is a shame. Reluctantly, I have to bow out. Sorry.

Don't worry, Johan - hope the story goes well and that we'll be able to see you for the Mahler 1 comparison! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 17, 2012, 05:06:11 AM
Thanks! Yes, I'll be ready and present for the Mahler First.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: DavidRoss on August 17, 2012, 05:31:15 AM
All will be revealed in a few days! ;) I'll be setting up the Mahler 1 comparison in around a week, by the way, David. :)
I look forward to it, Daniel. With so many terrific recordings available, it should be both informative and pleasurable. The larger my collection grows and the more familiar I become with various performances, the more I find to admire about most of them. Off the top of my head I can think of more than half a dozen that are all equally wonderful to my ears. Poor Sarge must be paralyzed by the prospect of choosing among the discs spilling from his shelves!

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 17, 2012, 05:34:44 AM
I look forward to it, Daniel. With so many terrific recordings available, it should be both informative and pleasurable. The larger my collection grows and the more familiar I become with various performances, the more I find to admire about most of them. Off the top of my head I can think of more than half a dozen that are all equally wonderful to my ears. Poor Sarge must be paralyzed by the prospect of choosing among the discs spilling from his shelves!

Glad you are looking forward to it, David, I am too! There certainly are many many great recordings available, I am very much enjoying listening to the 25 or so I have chosen for the comparison! Ranging from the old classics to the most recent. :) I think it's going to be a great comparison project! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 17, 2012, 05:52:10 AM
I look forward to it, Daniel. With so many terrific recordings available, it should be both informative and pleasurable. The larger my collection grows and the more familiar I become with various performances, the more I find to admire about most of them. Off the top of my head I can think of more than half a dozen that are all equally wonderful to my ears. Poor Sarge must be paralyzed by the prospect of choosing among the discs spilling from his shelves!


I'm actually very excited to listen to Mahler 1 as it is a symphony that I has never really inspired me. So I will find out once and for all if it is a work that I just don't love or if I just haven't found the right recording. It's now or never!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 17, 2012, 05:54:04 AM
I'm actually very excited to listen to Mahler 1 as it is a symphony that I has never really inspired me. So I will find out once and for all if it is a work that I just don't love or if I just haven't found the right recording. It's now or never!

I do hope you will enjoy it, and that some of the great recordings will inspire you! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: DavidRoss on August 17, 2012, 06:19:27 AM
I'm actually very excited to listen to Mahler 1 as it is a symphony that I has never really inspired me. So I will find out once and for all if it is a work that I just don't love or if I just haven't found the right recording. It's now or never!
Let it be now!

Hard to believe it's never inspired you. Have you heard Walter, Barbirolli, Boulez, Bernstein, MTT, Gielen, Honeck, Kubelik, Sinopoli, or Suitner, just to name a few good ones?

Try this as a tuneup and to acquaint you with the entire work before the showdown!

http://www.youtube.com/v/cQFjDBFXN58&feature=related
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 17, 2012, 06:25:45 AM
Let it be now!

Hard to believe it's never inspired you. Have you heard Walter, Barbirolli, Boulez, Bernstein, MTT, Gielen, Honeck, Kubelik, Sinopoli, or Suitner, just to name a few good ones?
I've got Abbado (CSO), Kubelik x2 (I had the DG, but the sound is lousy, so I got the Audite), Bertini (I must admit I don't remember this one), Steinberg (as part of the ICON box, but have not listened yet), and Horenstein (a Berkshire impulse buy). I have more of Mahler 1 than any other Mahler symphony (though admittedly, there are plenty more out there).
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 18, 2012, 05:43:23 AM
With a bit of a push, I managed to get this in under the original deadline, but ironically, pushing the deadline off made me feel like I wasn't being rushed to finish. :)

Final: Also Sprach Zarathustra
Diving right in, I’d order them as C3, A5, C2, C1, B4. Each of the top three had something to offer, but ultimately I liked C3 best.

My Rankings

A5: Effective and impressive start. I notice this time a few intonation issues as I am listening on my better headphones (though it could be a recording issue as well), and the organ does stand out. But overall, a good start. There are some lovely lyrical sections in this version with some beautiful details. The dance section is attractive, though not as interesting as some.  I think the beginning sections move from strength to strength, keeping it dark and mysterious for large stretches. The highs throughout are very exciting.  Ranking: 2
B4: Opening less dark and interesting than A5, but still decent. Plods a bit. The balance and sound seem off to me. There are some effective moments, but overall, this is a bit of a dud for me.  Nothing set my soul on fire here. Ranking: 5
C1: Dull start and sloppy (and so many details missed). Beautiful violin entrance though. In fact, strings throughout are a strength, and create such a gorgeous sound. Overall though, it has a certain sameness and static feel pretty much throughout. There is lack of phrasing and differentiation. There is also a certain coldness to it. The dance section has a very light touch (nice). Recorded sound is good.  Ranking: 4
C2: Start is ok. What I love about this version is how I hear all the different instruments and the different layers of sound. It creates a richness that many of the others lack, despite being in worse sound. This one has plenty of transparency. And I like the level of detail. Dance works well, if a bit over the top.  Ranking: 3
C3: Good (though not perfect) start (drums could be fiercer, for example), but liked overall balance and impact. Has beautiful sounds, a bit more angst, but still retaining enough detail and transparency.  Very well put together.   Ranking: 1

Thanks for all your work on putting this together!!!!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 18, 2012, 05:48:46 AM
I'll have my final results in tomorrow.  ;D


And then everyone can get to the Mahler 1 comparison that seems to be so eagerly anticipated.  ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 18, 2012, 05:50:49 AM
Great, thanks Neal! Very interesting! :) And it's an absolutely pleasure, very enjoyable for me too! :)

I'll have my final results in tomorrow.  ;D

And then everyone can get to the Mahler 1 comparison that seems to be so eagerly anticipated.  ;)

Ok, Greg, look forward to seeing them! Will you be joining us for the M1 comparison too? :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 18, 2012, 06:26:16 AM
I'll have my final results in tomorrow.  ;D

Me too. Mrs. Rock has kept me busy today but I'll have time this evening and tomorrow morning to listen.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 18, 2012, 06:44:43 AM
Me too. Mrs. Rock has kept me busy today but I'll have time this evening and tomorrow morning to listen.

Sarge

Ok, thank you for letting me know, Sarge - looking forward to reading what you think! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 18, 2012, 07:58:57 AM
Ok, Greg, look forward to seeing them! Will you be joining us for the M1 comparison too? :)

Most likely not for M1...would seriously consider if it was M7, that would be a fun comparison  ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 18, 2012, 08:06:37 AM
Most likely not for M1...would seriously consider if it was M7, that would be a fun comparison  ;)
Ok, well, we'll get to M7 eventually ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 18, 2012, 06:57:36 PM
I will begin by saying, well done to Daniel, superb job my friend.  :) 8) :) 8)

And secondly, I would like to add that I believe Sinopoli/NYP recording is better than three of the finalists. I realize it might be a moot point, but oh well.  ;D

Of the final 5 I was only able to recognize one of them, in fact is was in my original grouping, nice to see it in the finals, and it made my top 2. That one being B4, it has a kinetic energy throughout, keeps you on the edge with brisk tempi and phenomenal playing. Unfortunately, I've always found it to truly lack in one area, emotion. Sad to say that one of my favorite recordings (still not better than Sinopoli though) is being placed on a lower podium by my top choice in the finals...C3. Ignore the opening minutes (my 3-year old can play timpani louder than that) and you have one of the most well-structured Zarathustra performances, gorgeous strings, excellent engineering and a conductor that really knew when to cool down and heat up. I have a really good feeling I know who this is performing, and if I'm right, I won't be surprised.  ;D

1. C3
2. B4
3. C1
4. C2
5. A5
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 18, 2012, 06:59:40 PM
I promised to not look at others results before I posted...

Interesting how Neal and I split on everything...except our top choice.  ;D

And a similar result with Jim's final results.  ;D

So interesting to see this to the end.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 18, 2012, 09:56:20 PM
I promised to not look at others results before I posted...

Interesting how Neal and I split on everything...except our top choice.  ;D

And a similar result with Jim's final results.  ;D

So interesting to see this to the end.
For me, I think part of it has to do with the weighting. I like the dance section, but that will never be a make or break part of my choice. Rather, the opening theme and its repeat later and some other bits are more important to my decision making. Thus, the second round excerpts played a relatively small role in deciding my ranking. Others, however, may have made other weightings and placed importance on other things. In this grouping, there was no one version that played all the bits just right, which is part of what made it hard. If a fierce opening was preferred, for example, well C3 was not the best choice. The drums, as we both noted, are quite tame. But I felt that none of the openings was exactly what I liked (though some of those earlier eliminated were better). So for me, I would go through all the best openings (along with a few other select moments, one of which was the clip picked in the first round) and put those in the final. C3 was still tops in other areas, so it would have made it through despite a less than perfect opening, but I don't know that the ultimate choice for me would have changed.

What we did was no less valid, and it was only by going through it that I realized I was weighting one part less. You/others may have a different approach, one that is not less valid (and I am not complaining - the process is helpful for understanding). But the same thing happened in Mahler if you remember - because of the excerpt selected at the start, some famous (and excellent) versions were dropped. Change the order of the excerpts and the final results might be different, but then again, maybe not. In any case, I still found the whole process enjoyable.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 19, 2012, 02:07:42 AM
Where are the files?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 19, 2012, 02:44:34 AM
C3 The Sunrise is unimpressive, almost lame: weak drums and the organ sounds strange when the orchestra cuts out at the end leaving it exposed. As though embarrassed to find itself suddenly alone, it abruptly stops playing after less than two seconds and runs away. Pitiful  But things improve after that. There's a nice sense of mystery and danger in Hinterweltlern. Great horns and trombones in Joys and Passions; quite thrilling (I'm tempted to give it first place just for this detail alone). Tanzlied was remarkably gentle and delicate. Nice. I prefer a slower start to the Convalescent section, though (at this speed some detail gets lost, like a few muted trumpet interjections that can be heard vividly in the Sinopoli recording). But overall I love the detail in this recording. Most everything can heard without sounding spotlit. With that poor Introduction, I really hate to give this the Gold Medal but the rest of the performance makes up for it.

B4 Convalescent too fast, even hectic. In fact, other than the Sunrise, which I liked here, the entire piece felt rushed. Undoubtedly exciting but rather exhausting. It seems like a Solti kind of performance. (Not a guess, just a description.) But overall, this had fewer negatives than C1 and I prefer, slightly, the sonics.

C1 Sonically, and interpretively for my taste, this has the most impressive sunrise. But, compared to C3, I thought Hinterweltlern was on the dull side with little sense of mystery and the horns go completely missing in Joys and Passions. A fatal flaw. But the convalescent section rocked! And I still love the Tanzlied here.

C2 This is a weird recording. It's very poor sonically until after the climax in Convalescent, Until then it's murky with unappealing, whiny string sound; brass is buried in Joys and Passions (and there is nothing joyful sounding here). Science and Learning plods.The contrapuntal strands in Convalescent can't be heard clearly, and the climax, with the reprise of the Sunrise motif, lacks excitement and power. The sound suddenly seems to improve after that though, as did the interpretation. The second half of Convalescent is fun and actually sounds pretty good. The Tanzlied goes the way I like to hear it: schmaltzy. Based on the first half of the piece, I don't know how this made it beyond the first round but the second half I enjoy very much.

A5 Loved this performance (other than the too short organ chord) but not enough to overcome the vintage sound and sonic deficiencies (this must be an LP transfer, including clicks and pops). The dance is interesting; not the way I like to hear it but a fascinating alternative: light and fast...not a dance for humans but a fairy dance? I'd consider buying this if it's available on CD (with improved sound).

1 - C3
2 - B4
3 - C1
4 - C2
5 - A5


Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 19, 2012, 02:50:32 AM
C3 The Sunrise is unimpressive, almost lame: weak drums and the organ sounds strange when the orchestra cuts out at the end leaving it exposed. As though embarrassed to find itself suddenly alone, it abruptly stops playing after less than two seconds and runs away. Pitiful  But things improve after that. There's a nice sense of mystery and danger in Hinterweltlern. Great horns and trombones in Joys and Passions; quite thrilling (I'm tempted to give it first place just for this detail alone). Tanzlied was remarkably gentle and delicate. Nice. I prefer a slower start to the Convalescent section, though (at this speed some detail gets lost, like a few muted trumpet interjections that can be heard vividly in the Sinopoli recording). But overall I love the detail in this recording. Most everything can heard without sounding spotlit. With that poor Introduction, I really hate to give this the Gold Medal but the rest of the performance makes up for it.

B4 Convalescent too fast, even hectic. In fact, other than the Sunrise, which I liked here, the the entire piece felt rushed. Undoubtedly exciting but rather exhausting. It seems like a Solti kind of performance. (Not a guess, just a description.) But overall, this had fewer negatives than C1 and I prefer, slightly, the sonics.

C1 Sonically, and interpretively for my taste, this has the most impressive sunrise. But, compared to C3, I thought Hinterweltlern was on the dull side with little sense of mystery and the horns go completely missing in Joys and Passions. A fatal flaw. But the convalescent section rocked! And I still love the Tanzlied here.

C2 This is a weird recording. It's very poor sonically until after the climax in Convascent, Until then it's murky with unappealing, whiny string sound; brass is buried in Joys and Passions (and there is nothing joyful sounding here). Science and Learning plods.The contrapuntal strands in Convalescent can't be heard clearly, and the climax, with the reprise of the Sunrise motif, lacks excitement and power. The sound suddenly seems to improve after that though, as did the interpretation. The second half of Convalescent is fun and actually sounds pretty good. The Tanzlied goes the way I like to hear it. Based on the first half of the piece, I don't know how this made it beyond the first round but the second half I enjoy very much.

A5 Loved this performance (other than the too short organ chord) but not enough to overcome the vintage sound and sonic deficiencies (this must be an LP transfer, including clicks and pops). The dance is interesting; not the way I like to hear it but a fascinating alternative: light and fast...not a dance for humans but a fairy dance? I'd consider buying this if it's available on CD (with improved sound).
1 - C3
2 - B4
3 - C1
4 - C2
5 - A5
Sarge

Sarge is quoted because his post is active on the subject, unlike the following, which is lame....
How have I missed this?  It is intolerable!  Where are the files?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 19, 2012, 02:51:40 AM
For me, I think part of it has to do with the weighting. I like the dance section, but that will never be a make or break part of my choice. Rather, the opening theme and its repeat later and some other bits are more important to my decision making. Thus, the second round excerpts played a relatively small role in deciding my ranking. Others, however, may have made other weightings and placed importance on other things. In this grouping, there was no one version that played all the bits just right, which is part of what made it hard. If a fierce opening was preferred, for example, well C3 was not the best choice. The drums, as we both noted, are quite tame. But I felt that none of the openings was exactly what I liked (though some of those earlier eliminated were better). So for me, I would go through all the best openings (along with a few other select moments, one of which was the clip picked in the first round) and put those in the final. C3 was still tops in other areas, so it would have made it through despite a less than perfect opening, but I don't know that the ultimate choice for me would have changed.

What we did was no less valid, and it was only by going through it that I realized I was weighting one part less. You/others may have a different approach, one that is not less valid (and I am not complaining - the process is helpful for understanding). But the same thing happened in Mahler if you remember - because of the excerpt selected at the start, some famous (and excellent) versions were dropped. Change the order of the excerpts and the final results might be different, but then again, maybe not. In any case, I still found the whole process enjoyable.


Yes, sir. Highly enjoyable.  ;D
A good example is Zinman's recording, I think Sarge and I were close on this also, but Zinman got low marks for the opening but then high marks for the "Dance" section.

As much as I praise Sinopoli, and it came in last, another one I praise, and I even loaned the piece to Daniel so it could be added to the lineup, was Blomstedt/SFO...and it came in next to last!  :o
I guess I need to hone up on my Zarathustra skills.


Sarge is quoted because his post is active on the subject, unlike the following, which is lame....
How have I missed this?  It is intolerable!  Where are the files?


PM from Daniel.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 19, 2012, 02:52:45 AM
I think we have a clear cut winner.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 19, 2012, 02:53:45 AM
Sarge is quoted because his post is active on the subject, unlike the following, which is lame....
How have I missed this?  It is intolerable!  Where are the files?

I'll PM you the links, John.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 19, 2012, 02:57:34 AM
Sarge and I have the same order  ;D.  and as I said before, I know who B4 is  ;)  ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 19, 2012, 03:01:55 AM
Sarge and I have the same order  ;D.  and as I said before, I know who B4 is  ;)  ;)

Yeah, we're usually close in our likes and dislikes. I originally had C1 second, but I did a quick re-listen and discovered B4 had grown on me. I'll visit my doctor tomorrow to see if it poses any danger  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 03:22:09 AM
Thank you Greg and Sarge for your votes, very interesting comments! And, my pleasure, really a joy to organize! :)

And thanks, Sarge, for sending John the links. I'll send you a PM now, John. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 19, 2012, 05:47:42 AM
I'm deeply sorry I couldn't write my thoughts this morning, I'll post them now!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 19, 2012, 07:01:56 AM
I enjoyed this comparison very much, I'm looking forward to knowing the results! ;D

A5: Absolutely thrilling, hauntingly beautiful interpretation. The conductor perfectly keeps the control of the orchestra, whose playing is incredibly passionate, powerful and expressive, and even makes up for the rather poor sound quality. Impressive, involving climaxes overall, especially at the end of "Von den grossen Sehnsucht"; the strings, at the peak of tension, are splendid in "Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften"; tense, mysterious atmosphere also wonderfully expressed in the first part of "Der Genesende"; absolutely outstanding second part, very vibrant, energetic and thrilling. Elegant, harmonic introduction of woodwinds and strings in "Das Tanzlied"; excellent solo of violin. I also loved the intensity and the explosive force of the final part.
B4: Well, remarkable recording. The piece is performed with the right passion and expressive strenght, while the orchestral playing is brilliant and powerful, with a good, clear sound and moving, strong climaxes. I didn't like the timpani in the introduction, too dull. The choice of tempo is maybe the weakest point, there are sometimes little variations of rythm which becomes slightly too fast, and with too hasty entrances. Nice waltz in "Das Tanzlied".
C1: Same speech of A5, absolutely stunning, impressive performance, which, unlike the other one, showed a much better sound quality. Instead the sound of the tubular bells was a bit too clang.
C2: A bit too weak blows of timpani in the introduction; neither the orchestra nor dynamics  sometimes sounded very well-balanced, although the orchestral playing was rather brilliant, passionate and intense. The beginning of the waltz was slightly too slow and lacked some vitality.
C3: Brilliant, enjoyable perfomance. Very good choice of tempo and phrasing; excellent dynamics as well. The orchestral playing is very intense, expressive and well-handled, I particularly appreciated the atmosphere created in “Von der Wissenschaft” and “Der Genesende”, very involving powerfully emotional. Gorgeous, moving climaxes.

In order:
A5
C1
C3
B4
C2
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 07:12:45 AM
Thank you very much for your vote, Ilaria! Enjoyed reading your comments very much, very interesting! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 19, 2012, 07:13:46 AM
I enjoyed this comparison very much, I'm looking forward to knowing the results! ;D
A5: Absolutely thrilling, hauntingly beautiful interpretation. The conductor perfectly keeps the control of the orchestra, whose playing is incredibly passionate, powerful and expressive, and even makes up for the rather poor sound quality. Impressive, involving climaxes overall, especially at the end of "Von den grossen Sehnsucht"; the strings, at the peak of tension, are splendid in "Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften"; tense, mysterious atmosphere also wonderfully expressed in the first part of "Der Genesende"; absolutely outstanding second part, very vibrant, energetic and thrilling. Elegant, harmonic introduction of woodwinds and strings in "Das Tanzlied"; excellent solo of violin. I also loved the intensity and the explosive force of the final part.
B4: Well, remarkable recording. The piece is performed with the right passion and expressive strenght, while the orchestral playing is brilliant and powerful, with a good, clear sound and moving, strong climaxes. I didn't like the timpani in the introduction, too dull. The choice of tempo is maybe the weakest point, there are sometimes little variations of rythm which becomes slightly too fast, and with too hasty entrances. Nice waltz in "Das Tanzlied".
C1: Same speech of A5, absolutely stunning, impressive performance, which, unlike the other one, showed a much better sound quality. Instead the sound of the tubular bells was a bit too clang.
C2: A bit too weak blows of timpani in the introduction; neither the orchestra nor dynamics  sometimes sounded very well-balanced, although the orchestral playing was rather brilliant, passionate and intense. The beginning of the waltz was slightly too slow and lacked some vitality.
C3: Brilliant, enjoyable perfomance. Very good choice of tempo and phrasing; excellent dynamics as well. The orchestral playing is very intense, expressive and well-handled, I particularly appreciated the atmosphere created in “Von der Wissenschaft” and “Der Genesende”, very involving powerfully emotional. Gorgeous, moving climaxes.
In order:
A5
C1
C3
B4
C2

We are on the same wavelegnth.  Here are my somewhat shoreted conclusions...
A5  I have a feeling that this one would be knockout if the sound was not so old.  If this could be played as it is NOW, it would beat everything.  Unfortunately though, in its current state, I cannot come to terms with it.  But the playing is lyrical and complete.  This is a BRILLIANT take, hard to gauge with sound quality.

B4  The opening is big and bold.  Lots of contrasts between intruments playing the lower end of the scale.  It is as grand as can be, very nice interplays going on with woodwind and strings...everything is played beautifully, with depth, but it lacks the PROFUNDITY of the musical poems subject.

C1  Yeah baby!  Now we're talkin'!  Poetic and beuatiful portrayed in all the right places.  I love the violins and their combinations.  I am on a superman journey.  This is a tone poem...tone is everything in this.  Deep and beautiful.

C2  No baby!  This is not my kind of thing.  Again, perhaps an old recording, which may interfere with my four sentence review here.  The playing is fine, some nice touches.  I wonder how many rehearsals were done...it lacks gravitas in build-ups and for whatever reason does not excite me. 

C3  This is the 'darkest' one.  Nice emphasis on some of the downbeats.  Out of it comes the light.

Of them all, A5 and C1 get my provisional vote...I will go with C1.  A5 despite its acoustic shortcomings, has everything I like in the piece, and then some.  But C1 has an audible MYSTERY in it, uncertainty, light and life.  It is not a hands down win - I wish A5 was better remastered, we would hear its magic better and it would win hands down.

For the record, my favourite Strauss Zarathustra is Ferdinand Lietner with the SWR Symphony Orchestra (recorded 1976 I think.)  If that is one of the 5 I have listened to, I'm in trouble...

C1, A5 (so close), B4, C3, C2.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 07:36:38 AM
Thank you very much for your vote, John. Very impressed you got your vote in after only one day of having the files! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 19, 2012, 07:38:01 AM
We are on the same wavelegnth.

;)
Title: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 19, 2012, 08:24:32 AM
(http://img.tapatalk.com/a6937992-212a-39eb.jpg)


Someone is getting a little anxious for the results. :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 09:08:56 AM
(http://img.tapatalk.com/a6937992-212a-39eb.jpg)


Someone is getting a little anxious for the results. :)

:D

Just waiting for one more vote, and then the results will be posted this evening. :)
Thank you for your patience ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TimH on August 19, 2012, 09:27:19 AM
Really enjoyed this blind comparison, and getting to know and appreciate this marvellous piece of music much better.

1st = C1: Blistering opening with thumping timpani and resplendent organ; followed by restrained string section, patient build-up, glorious multilayers; richness and complexity of score shines through, subtle detailed colouring throughout, very dramatic and committed reading; natural vivid recording - is it live?.... just the occasional quiet background noise; gripping fugal section; dance section - virtuoso playing with a lack of glitz and kitsch found elsewhere, skips along lightly; serene enchanting ending; all in all a hugely satisfying performance in every way.

2nd = C3: competes strongly with C1 - poised, nuanced, superb orchestral colours captured by recording, highly detailed, impassioned, emotional and thrilling; virtuoso orchestra; weaker than C1 in two key areas - (i) opening does not have the same impact, the timpani sounding rather woolly, and (ii) dance section gets off to a very slow start and solo violin lacks character and rather merges with background....... therefore overall just behind C1.

3rd = A5: Distant, crackly recording - some orchestral colour remains damped or hidden, but nevertheless still possesses sparkle, presence and depth; perfectly paced, well integrated, excellent balance between different parts of orchestra, secure, smooth, self-contained, robust; great orchestra, all solos expertly delivered; dance section violin solo - light, bouncy, accurate, forward moving, delicate, not cheesy; haunting ending; overall would have competed with C1 and C3 ...if only the recording were better!

4th = B4: Huge start! Huge timpani! Thrilling - vivid recording - shows how much was missing in A5 - but a little congested sometimes; orchestra lacking finesse of A5? Passionate and energetic with great clout but slightly rough and harsh occasionally - not as much light and shade as others; occasional conductor sounds, but not obtrusive; dance section violin solo - too stuttering at start.

5th = C2: Very thin congested sound with background noise/hiss; woolly timpani and solo instruments sound terrible - violin, oboe;
sound distortion makes it difficult to ascertain merits of performance - sounds like ragged string ensemble at times, sliding and swooping all over the place; creates more frustration than enjoyment! For me does not compete with the others.

Looking forward to the results.

Well done madaboutmahler for another fascinating blind comparison.

TimH
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 09:37:30 AM
Thank you for your vote, very interesting comments!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 09:39:11 AM
Ok, I think that's all the votes collected, thank you again everyone! I hope you have enjoyed this comparison, and the results will be posted later this evening, probably at around 10.00 pm England time.

:)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 19, 2012, 09:44:21 AM
Ok, I think that's all the votes collected, thank you again everyone! I hope you have enjoyed this comparison, and the results will be posted later this evening, probably at around 10.00 pm England time.

:)


Great job again, Daniel.  ;)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 11:14:39 AM

Great job again, Daniel.  ;)

Thank you very much, Greg - right, just about to start typing up the results now! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 12:09:53 PM
And here they are, the final results:

05. C2 Vienna Philharmonic/Clemens Krauss (Testament/1950)
In this recording made just a year after Strauss' death, by a close friend, voters admired the passion and enthusiasm the music was played with mostly, and the level of transparency and richness. However, most of the voters felt that because of the dated sound, it could not content against the other recordings in the top 5.


(This recording recieved 13 out of a possible 35 points)

04. B4 Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti (Decca/1975)
'On the edge' playing, with a kinetic, almost vicious feel attracted some, but others longed for some subtlety, and also a better balance. Certainly a thrilling account though! :D


(This recording recieved 16 out of a possible 35 points)

03. A5 Vienna Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan (Decca/1959)
Many were impressed by this performance, praising it for being beautifully detailed, lyrical and involving. Voters did wish it could be heard in better sound, it is possible this cd has a better remaster.


(This recording recieved 20 out of a possible 35 points)

02. C1 Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan (DG/1974)
It was very close between Karajan's classic second recording and the winning recording, with only two points between them! Most listeners adored this recording from the very start, calling it beautifully portrayed and poetic. Most found this an incredibly satisfying performance in every single way.


(This recording recieved 27 out of a possible 35 points)

01. C3 Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner (RCA/1954)
And this classic performance comes first, and deservedly too. It has been a favourite to pretty much everyone throughout the whole comparison, tending to take the top number of points from every vote, and if not, only because Karajan on C1 had instead... Listeners were incredibly impressed by the virtosity and brilliance of the orchestra, and amazed at how detailed, emotional and gorgeous the playing was.

(This recording recieved 29 out of a possible 35 points)

 Remarkable also how well remastered this has been...  A well deserved Strauss ASZ champion!
  0:)



So that's it! Thank you very much for all of your contribution, I hope you have enjoyed it all, and will continue to enjoy the comparisons!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 19, 2012, 12:18:55 PM
Thank you very much for that.  Now I know where I stand, lol!   What is ASZ?
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 12:20:48 PM
Thank you very much for that.  Now I know where I stand, lol!   What is ASZ?

My pleasure! :) ASZ = Also Sprach Zarathustra
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 19, 2012, 12:22:57 PM
My pleasure! :) ASZ = Also Sprach Zarathustra

Ach!  I feel like a fool.  Of course!  Thank you for theis and all the other tests, these really do 'test our mettle' and we get to know what we like just that wee bit better.  Good man, Daniel, hats off to you.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 12:29:19 PM
Ach!  I feel like a fool.  Of course!  Thank you for theis and all the other tests, these really do 'test our mettle' and we get to know what we like just that wee bit better.  Good man, Daniel, hats off to you.

Not at all!

And it's my pleasure, thank you for your kind words. I really enjoy sorting out the comparisons! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Lisztianwagner on August 19, 2012, 12:37:00 PM
What interesting results! So Reiner's recording has won; I had never listened to it before, but it rather impressed me in this comparison, such an excellent version! I'm deeply sorry Karajan's performances didn't win, they are the best ever recorded in my opinion, especially the VPO version; anyway glad it came to so high positions!

Thank you so much for this blind comparison, Daniel, it was absolutely a great fun! ;D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 19, 2012, 12:46:51 PM
That's a good top 5 list for sure. Great results.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 19, 2012, 12:58:45 PM
Can someone explain this. I have the Reiner recording. Total time is 31:48 according to the booklet, and I confirmed that time on my computer by checking each track. I checked Amazon. Same timings.

But the performance we heard as C3 is 34:04, more than two minutes slower. The Sunrise on the Reiner recording is 1:31. The Sunrise on C3 is 1:44. WTF, over.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 19, 2012, 01:00:59 PM
Can someone explain this. I have the Reiner recording. Total time is 31:48 according to the booklet, and I confirmed that time on my computer by checking each track. I checked Amazon. Same timings.

But the performance we heard as C3 is 34:04, more than two minutes slower. The Sunrise on the Reiner recording is 1:31. The Sunrise on C3 is 1:44. WTF, over.

Sarge

That is very strange, Sarge.... I'll look into this. I think he only recorded it once....
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 02:40:45 AM
Continuing the C3 controversy: I just listened to the Reiner CD and compared it to C3. They are different. I initially thought maybe the rip had somehow made C3 slower. But that would change the pitch, wouldn't it? The trumpet notes in Sunrise seem to be at the same pitch in both recordings though. But not only timings are different; the instrumental balance is different too. For example, the triangle is very prominent at the climax to Sunrise in C3 but can't be heard on the Reiner CD (maybe one faint ping). The horns in Joys and Passions really leap out in C3--a detail I loved so much when comparing versions. On the Reiner CD they are can barely be discerned throughout much of this section, so well blended are they with the strings. Here's a rip of Reiner's Joys and Passions. Compare it with C3 (starting at 7:40). The difference is startling, and can be heard immediately:

http://www.4shared.com/mp3/I6AaeFyx/Joys_and_Passions.html?

Daniel, where did you get C3? Is it your own rip from a CD you own, did someone give it to you, or did you find it somewhere? I'm wondering if we have an actual blind listening experience here. Double blind! with the moderator being in the dark too ;D


Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 20, 2012, 03:28:30 AM
We may never know who won.  :o
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on August 20, 2012, 03:37:11 AM
Interesting. Sarge's Reiner is different, a little speedier, upon cursory listening.
I had wondered where the Reiner was because Daniel had told me it was in the mix somewhere. But I had guessed A5, even though the opening of A5 sounds exactly like the the opening for the film "2001," which had used the older Karajan recording.
I didn't know what C3 was, (and perhaps I still don't) but I like Daniel's Reiner a little better than Sarge's, what I heard of Sarge's anyway.

I had guessed C3 might have been Zubin Mehta. I'm not a fan of his but I've read his recording of the piece is exceptional. Mehta was nowhere to be found. I thought the sound too good to be from 1954. (The Reiner recording date.)

I was pretty sure C1 was Karajan. I have that recording but haven't listened to it in years. I was determined not to for this judging either. I had done that with the Bernstein recording of the Mahler 6th and that recording had so topped all the others in my mind it detracted from my ability to judge the others impartially.

Because I thought there was a chance Daniel might have included two Karajans I had wondered if he might also have included Karajan's third, digital, performance. I've never heard that one. For a while I wondered if B4 might have been the digital Karajan but gave up on that thought because the sensibility of B4 is so different from what I associate with Karajan. But I never thought it could be Solti, though in hindsight I should have. But the sound of B4 is so good I thought it had to be later than 1975, when Solti recorded his performance.

Lesson learned? STOP GUESSING. Will I follow my own advice? Nah.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 04:22:37 AM
I've owned Reiner for many years. I was shocked to see C3 revealed as Reiner because that's not the performance I know.

Here's my Reiner CD. As I said, I checked the booklet's timings with the CD on my computer and they match. They also match the timings (within a second or two anyway) of a different incarnation listed at Amazon (http://www.amazon.de/Living-Stereo-dirigiert-Zarathustra-Heldenleben/dp/B000003FE9/ref=sr_1_4?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1345468222&sr=1-4) so I'm sure I actually have Reiner and not some production mistake.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/june12/ASZreiner.jpg)

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/june12/ASZreinerinside.jpg)


Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 20, 2012, 04:37:37 AM
I've owned Reiner for many years. I was shocked to see C3 revealed as Reiner because that's not the performance I know.

Here's my Reiner CD. As I said, I checked the booklet's timings with the CD on my computer and they match. They also match the timings (within a second or two anyway) of a different incarnation listed at Amazon (http://www.amazon.de/Living-Stereo-dirigiert-Zarathustra-Heldenleben/dp/B000003FE9/ref=sr_1_4?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1345468222&sr=1-4) so I'm sure I actually have Reiner and not some production mistake.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/june12/ASZreiner.jpg)

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/june12/ASZreinerinside.jpg)



I love a mystery! Accidental or not, this is great! I hope he knows which it is though. I did a qucik timing comparison of C3 in round 1 with round 3, and they are identical timings, so it does appear that they are at least the same versions (that is, not mixed up in just the last round).
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 04:41:20 AM
For a while I wondered if B4 might have been the digital Karajan but gave up on that thought because the sensibility of B4 is so different from what I associate with Karajan. But I never thought it could be Solti, though in hindsight I should have.

I suspected B4 was Solti but hedged my bet by claiming I wasn't really guessing  :D  I can't explain why, but this performance reminded me of the sound of Solti's Ring. That coupled with an intense reading that refused to relax convinced me it was him.

I had guessed C3 might have been Zubin Mehta. I'm not a fan of his but I've read his recording of the piece is exceptional

Which recording? New York or LA? I listened to a couple of clips of the New York performance and they don't seem to match C3. Can't find any clips of the LA performance though.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 04:44:08 AM
I love a mystery! Accidental or not, this is great! I hope he knows which it is though. I did a qucik timing comparison of C3 in round 1 with round 3, and they are identical timings, so it does appear that they are at least the same versions (that is, not mixed up in just the last round).

Good to know. I wondered if there maybe had been a mix up at the end but couldn't check because the last round was the first I heard C3 and I  didn't have access to the first round clips.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 20, 2012, 04:49:12 AM
Good to know. I wondered if there maybe had been a mix up at the end but couldn't check because the last round was the first I heard C3 and I  didn't have access to the first round clips.

Sarge
Perhaps the way to go about it is for everyone to see if they have a version that lasts 34.04 (or close to it). I only have one version, so I won't be any help whatsoever on that one.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 20, 2012, 04:53:27 AM
Perhaps the answer can be found within ourselves, we the individuals, hold the key to all of life's questions, we are, the Supermen.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 05:00:26 AM
Perhaps the way to go about it is for everyone to see if they have a version that lasts 34.04 (or close to it). I only have one version, so I won't be any help whatsoever on that one.

I've got 9 Zarathustras with Karajan '59 (A5) just ordered. I'll check them.


KEMPE  STAATSKAPELLE DRESDEN
SINOPOLI    NEW YORK
KARAJAN   BERLIN PHIL (DG 74 1984)
REINER  CHICAGO
TENNSTEDT LPO
BYCHKOV   PHILHARMONIA
JÄRVI  SCOTTISH NATIONAL O
ZINMAN  TONHALLE ZURICH
LEWIS  RPO


Edit: I have the digital Karajan, not the 74,

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 05:01:01 AM
Perhaps the answer can be found within ourselves, we the individuals, hold the key to all of life's questions, we are, the Supermen.

 ;D :D ;D

Super Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 05:02:33 AM
I only have one version.

Which do you own, Neal?

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 20, 2012, 05:10:45 AM
Which do you own, Neal?

Sarge
Karajan/BPO I think (the one that comes in the recently released Strauss box on DG with Karajan conducting). Basically, all I needed was Don Juan. Next thing I knew, I had five discs of his in my hand - like I needed another Alpine Symphony! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 20, 2012, 05:31:20 AM
I'm sure Daniel will clear this up.  It may be that he has retrieved some of the samples from an online source.  Some fool may have misnamed the performance at the source, and like many of us, Dianiel didn't expect it to be anything other than what it said it was.  Maybe.  Anyway, it was still a great comparison, and if an innocent mistake has been made, I'm damn sure with the Mahler 1 test there will be no questions asked!   :D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 20, 2012, 05:34:00 AM
I'm sure Daniel will clear this up.  It may be that he has retrieved some of the samples from an online source.  Some fool may have misnamed the performance at the source, and like many of us, Dianiel didn't expect it to be anything other than what it said it was.  Maybe.  Anyway, it was still a great comparison, and if an innocent mistake has been made, I'm damn sure with the Mahler 1 test there will be no questions asked!   :D


I hope Daniel doesn't think this reflects poorly on him, because it truly doesn't. It's no big deal, it's actually kind of fun trying to find out which performance it is.

Daniel, come back!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mc ukrneal on August 20, 2012, 05:49:43 AM

I hope Daniel doesn't think this reflects poorly on him, because it truly doesn't. It's no big deal, it's actually kind of fun trying to find out which performance it is.

Daniel, come back!
Exactly! I think it's way cool and a fun mystery!
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 06:09:35 AM
Not Daniel's fault at all. I'm amazed he was able to find so many Zarathustra's for us. I couldn't have done it. And thanks to Daniel, this comparison has given me a much deeper appreciation of the work. One mislabeled (perhaps) performance just proves the rule: if something can go wrong, it will  :D

I checked the timings of my versions and listened to short segments of each. None matched C3. I didn't expect any would. I'm fairly certain I've never heard C3 before.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 20, 2012, 08:25:15 AM
Many thanks to all of your for your support, again, I'm very sorry about this! Yes, as John thought, I downloaded the Reiner from a website. The good news is that I now know which performance this is, and it's still Reiner. But in this case, recorded in 1980. The description given by the download is: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Eterna 1980-

I searched using this description on amazon, but nothing came up, because of the word 'Eterna'. Any ideas anyone?

In the meantime, I continue to keep looking. Thanks again for your support, I will make sure a mistake like this never occurs again! :)

Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 20, 2012, 08:38:21 AM
Good news everyone! I am pretty sure I have found the recording you voted as your favourite now!

This is Reiner's later recording, with a duration that matches exactly the time of C3!

So here it is, your winner! (I'm pretty sure this time!)



What a great recording! And it comes with Der Rosenkavalier Waltzes.... :D Sorry again about this, thank you for everything everyone! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 20, 2012, 10:56:31 AM
So Reiner won without his 1954 recording, very interesting.

Title: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 20, 2012, 11:06:01 AM
I may have to buy that I really like that recording.

It's kind of like the Yankees minor-league team coming up to the majors and winning the World Series
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 20, 2012, 11:25:46 AM
Thanks for clearing up the mystery, Daniel  8)


Sarge
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 20, 2012, 12:30:53 PM
Certainly is interesting, Greg! I wander what would have happened if I had included both Reiner's!

My pleasure, Sarge! And sorry for it happening in the first place! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: zauberflöte on August 20, 2012, 12:44:25 PM
The good news is that I now know which performance this is, and it's still Reiner. But in this case, recorded in 1980. The description given by the download is: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Eterna 1980

But Reiner died in 1963. Now the next mystery. When was it recorded?  The album cover look distinctly early '60s.
But good work, Daniel for ferreting this all out.
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 20, 2012, 12:55:22 PM
But Reiner died in 1963. Now the next mystery. When was it recorded?  The album cover look distinctly early '60s.
But good work, Daniel for ferreting this all out.

The back of the cd says this particular recording of ASZ was made in 1962, so therefore one year before Reiner's death. I'm not quite sure why 1980 was mentioned in the download description therefore.... maybe it's the release date of the cd, or a remaster date? Thank you, Jim! :)
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: John Copeland on August 20, 2012, 02:42:37 PM
Good Daniel!   8)
Now for Mahler...
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: madaboutmahler on August 21, 2012, 03:35:16 AM
Good Daniel!   8)
Now for Mahler...

Thanks, John! Yes, on we go! :D
Title: Re: Blind Comparison: R.Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Post by: mjwal on September 10, 2012, 05:55:20 AM
The back of the cd says this particular recording of ASZ was made in 1962, so therefore one year before Reiner's death. I'm not quite sure why 1980 was mentioned in the download description therefore.... maybe it's the release date of the cd, or a remaster date? Thank you, Jim! :)
I've come back to look at the final results of this blinder, which I regret not having had the stamina to continue after two rounds - and see that there is a small question about the 1962 Reiner ASZ. The solution is that it was obviously copied from an Eterna CD, Eterna being the name of the GDR record label back when - some reissues are still given this label - and that they just stuck the date of their original LP issue (there having been no CDs in 1980, of course) on the record. It's just possible that they weren't being very specific because of rights and payments. It was certainly issued on LP in the FRG, because I remember seeing that cover.
It sounds great anyway, even if I have realised that I am au fond out of sympathy with the work (though I still resonate to the liveMitropoulos/Concertgebouw), whereas the Alpensinfonie is one of my favourite Strauss works...