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The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: aukhawk on January 26, 2015, 06:58:02 AM

Title: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 26, 2015, 06:58:02 AM
OK, well I'm aware that there's a blind Mozart comparison somewhere down the page, and I really don't intend to interfere with that when it becomes a going concern, but ...

I've got a Bach Cello Suites blind test ready, this would be a 'miDi-blind' (by 'midi' I mean between 12 and 24 runners and riders).
In fact Round 1 will be 3 groups of 6, I hope.
Thing is, I've got 30 here - so I'm proposing a Prologue round, very short clips, very quick assessment, no messing about, just to knock those 30 down to 18.  Once that's done, we can review where the Mozart is at, before continuing with Round 1 proper.

3 groups, 10 in each.  Each sample is about 3 minutes of music, comprising extracts from the Courante and Bourrees of Suite 4 in E flat major.
All I need to know really is one of:
Yes - I'll want to hear more of this one
OK - I wouldn't rule it out
No - this would never make my short list.
To be honest 3 minutes is more than enough for this - probably 30 seconds is all you'll need!  For sanity's sake, I advise not trying to do all 10 in one sitting, even though it is only about 35 minutes in total.

PM me or add to this thread to receive download links for one of the groups in the Bach Blind Prologue.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 26, 2015, 07:00:39 AM
Yes, thanks.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on January 26, 2015, 07:07:30 AM
Count me in!

By the way, Mozart was cancelled, so no scheduling problems.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: North Star on January 26, 2015, 08:34:38 AM
I'm in.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Que on January 26, 2015, 10:12:07 AM
Yes, please! :)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on January 26, 2015, 11:27:25 AM
I'm in.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on January 26, 2015, 12:23:22 PM
aukhawk, please count me in as well. Thanks.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on January 26, 2015, 01:20:54 PM
Sounds like fun. I'm in!  Thank you!  :)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on January 26, 2015, 02:16:35 PM
Of course, count me in.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 26, 2015, 02:26:23 PM
Thanks everyone!  Links gone out to all those who've replied so far.  I really enjoyed compiling these, I hope you enjoy listening to them.

Round 1 proper, when we get there, will comprise around 13 minutes of music from Suites 3 and 2. 
Round 2 will probably concentrate on Suite 6. 
The final will probably be the entire Suite 5.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on January 26, 2015, 06:20:35 PM
Waves hand wildly to make it clear he wants in...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on January 26, 2015, 06:23:05 PM
It's been a while, so I was starved for a blind listening! :) No comments, since it's really a pre-vote. But I did vote out the non-cello, although for musical reasons (which was a boon, because it will be difficult to compare the non-cellos, though it would be interesting to hear them).

B group
Yes - 3 and 10
Ok - 1,4,6,7 and 8
No - 2,5, and 9
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Brian on January 26, 2015, 06:37:24 PM
Please!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on January 26, 2015, 10:41:21 PM
i'm in
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 27, 2015, 01:33:43 AM
It's been a while, so I was starved for a blind listening! :)

Little more than an amuse-bouche.  Hopefully it won't be too long before the fish course arrives!

Fair choices Neal, thankyou.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on January 27, 2015, 01:42:10 AM
Aukhawk,
All assessments go directly to you via a PM?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 27, 2015, 01:53:42 AM
No, more fun if they go straight in to this thread I think.  Neal's above were put in to white text to conceal them, but that's all optional as far as I'm concerned.

What I would be interested to hear from others, is, in the next rounds do you want the 'blind history' of each concealed, so that effectively in each round each remaining cellist has to prove themselves again - or shall I just say, like "F4 (was A1)" so that you can build up more of a picture?
Personally, with 36+ movements to go at and we won't hear them all by any means, I don't see anything wrong with the 2nd approach.  What do people think?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on January 27, 2015, 03:57:40 AM

Round 1 proper, when we get there, will comprise around 13 minutes of music from Suites 3 and 2. 
Round 2 will probably concentrate on Suite 6. 
The final will probably be the entire Suite 5.

Very well organized, I think.

What will be the deadline for round 1?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on January 27, 2015, 04:24:06 AM
yes - B2, B7, B5,
ok - B4,
no - B1, B3, B6, B8, B9, B10
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 27, 2015, 06:13:38 AM
Ruthless axeman!!  ;)

What will be the deadline for round 1?

If you mean this 'Prologue', well hopefully the end of the coming weekend, and I'll post the results on Monday.  We'll see how it goes though.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on January 27, 2015, 11:19:02 AM
Please send me the link to round 1.

Please don't disappear halfway through, as two out of three Comparisonmeisters have done recently.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on January 27, 2015, 01:51:48 PM
Round one. A judgement based upon one single movement must necessarily become somewhat simplified and to tell the cellist even more difficult, because there are so many  options. My guesses are just indicative.

These are my votes:

1)   A noble pre-HIP interpretation, my first thought was Fournier or something alike. Because my taste have changed in the direction of HIP, I only say OK to this.

2)   An old recording, interpretation however not that oldfashioned (Casals?) so also OK to this.

3)   An agile extrovert HIP interpretation. Could be Beschi. YES to this.

4)   A rather conventional pre-HIP interpretation. Options are legio. OK to this.

5)   Sounds like violoncello da spalla. Not Terakado, probably not Badiarov, probably S Kuijken.YES to this, even I prefer the two others to Kuijken.

6)   I find this interpretation to be on the romantic side, particularly the second bouree, which in these ears is played in a misguided way. My first association is Rostropovich. However NO to this.

7)   This is a version which vary the repeats very much and in my opinion not in a convincing way. My thoughts are directed towards Lipkind or less probably Zelenka. NO to this.

8)   HIP for better or worse, rather willful (Wispelwey is my first association). A small ok to this.

9)   Very dancing pre-HIP version, charming I would say (Schiff? Queyras?) YES to this.

10)   HIP, expressive in a very convincing way, maybe the best of these ten versions (first association Bijlsma). YES to this.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 27, 2015, 02:03:17 PM
That was group B by the way folks.  Thanks :premont: and sorry about the lack of :repeats: (It won't happen again.)

Please don't disappear halfway through, as two out of three Comparisonmeisters have done recently.

I know, I'm very worried about that, I'm expecting a visitation from the Men In Black any time ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on January 27, 2015, 06:15:52 PM
Group A:

Favorites: A3, A9

Liked: A2, A5, A6, A7, A8, A10

Meh: A1 A4
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: betterthanfine on January 28, 2015, 04:06:09 AM
Is it too late for me to join in? :)

By the way, Mozart was cancelled, so no scheduling problems.

How come? I was looking forward to that one.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on January 28, 2015, 01:48:20 PM
Could I?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on January 28, 2015, 04:37:04 PM
How come? I was looking forward to that one.
That member is no longer around...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: betterthanfine on January 29, 2015, 12:37:32 AM
That member is no longer around...

Ah, thanks. That's too bad.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on January 29, 2015, 09:02:34 AM
Group C
NO to C4
Yes to all the others.

My No vote is based on the theory that, while heavy breathing is valid in 50 Shades of Grey, it is not valid in Bach. And it is heavy breathing, not singing along a al Gould.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on January 29, 2015, 09:43:45 AM
Thanks Jeffrey.
Keep 'em coming folks - by all means add brief comments if you wish.  No-one definitely eliminated yet although two are hanging by a fingernail (including, inevitably, one of my favourites   ::) )
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on January 31, 2015, 04:16:32 PM

B1 Reverberant recording. Fairly light touch at times but also digs in when needed. Counterpoint in Bourree II is really well done. Repeats in Bourree I are well-differentiated. A great start to the comparison.
B2 Much older recording. Playing also not up to today's technical standards. Repeats at end of excerpt are not differentiated. Overall style is not bad but I don't hear any special insights to overcome the problems.
B3 Opening sounds frantic, with semiquavers having as much bow noise as string tone. Fingerboard tapping sound is distracting. Counterpoint in Bourree II is done pretty well. Awkward pause at 2:13. Repeat is played a bit louder, with a crescendo, an unusual way of differentiating it (though one I heard again later).
B4 Very dry recording. Opening reminds me of a dead-wall practice room (though some reverb creeps in later). Nice trills at 0:46,0:49. Often very legato. Bourree II is very slow. Repeats are barely differentiated.
B5 Imperfect intonation, a few duffed notes, sometimes wiry tone. Bourree II is good, a bit exaggerated in spots but I like it. But sounds like it was recorded in different acoustic. Repeats sound a bit rushed.
B6 Dry acoustic but brighter sound than B4. Adds some double stops at beginning. Bourree II is taken slowly and made to sound like a march. Counterpoint is handled well. Like B3, repeats are played louder. Also a bit ornamented. This is really good if a bit idiosyncratic.
B7 Back to reverb. This sounds familiar (but later, I don't think it can be). 0:48-0:58 seems willful. What on earth is that at 1:23? And at 1:43? And at 1:52? And at 2:45? And at 2:50? I like the ornamentation at the end but it's not enough to overcome the previous flaws.
B8 Pretty straightforward but reasonably well done. Would like the counterpoint and repeats to be more differentiated.
B9 Dry sound. Like the early character but bass notes have an unattractive tone. 0:40-0:55 is too square. Bourree II is more elegant than most. Bourree I is really good.
B10 Reverby. Breathing is a bit too audible. Playing is very well characterized. Bourree II is elegant a la B9 but better tone. Repeats are subtly differentiated.

Yes: B1, B6, B10
OK: B3, B4, B5, B8, B9
No: B2, B7
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jo498 on February 01, 2015, 01:02:18 AM
+ yes, - no, ~ don't care

c1 -

c2 +

c3 viola? +

c4 - too much reverb

c5 ~

c6 +

c7 +

c8 +

c9  I do not like the sound of this one, but it sounds so strange that I'd like to know who it is.

c10 +
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 01, 2015, 02:31:50 AM
Thanks folks.
With 4 out of 5 votes in for Group B, it's still hard to shake them apples out of the tree.  The favourite 2 are clear enough (and surprising, to me) and so are the un-favourite 2 (including the obligatory 'shock') but the remaining 6 are difficult to separate.  At least 1 more, preferably 2, must go, I'm relying on you, betterthanfine!  ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: North Star on February 01, 2015, 03:11:26 AM
C1 YES
C2 NO
C3 YES
C4 YES
C5 NO
C6  YES
C7 YES
C8 ~
C9 NO
C10 YES
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 01, 2015, 03:44:43 AM
Still possible to join?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 01, 2015, 05:22:52 AM
Yes but as these are really short 'Prologue' clips I'm hoping to be able to move on and send out Round 1 proper by, well it's looking like Tuesday evening (UK time).  That round will be about 12 minutes of music and 3 groups of 6 (or possibly 7 if the current round is inconclusive).
I've PM'd you links to Prologue Group A which is the one where I most need votes at the moment, but if you don't have time I'll include you again when sending out the links for Round 1.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on February 01, 2015, 09:18:11 AM
This is tricky....

Group A

Yes: A1, A3, A7, A10

Maybe: A2, A6, A9

No: A4, A5, A8
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on February 01, 2015, 09:54:05 AM
My quick take on the Group C performances in the Prologue Round:

C1 – okay   (I'm not crazy about this one, but it does have character.)
C2 – yes
C3 – okay
C4 – no
C5 – okay / no?   (I can take it or leave it. I won't be disappointed if it's cut.)
C6 – yes
C7 – no
C8 – yes
C9 – yes
C10 – okay / yes?   (It's not quite my cup of tea, but I think it deserves further hearing.)


N.B.: At this point, I'm being less critical than I'd be at a later stage.  I don't want to be the one responsible for eliminating a famous recording before we can even give it a chance. ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 01, 2015, 12:04:26 PM
Thanks.

I don't want to be the one responsible for eliminating a famous recording before we can even give it a chance. ;)

As it happens, of the two you voted a definite 'no' - one was already doomed and the other already guaranteed a place.  So you can sleep easy tonight  ;)

Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Ken B on February 01, 2015, 12:52:04 PM
I'm not in it, but the "too much reverb" comments suggests a terrific Fournier set is doomed ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jo498 on February 01, 2015, 12:59:00 PM
I do not think c4 is Fournier. At least not on Archiv; I have this one and like it and would be really disappointed by myself if I had flippantly dismissed it because reverb (I don't think there's a lot of reverb on the Fournier/Archiv).
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on February 01, 2015, 01:43:25 PM
Group C:

yes: 1,4-6,8,10
no: 2,3,7,9
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Ken B on February 01, 2015, 03:15:26 PM
I do not think c4 is Fournier. At least not on Archiv; I have this one and like it and would be really disappointed by myself if I had flippantly dismissed it because reverb (I don't think there's a lot of reverb on the Fournier/Archiv).
I meant his later one, which I had on vinyl. It was very echo-y indeed. But as I say, I have not listened, just a cynical guess.  :D
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 02, 2015, 01:09:07 AM
It doesn't look as though you're going to find out which one was Fournier, any time soon.

Group C's done & dusted but I badly need a couple more votes in Group A before we can move on, please folks.

I must say, before we started I had looked at Group C and thought it very slightly the weakest of the three groups - the voting says otherwise, with 2 cellists getting 100% approval and 8 out of the 10 more than 50%.  Contrast that with Group B where one has 75%, one has 50% and all the rest lie below the 50% mark!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jo498 on February 02, 2015, 01:19:37 AM
you said we should just do it quick and dirty in the "prologue" so I gave more or less spontaneous reactions, basically approval unless someone explicitly annoyed me. (And I do not know the music so well as e.g. the Schubert quintet so I do not have strong preconceptions how it should go.)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: North Star on February 02, 2015, 01:24:12 AM
It doesn't look as though you're going to find out which one was Fournier, any time soon.

Group C's done & dusted but I badly need a couple more votes in Group A before we can move on, please folks.

I must say, before we started I had looked at Group C and thought it very slightly the weakest of the three groups - the voting says otherwise, with 2 cellists getting 100% approval and 8 out of the 10 more than 50%.  Contrast that with Group B where one has 75%, one has 50% and all the rest lie below the 50% mark!
I can help with Group A  8)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: betterthanfine on February 02, 2015, 02:18:16 AM
Eep, life got in the way this weekend and I didn't get down to listening yet. I'll make sure to get my votes in tonight! Sorry folks!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on February 02, 2015, 02:50:58 AM
i can do some group A as well
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: North Star on February 02, 2015, 03:30:16 AM
A1 -  YES
A2 -   ~
A3 -  YES
A4 -   ~
A5 -  YES
A6 -  NO
A7 -  NO
A8 -  YES
A9 -   ~
A10-  YES
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 02, 2015, 08:08:38 AM
Thanks North Star.  The words "glutton" and "punishment" spring to mind.  ;)  And thanks in anticipation, betterthanfine and xochitl.

Now about the next round, Round 1 proper.
This will consist of Suite 3 (in C major) - Prelude, followed by Suite 2 (D minor) - Sarabande, Minuets, Gigue.
No cuts, each clip is around 13 minutes long.  Three groups of 6, from which 10 will go on to Round 2.

Because, in the Prologue, the question was "do you want to hear more of this?" it seems only right that everyone who voted will be sent links for the 'chosen ones' from the group they already heard (though played in a different order).  So, Group A cut down becomes Group D, B becomes E and C becomes F.  More or less.  If you'd rather hear a different group than last time (maybe you didn't like them much?) - let me know.  Later rounds will be more mixed up of course.

Group C voting is complete and they'll be receiving links for Group F a few minutes after I post this.  Groups D and E should follow in about 1 day's time, and I'll post the 12 fallers from the Prologue around then as well.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: betterthanfine on February 03, 2015, 02:07:33 PM
Alright, I finally found some time tonight! Again, apologies for the wait.

Group B:

1: Yes
2: Meh
3: NO
4: No
5: No
6: Meh
7: Yes
8: Yes!
9: Meh
10: No
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 03, 2015, 02:45:15 PM
Group A

A1 Big-boned and resonant… buoyant. I’m not sure if I want to hear a whole set of Suites of this more than once and still dig it as much, but for a first impression, it’s quite the stuff. Maiskyesque.

Relatively close miking for being such a soup, acoustically. Digs deep and takes every invitation to go for it. Understatement it ain’t. Some of the oomph the stupid soundcard of my computer adds, which I can’t avoid right now, not having access to my DCAs.

YES. More Please.

A2 Still much reverb. Still my soundcard at distorting work? More muffled, slightly older sound. Regal, speedy, well judged… on the one hand… but also too fast and leaving little by way of footprint. A truck just drove by in the back. Second sample bit gives me a groove that I was missing earlier. I’m now less skeptical. Is it noble or bland? It’s not bland bland, for sure. And maybe not noble… leaves me confused. Must hear more, but won’t demand to do so.

OK. Why Not.


A3 Haha! Hello there, extrovert. HIP, aren’t you. This soundcard really is too obnoxious. Everything sounds reverberant. But this sounded good, anyway. Yes, I like it.

YES. More Please.


A4 Ah, look who is trying to sail through. Don’t know if it holds my interest.

OK.

A5 Low, deep sound. Least reverberant… as if recorded off a microphone on the fingerboard, almost. I don’t mind the sounds of the fingers, though… gives it rhythm a bit like adding a table to the whole shebang. I’ll give it a

YES.

A6 sailed by me the first time. Second time I am glad it sailed by me the first time. Not an inspired opening. AND plodding counterpoint? Thanks but

NO thanks.

A7 S.l.o.w. I’d hate to dismiss something because of its age… but it’s not the age-slowness that I object to, it’s the lumbering rhythm. The second bit is much more promising, with real bite. Still, by a hair’s breadth it’s a:

NO

A8 Tubby and noises and on the border of hecticism. Da Spalla? Interesting enough to merit a

YES, but just.

A9 Fast and glib on first hearing.

NO. I’m happy to hear it but if I never hear this again that’s fine, too. Not bad, but not giving me anything other can’t give me also. This would win only against egregiously off kilter recordings.

A10 That didn’t particularly knock me over.

OK.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 03, 2015, 03:59:36 PM
That's great - thanks both.
A rundown of the eliminations and links to the next round will follow tomorrow
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Brian on February 03, 2015, 08:26:35 PM
Am I too late?? If so, disregard.

A1 yes
A2 no
A3 yes
A4 meh
A5 meh
A6 no. Awful.
A7 yes, very much yes. Possibly Queyras. Why does Jens think this is an old recording? Sounds to me like post-2000.
A8 yes. aha, the non-cello!
A9 no
A10 meh

Funny that all the other voters condemn A7 while it's my favorite of the ten. I don't know much about Bach!! But I did triple-check to make sure I really did want to vote yes, and the answer is yes, I do.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on February 03, 2015, 09:49:51 PM
hope im not too late!

a1 - yes
a2 - no
a3 - no
a4 - ok
a5 - no
a6 - no
a7 - no
a8 - woah...yes!
a9 - yes
a10 - a resounding yes
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on February 03, 2015, 10:53:53 PM
Am I too late?? If so, disregard.

A1 yes
A2 no
A3 yes
A4 meh
A5 meh
A6 no. Awful.
A7 yes, very much yes. Possibly Queyras. Why does Jens think this is an old recording? Sounds to me like post-2000.
A8 yes. aha, the non-cello!
A9 no
A10 meh

Funny that all the other voters condemn A7 while it's my favorite of the ten. I don't know much about Bach!! But I did triple-check to make sure I really did want to vote yes, and the answer is yes, I do.

Hey! I liked A7!   >:(
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 04, 2015, 01:22:14 AM
Not too late - thanks - voting closed (not for those who already have group F of course!) - results coming up ...

...

Least loved of all, scoring less than 10%, was A6 ...
Janos Starker



Also markedly unloved, scoring 30% each, are the following four, prepare to be shocked ...

B4 (not a single 'Yes' vote)
Mstislav Rostropovich



B3 (one 'Yes' vote)
Pieter Wispelwey (his 3rd recording) (and a personal favourite  :( )



B8 (one 'Yes' vote)
Anner Bylsma (his 2nd recording)



B9 (one 'Yes' vote)
Lynn Harrell


This last is truly awful sound quality, the worst on test IMO - sounds like a bad digital transfer of an over-bright Decca recording - I quite like the performance but this badly needs a remastering.

That's not all - 7 more rejects to follow shortly, stay tuned folks ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 04, 2015, 02:21:30 AM
... also not going forward to round 1 - in no particular order - these all scored around 40%, but generally only one Yes vote (out of 5 or 6 voters) ...

A2
Yo-Yo Ma



A4
Paul Tortelier (5 positive votes but like Starker and Rostropovich, none of them a Yes - a bit unlucky though)



A7 (2 Yes votes, but 4 No)
Isang Enders


For those speculating about the age of this recording - it was released in, er, 2014.

A9
Steven Isserliss



C4
Bruno Cocset (2 Yes, but 3 No)



C9
Maurice Gendron (2 Yes, but 3 No) (who is left, of the old guard?)



and finally, this one is very unlucky, there were two more on 40% that couldn't be split in any way, one goes through on reputation, leaving this lady out in the cold ...
B6
Winona Zelenka (another of my personal favourites  :( :( )




That concludes the carnage for the Prologue round, links for Round 1 groups D and E will be sent out via PM later today.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: betterthanfine on February 04, 2015, 04:02:01 AM
B3 (one 'Yes' vote)
Pieter Wispelwey (his 3rd recording) (and a personal favourite  :( )


Ha, I actually own this one (it was a present). I remember liking it on first listen, but B3 was without a doubt my least favourite from the group.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: betterthanfine on February 04, 2015, 04:11:35 AM
Those are some big names being kicked off so early, by the way.  ???
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 04, 2015, 04:36:56 AM
Those are some big names being kicked off so early, by the way.  ???

Yes but plenty left in too.  Some random notes:

Of those who did best in the proloque, two scored 100% but neither are names that figure strongly in the lengthy GMG Bach Cello Suites thread (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=3719.100), in fact one of them is virtually unknown.  2 more scored 92% and 90% and again neither are exactly GMG favourites.  Next in line at a very creditable 85% is the first of what I would call the GMG favourites (judging by the Cello Suites thread), a definite hot tip for the final. 
The 'not a cello' recordings divided opinion (only one 'maybe' vote between the three of them!) but they all survived, two of them very comfortably and one only just, on a technicality.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 04, 2015, 05:58:21 AM
Except for Wispelwey III (which I've never found engrossing on superficial listening... but which my respect for the artist and love for his 2nd recording made me assume it was my shortcoming), I am not surprised by the ones that fell by the wayside.

I've long said that Rostropovich is one of the most ghastly recordings of the Cello Suites.... (In the Bach Cello Suite thread: "What a beastly dud in his discography, indeed. Too reverent (or whatever else the problem was) and a complete bore.")

...and I only regret not having had the chance to blindly make a statement about it and see if my known opinion would be borne out by my blind opinion. Either YoYo was never considered a great recording, either... and Tortelier and Starker (esp. Tortelie) have always been overrated... hold-over reputation from a time with much less competition.

Gosh am I glad I wrote what I wrote about Isserlis: A9 Fast and glib on first hearing. - NO. I’m happy to hear it but if I never hear this again that’s fine, too. Not bad, but not giving me anything other can’t give me also. This would win only against egregiously off kilter recordings.

This compares to what I wrote about the recording for the ionarts Bach Cello Suite mini-survey (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-cello-suites-bach-ii-fournier.html):

Quote
Stephen Isserlis’ recording out of the way first: Speedy, lean, without much audible interpretive weight (though plenty via the fine liner notes!), he and his Hyperion engineers offer a somewhat thin sound in a very dry acoustic. That’s surprising, given the luxurious sound that his Stradivarius (Suites 1-4, 6) and Guadagnini (Suite 5) cellos are known to produce in concert or on other recordings.

Isserlis gives a very matter-of-factly reading that makes Gastinel’s – not really a personality-imbued interpretation, either – seem downright willful. There are moments when the interpretation strikes me as timid. Soft parts – listen to the Gavotte of Suite No.5 – can sound rushed and remind me of Rostropovich. (Which you won’t mistake for praise, given the above.) In the best moments he shows élan and a refreshing, athletic stride – but all too often it just sounds wimpy. He is a little easier on ornamentation than his French and German colleagues, and double stops are less often ‘carried over’ more notes – perhaps a result of working off the relatively ornamentation-sparse Anna-Magdalena score?...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Ken B on February 04, 2015, 06:16:45 AM
A4 identified! I really should have guessed. I had Tortelier on vinyl too. I liked it at first but quickly stopped listening to it because of the grand canyon echo.
Starker is a sentimental favourite as I saw him do a Bach and the Kodaly -- where he rules -- live.
I like Bylsma but my favorite is nowhere to be seen yet.
If I were being cyncial I'd predict Guido Schieffen will win .... >:D
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on February 04, 2015, 06:22:44 AM
Bylsma is one of my favorites......    :'( :'( :'( :'(

Interesting that only one of my no votes resulted in an elimination.  The A votes must have been all over the place..?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 04, 2015, 08:22:10 AM
Yes the late flurry of 'A' votes coming in did completely re-order that group.
But I would say all the votes were all over the place - 10 performers attracted both 'Yes' and 'No' votes without any 'Maybe' at all, indicating not that they were 'good' or 'bad' but simply a polarised view of their performing style.
The Courante from Suite 4 was deliberately chosen for this purpose, as it immediately highlights certain contrasts in bowing techniques so that in a very short time you can mentally place the performer somewhere on the map**

** a useful shorthand might be, if you think of the four compass points and then placing a performer somewhere in the space beteen them - I put 'grand performers' such as Tortelier up to the North, and 'introverts' like Wispelwey to the South - with 'dancing' types to the West and 'wrestling' types to the East.  That's how I look at it anyway.  Everyone would have their preferred area on that map, mine is sort of East and a bit South, and for choice I don't usually listen to anyone in the northern quadrant, which I think is just modern GMG-informed taste  ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Ken B on February 04, 2015, 09:13:59 AM
Interesting that only one of my no votes resulted in an elimination.  The A votes ...

Yes the late flurry of 'A' votes coming in did completely re-order that group.


A plot to disenfranchise Moonfish!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on February 04, 2015, 12:53:09 PM
It would have been interesting to see comments on Rostropovich's Suite 6, but no surprise whatsoever over his early departure.

I love Bylsma in general, but for the Bach Suites, I think his earlier recording is better.

I am bummed about Zelenka, who I had never heard of. Her Bourree II may have been "misguided" as somebody said, but it was one of the most interesting things I heard here.

From other groups, I am surprised that Starker was dropped so overwhelmingly.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on February 04, 2015, 01:47:13 PM
A plot to disenfranchise Moonfish!


 ??? :'( :'( :'(
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on February 04, 2015, 01:50:15 PM
B3 (one 'Yes' vote)
Pieter Wispelwey (his 3rd recording) (and a personal favourite  :( )


I did my best! I should add that I had never heard it before either. On the other hand, these things always surprise.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Moonfish on February 04, 2015, 01:58:52 PM
I did my best! I should add that I had never heard it before either. On the other hand, these things always surprise.

True! The outcome will be interesting (hopefully) and very unpredictable!
It would be fun if we could bet on the different versions of the cello suites!!  >:D
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on February 05, 2015, 09:19:44 AM
Blind comparison. Bach Cello Suites, "round 1 proper." Group D:

1. D5 & D3 tie for favorite (I must get these if I don't already have them, and I only have one.)
3. D2 meh
4. D4 meh
5. D1 no
6. D6 no
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Madiel on February 05, 2015, 02:02:51 PM
Well I shall definitely watch this with interest. The only 2 cellists I have - Rostropovich and Tortelier - have both gone by the wayside.

(Of the two I tend to prefer Rostropovich, but he does need a kick up the backside at times.)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 06, 2015, 01:13:12 AM
I'd never listened to Rostropovich (in Bach) before preparing this comparison - he's mostly had unfavourable reviews in various places - but actually I quite liked what I heard, within the context of the 'grand old men' of the 50s,60s,70s I thought he came off best and was the most modern-sounding of those.

Tortelier now, he was very unlucky not to go through, actually purely in scoring terms he scored more (42%) than two cellists who have gone through on 40%.  Basically there were 7 cellists on a level, with only 2 places available - on a different day with a different breakfast inside me - or wearing different underpants - I might have selected them differently.  Tortelier though was one of only 3 out of 30 to attract no 'Yes' votes at all, and on that basis I felt it was reasonable to put him out.
I well remember his televised Bach masterclasses - they were great viewing (and good promotion for his box set of LPs).

Thanks for the round 1 vote Jay F - I should have made it clearer that I'm looking for a ranking from now on, 1 to 6 - but I'll interpret your vote as a 1=1>3=3>5=5 - unless you want to come back with a more specific order.

The plan by the way is to reduce these remaining 18 to 10, so that round 2 when we get there, will be 2 groups of 5.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on February 08, 2015, 10:05:22 PM
Thanks for the round 1 vote Jay F - I should have made it clearer that I'm looking for a ranking from now on, 1 to 6 - but I'll interpret your vote as a 1=1>3=3>5=5 - unless you want to come back with a more specific order.
1. D5
2. D3
3. D2
4. D4
5. D1
6. D6
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 09, 2015, 02:00:51 AM
Thaks Jay F - crikey, that's put the cat among the pigeons!  :o
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 09, 2015, 02:09:45 AM
D1: Slow start where I’m about to say: Nay… but then, Hello! Amazing way of catching the wave.
I love it.

Another outrageously slow beginning… Too maintained slow… and lots of sniffing and runny-nose noises… and excited moans at his own playing… The rest doesn’t come up to the same level at all… Still, I want to hear more of it.

Tepid YES.


D2: Senseless race toward proving what exactly? Fast is not necessarily exciting. It’s impressive, but not exciting.

Negative OK.


D3: I like it without it striking me as superb at first. Resonant… but actually, in its’ neither offensive nor awesome way, it’s quite regal, quite beautiful, noble… unconcerned… an island unto its own. And that I like very, very much.

Solid YES.


D4: Mildly tubby… cello is put into the forefront… Mastery of the instrument over insight. Elegant lithe tone, to put it more positively. Overly vigorous…

Indifferent NO.


D5: Individual. Pitch gives away the HIPster. Elegant like the above but with something to say. Flew by me on the first few listenings, but that’s probably because of the listening of so much before that. Slows down to a point where I lose interest. It comes around, anyway. Also, it’s well past my bedtime. More listening tomorrow. Like the Polyphonic element the player gets going…

I could see myself really enjoying this for the long line and for the long ride – rather than being necessarily impressed or wowed by any particular moment. Something I can’t quite say for D4 but certainly something I could see happen with D3, also. I continue to find myself listening up and thinking: I hope I didn’t rate the performance I am listening to right now as glib, earlier… because I kind of like it. Then I come back and am glad to see it’s D5 which I had already started to appreciate.

Solid YES.

D6: steady in a way that I quite like… this one makes me take note in the way D5 didn’t. Not that I paid great attention.

Positive OK



1 D3 & D5
3 D1
4 D6
5 D2
6 D4
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 09, 2015, 03:00:52 PM
Thanks - I must listen again for those "runny-nose noises… and excited moans".   ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 12, 2015, 01:39:57 AM
Any more votes coming in? Or any more groups to listen to?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 12, 2015, 01:53:11 AM
No just the 2 votes in Group D so far.  Basically we have 5 voters per group, no point really in setting a deadline yet.
I'll PM you the links for group F - which judging by your vote, will be more to your taste than group E would be.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on February 12, 2015, 03:55:38 AM
Just really busy lately. As soon as I have a chance, I will listen.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on February 12, 2015, 05:11:23 AM
F6>F5>F2>F3>F1>F4
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 13, 2015, 01:47:10 AM
No just the 2 votes in Group D so far.  Basically we have 5 voters per group, no point really in setting a deadline yet.
I'll PM you the links for group F - which judging by your vote, will be more to your taste than group E would be.

I really don't mind listening to recordings I really don't like.  ;)

Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on February 14, 2015, 08:06:02 AM
E2>E5>E4>E3>E6>E1
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 14, 2015, 12:16:17 PM
Thanks mszczuj and (: premont : )
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on February 15, 2015, 01:29:48 AM
E1=E6>E4=E5>E3=E2
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 15, 2015, 05:52:07 PM
F1 Indeed… likey very much! Noblesse moderne. Very right throughout. Right amount of letting the music speak for itself but also not just noodling the notes.

F2 Impresses with its light and flexible touch… very different than the much grander statement of non-HIP F1, but Boy is this elegant! I love it in the first two minutes.

F3 flew by. [see below]

F4 starts whiney… needly. But at least it calls attention to itself and not in the worst of manners. Still, the tone doesn’t get better and while, if this were a violinist doing the Sonatas & Partitas, I’d say: leathery tone; nicely accentuates the edges of the work and the graggy bits… (or just outright guess: Milstein II), here I’m not so inclined… maybe the Cello Suites are not for the viola, after all. I don’t dislike it. But I don’t warm to it, either. Perhaps it’s a good antidote to the tone I’m …. Am I hearing lorries drive by in the background? Yes, I do.  Must be recorded in a church. In Berlin.

F5 has unnecessary eccentricities and a slow tempo in the Sarabande that doesn’t sit well with me. BORING. Next please. I’ve heard a favorite cellist (PW) of mine play this once for an encore [ed.: ...JUST LIKE THAT]… The light and accentuated Minuet, very nice, doesn’t mollify me enough at this point.

F3 Again. I know now why it flew buy: Because the Prelude is fast and leaves no track in the sand. It sounds cocky, actually. Barefoot, long hair, and with a swagger. Able, very able… but glib. That very sudden, negative attitude is ameliorated considerably by the Sarabande which has more seriousness and purpose. But then the mind drifts away again… HIP but with oomph.

F5 Again. Relistening to the Prelude. I like the life injected into this. Still, the cellist feels quite at liberty to do whatever he wants the fragilicity to do… but hey, why not. I like whatshisname, don’t I? So why wouldn’t I like this. I’m bracing myself for the Sarabande a second time, granted, but we’ll see. Well, past the Sarabande I like this again. I don’t know how much that sample would influence my appreciation of the whole set, since it’d be a much smaller percentage of the over-all impression… but I judge on this sample size and therefore F5 cannot take a top spot. On the other hand I’m afraid to toss out something that I quite like… so it shan’t get a vote that might help eliminate it. Only the second non-HIPster in this group

F6 Ah!! I may re-shuffle my list again to make room further up for F6. I like the first two minutes… reminds me of F1 (memory from last night). HIP… on second hearing not THAT interesting…


1 __ F2 & F1
3 __ F6 & F5
5 __ F4
6 __ F3

or maybe

1 __ F2 & F1
3 __ F5
4 __ F6
5 __ F4
6 __ F3

Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 16, 2015, 02:00:13 AM
Thanks both and thanks for your comments jlaurson - a very interesting read.  C'mon folks, more comments, lets liven this up a little!

With just 2 votes per group in, F4 looks doomed and D4, D6, E3 and F3 are all badly in need of some support.  Big names, some of them.
But 8 have to go, so almost no-one is safe - D3, D5, F2 and F6 are the front runners so far - all rather surprising, to me.

…. Am I hearing lorries drive by in the background? Yes, I do.  Must be recorded in a church. In Berlin.

Wasn't it the Kingsway Hall in London which was a favourite recording venue back in the 60s and 70s, where reviewers sometimes commented on the sound of tube trains rumbling past.  Of course with longer takes, and with trains every 2 minutes or so, you can see the difficulty (though the tunnels are very deep in that part of London).  Really of course it was just a way for the reviewer to say "what big loudspeakers I've got".

... I’m bracing myself for the Sarabande a second time, granted, but we’ll see. Well, past the Sarabande I like this again. I don’t know how much that sample would influence my appreciation of the whole set, since it’d be a much smaller percentage of the over-all impression…

It's a point I have been thinking about, when planning round 2.  Overall the slow movements are 1/3 of the total (though rather more than that by duration) - so arguably they shouldn't carry too much weight in the blind comparison, but should have some bearing.  I must say they get a bit tedious when listening to 6 in a row ...
My plan for round 2 was to present (most of) Suite 6 - including two slow movements that both have significant points for comparison.  I'm beginning to think this will be too much, and will probably revise my ideas and only include the Allemande.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on February 21, 2015, 07:48:25 PM
Ok, round 2...er...1...:) (With only brief comments)

E1 - Excellent. Brilliant. I loved this from the first note. The performer has a depth of sound and interpretation. Occassionally seems a hair flat. But wonderful interpretation. 
E2 - Also well done, but colder, like an autumn outing. Where E1 is immediate and resonates, this one is less accesable. Slower sections seem to lose tension.
E3 - Older sound. More immediate than E2 and more nuance too. But some notes seem like afterthoughts. It doesn't lose the line like E2 sometimes seemed to do (lost me anyway).
E4 - Interesting. But too resonant for me. Shame, because it is well played. Seems to take more liberties with tempo. More sqwauking than I like. Still, the performer grabs you.
E5 - First since E1 to generate some real excitement. Some brilliant touches. Doesn't have quite that extra quality in E1, but some great playing here (and in some ways better control of the sound/intonation).
E6 - Hmm. I find this sound irritating for some reason - too bright, with too many pitch problems. More mechanical approach. Didn't gel with this one, but it's not poorly played.

Tough one. I think E1 is brilliant, but there was something about E5 that touched me. I suspect if one were to hear the whole thing, I'd pick E1 all the way, but I found E5 compelling, and so into first it goes. E1 grabs you from the first note and doesn't let go. E5 sort of gets under your skin. I will be getting both no matter the result (If I donn't already own them). They are that good.

Ranks:
1 E5
2 E1
3 E4
4 E6
5 E3
6 E2

Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 22, 2015, 03:20:28 AM
Thanks for your vote and comments.
Strange group, E - two performances have each attracted a '1st' and 'last' - while another has been consistently placed 3rd by everyone.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on February 22, 2015, 05:18:05 AM
Thanks for your vote and comments.
Strange group, E - two performances have each attracted a '1st' and 'last' - while another has been consistently placed 3rd by everyone.

A few added comments to my votes above.

E1 (former B7 I suppose) tons of added embellishment and passing notes in the repeats. Certainly a hit or miss. In my case a miss. I suspect it is Lipkind.

E2 (former B10 ?) Noble and informed interpretation. Sounds in some way French, can´t tell whom, but it reminds me of someone like Philippe Muller or Anne Gastinel.

E3 (former B 2?) Casals, I suspect, good, but better has been done.

E4 (former B5)  Sigiswald Kuijken on spalla.

E5 (former B1?) imaginative playing full of life, probably Queyras or someone alike

E6 (the one added to group B to form group E?) A not too interesting interpretation by a player from the older generation, but the recording is somewhat newer, might be e.g. Janigro or Navarra.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 22, 2015, 02:03:16 PM
I'll need more time. With the friggin' soundcard on my computer, all but one sound like Heinrich Schiff, which is a nightmare. I'll be with my DAC / amp combo on Thursday. Early enough?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on February 22, 2015, 02:49:29 PM
I am new to the forum and have just caught up with this thread. I find it very interesting and intend to follow it through to its conclusion. I know that these things are very subjective but there are some really interesting results here. Starker would be one of my favourites but I was never fond of Rostropovich.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 23, 2015, 01:04:57 AM
Thursday will be fine - we can't really move on with less than 4 votes per group, and we're well short of that at the moment so I expect it to be a couple of weeks yet.

Thanks for your comments premont, and yes your alignment of E-group to B-group was spot on.  I don't really see any need to hide the history of each contender so ...
D1 was C5, D2~A1, D3~A10, D4~A5, D5~A8, D6~A3
E1 was B7, E2~B10, E3~B2, E4~B5, E5~B1, E6~C2
F1 was C7, F2~C6, F3~C10, F4~C3, F5~C1, F6~C8
and when we do get to the next round I'll make the history known for the 10 remaining, from the outset.

aligreto just let me know if you want to take part in the listening and I'll send you the links by PM - I'm still very short of votes so you'd be more than welcome to join in - but if not of course you're equally welcome as an onlooker  ;)
(There are 6 cellists in a group and each sample is around 13 minutes long - so less than 1h30 in total, to listen to)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on February 23, 2015, 10:16:37 AM

F1 was C7, F2~C6, F3~C10, F4~C3, F5~C1, F6~C8


So at least I rejected the same interpretation I had rejected in the preliminary round.

It was very pity for me that interpretation which was on the very top in my list of wishes, I mean Cocset, was eliminated for some very irrelevant reasons. Hey people, you should buy some better equipment  if some reverb or some breath make music unlistaneble for you! You can do it on ebay for ca 300$, I think. There is a lot of great music you have no chance to listen.

But then we don't know what was the C5 (which I choose to listen) and C2 (which I rejected).
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on February 23, 2015, 12:13:48 PM

aligreto just let me know if you want to take part in the listening and I'll send you the links by PM - I'm still very short of votes so you'd be more than welcome to join in - but if not of course you're equally welcome as an onlooker  ;)
(There are 6 cellists in a group and each sample is around 13 minutes long - so less than 1h30 in total, to listen to)

If I am not too late then I would certainly like to join in. Send me the lonks please at your leisure.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on February 24, 2015, 02:39:16 AM
PM sent, welcome aboard.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jo498 on February 24, 2015, 03:04:44 AM
I'll give a ranking of group f tonight, sorry for the delay.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jo498 on February 24, 2015, 01:20:20 PM
F1 o.k. but not very special

F 2 quite intense, rhetoric without being too exaggerated

F 3 also quite good while less intense

F4 viola (or sth higher pitched than cello anyway) quite good but because of the higher pitch somewhat straining

F5 strange mannerisms in the prelude and everywhere, sound also not always pleasant. wild rubato. Don't like this one

F6 very fast and "light" prelude, quite energetic. Also good in the d minor suite

F6
F2
F3
F4
F1
F5
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on February 24, 2015, 01:51:52 PM
PM sent, welcome aboard.

Thank you. I will check out the links and report back asap.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on February 25, 2015, 12:48:59 PM
In order of preference....

1 - D6

2 - D1

3 - D5

4 - D3

5 - D4

6 - D2
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on February 28, 2015, 01:38:28 PM
E1: I feel like I’m sitting inside the cello, and the cello inside a bathtub or the bottom of a bottle. Well played but without distinction and acoustically displeasing by offering just too bloody much. Outrageously exaggerated trill somewhere in the Sarabande…

OK. A WORLD of DIFFERENCE, on proper equipment! We ought to throw any and all judgments I made without using the DAC.

Sarabande trill still there… and not quite as nice here, or captivating, than in the Prelude. Still good stuff, though. Rank 2


E2: Same. I really must not listen via this soundcard on the stupid computer. The boom of a Stradivari cello with the acoustic of a small public swimming hall. Makes EVERYTHING sound like it’s bloody Heinrich Schiff. I can’t distinguish anything with this shit… except pitch.

A bit heavy on the breathing here. Very heavy. Kind of disturbing, actually. Busy, not actually very fast. Sonically a happy medium between super-boomy / resonant and dry. Cello not too umphish… which is nice… but ultimately not enough personality to really rock my boat. Rank: 5


E3: Eeeeww. Old and ugly recording. I mean… thanks for rediscovering the score and all… and important and worthy and admirable. But it would be absurd to recommend  this as anything but a curiosity-item, today. Still better-sounding than the Harnoncourt recording, though.  Rank: 6


E4: Back in the tub and worse than ever, it seems. I kind of like the racing stripes that are being attached to the Prelude. A bit much, yes… but fun.

YES. NOW we are in the tub, indeed. Very resonant, in any case. Not as appalling anymore, now that the appropriate equipment has given it some space and distant that allows a fine tone to come out, with a slender quality (“Greek Maiden”). A bit fast, but not glib… I am reacting actually quite positively to it. Sarabande, as so often, becomes a little tedious after six to ten runs through it. Rank 3


E5: Tubbing. It’s as if it didn’t matter what I listened today, it all sounds like crap… and I can’t even concentrate on the

Now this sounds regal and large and gorgeous… I love the opening rhythm of the bass line. Accented and driving, not droning. Impresses with the first notes. Consistently awakens me out of my slumber with the Prelude for doing everything as I like it. Rank 1


E6: Not quite to my taste. Simply noodling along. Certainly after E5. Not competitive on intonation or tone.

Rank: 4


E1: 2
E2: 5
E3: 6
E4: 3
E5: 1
E6: 4

or:

E5: 1
E1: 2
E4: 3
E6: 4
E2: 5
E3: 6
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on February 28, 2015, 03:13:02 PM
Okay, finally ready to record my vote.

F4 in first place
F6 in second
(Considerable gap here, those two stood out well above the rest)

F5 in third
F2 in fourth
F3 in fifth
F1 in sixth

I must admit that heavy breathing and aleatory percussion with the bow had a negative impact.  Perhaps some of these recordings were too closely miked.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 01, 2015, 03:03:13 AM
OK thanks everyone for the recent flurry of votes. 
With 4 votes in for two of the groups I feel nearly ready to move on.  8 recordings will be eliminated and 6 of those seem clear now.
I really need at least one more voter for Group D though - and it might help to speed things along if I could ask for a volunteer to take it on as a 2nd group.  In the meantime of course lines are still open for further votes on all three groups - will no-one come off the fence about E4? -  ;) - 4 votes, 4 3rd places - oh well, maybe in the next round ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on March 01, 2015, 03:22:11 AM
OK thanks everyone for the recent flurry of votes. 
With 4 votes in for two of the groups I feel nearly ready to move on.  8 recordings will be eliminated and 6 of those seem clear now.
I really need at least one more voter for Group D though - and it might help to speed things along if I could ask for a volunteer to take it on as a 2nd group.  In the meantime of course lines are still open for further votes on all three groups - will no-one come off the fence about E4? -  ;) - 4 votes, 4 3rd places - oh well, maybe in the next round ...

As a late comer to this I have yet to vote in round E so if you can send me the links at your leisure perhaps my vote can help to nudge it along.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 01, 2015, 04:22:12 AM
i can do group D
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 01, 2015, 05:18:55 AM
i can do group D

So can I.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 01, 2015, 09:41:03 AM
OK thanks everyone for the recent flurry of votes. 
With 4 votes in for two of the groups I feel nearly ready to move on.  8 recordings will be eliminated and 6 of those seem clear now.
I really need at least one more voter for Group D though - and it might help to speed things along if I could ask for a volunteer to take it on as a 2nd group.  In the meantime of course lines are still open for further votes on all three groups - will no-one come off the fence about E4? -  ;) - 4 votes, 4 3rd places - oh well, maybe in the next round ...

I've listened to E1-4 and can do the other 2 by tomorrow.

EDIT: I was mistaken. I had only listened to the first three -- but I got the other three today.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 01, 2015, 10:50:26 AM
Thanks Pat.  I look forward to it.
PMs sent to xochitl and aligreto.
E4 already has enough cred to go through even if someone now places it last - I just think its rather remarkable that in general, rankings are all over the place, but this one version seems to have cornered the 'not great, but not bad either' vote.
jlaurson you've already voted on group D!!  ::)  but thanks anyway  :D
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 02, 2015, 02:47:39 AM
in order of preference

D5 - an angel came down with a heavenly cello, someone asked him if he knew bach and he replied "oh sure, he's pretty popular up there with the musicians, on saturdays we all hang out with ol johann s and play some tunes...actually, one of his is a favorite of mine" and proceeded to play the suites, to the amazement of all. fortunately for us someone recorded it for posterity. seriously! my life just improved from hearing this performance. nuff said (actually, II gigue was not at the level of the other clips -that would be 'best everrr', but still...). immediately searched spotify in desperation for a match, without luck :(

D1 - romantic and heavy, but it feels so micro-thought-out and delineated like it's been fully absorbed into the performer so i was totally engrossed instead of annoyed/disgusted. the phrasing was stunning (it's like EVERY SINGLE NOTE MATTERS!!!!FFS, not only that, but every note takes you to the next one with absolute inevitability), the sound itself is close to my ideal of what a cello should sound like: pinpoint intonation, trills that sing and dance, slightly dark but even and full across the range but with an edge. one of the greatest III preludes ive ever heard. definitely wanna know who this is.

D6 - solid in every way, but not very inspiring

D2 - so that was...strange. nimble but choppy, stuttery. dry as a bone. and kind of ugly.

D3 - elegant, (boring) MOR and unappealingly growly. fine sarabande but not enough to save it.

D4 - no
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 02, 2015, 09:06:07 AM
D4 - no

No?  Well I must say I'm shocked  ;) - making this recording the only one out of all 18, to be placed plumb last by two listeners.  And I had money on it to make the final 4 ...  :-[

Well that was quick, thanks for that, interesting comments too.  D5 is my perfect 'late night listening' version!

Right, voting on this round will close at the end of Wednesday, just in case there's anyone halfway through listening, please try to post your votes by then.
I'll post details of the 8 to be eliminated, a few hours after that. 
Pending any late voting upsets, it looks as though 2 firm GMG favourites are on their way out, along with two others that are highly respected, and an acknowledged classic recording.   4 of the 8 were placed 1st in group once, but last or nearly-last by everyone else.
One non-cello recording will go - though only just, as the highest scorer to be eliminated - but the other two did rather well in this round.

Round 2 will consist of 2 groups of 5.  The music will be Suite 6, the Prelude, Allemande, Courante and Gavottes.  A total of around 20 minutes though there are some wide variations in choice of tempi, especially in the Allemande. 
The final when we get to it will be 4 recordings (or possibly 5 if the voting is tight), of Suite 5.

Please let me know if you want to receive links for Round 2 - you can just mention it while commenting on the results later in the week, that'll be fine.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 02, 2015, 10:20:20 AM

E1 Reverby. Kinda slow. Slip at 1:12. Not wild about 1:30-1:40 exaggerated style. Nice ornamentations at 2:25 then has to rush to catch up a la B7. I don't like the harsh C-string sound at 2:38. What was that at 3:14? Is that supposed to be ar ornament? Note to performers: don't make your ornaments sound like flubs. Weird portamento at 4:07. Another weird thing at 6:00-6:03. I endured this to 9:20 and then stopped. This must be B7. How did we eliminate half of group B but not this one? After listening to the others, I went back and listened to the Gigue of this one, and I like the style more (it's on the dancier side, which didn't come across at all in the dirge-like Sarabande) but there are just too many WTF moments.

E2 Distant recording. SLOW. Played like a recital, not a dance. Of course some people like that but to me it's more solemn than I prefer in this music.

E3 Very abrupt acoustic change from E2 especially with the bold opening attack. Acoustic is strange but the C-string sound is nice and full. Again more recital than dance but more dramatic than E2. Probably B2. If so, I like it a bit better this time around but not by a lot.

E4 I listened to this last. It must be the spalla one. It's very good but some of the emphases are overly exaggerated as sometimes happens in the HIP world. Some interesting spiccato arpeggios 1:30-1:50 that really let me hear it differently.

E5 The Prelude and Saraband seemed good but not top-rank but the Minuets and Gigue were superb. Probably best C-string sound throughout. I really love 10:50-11:10. First listen had E4 out of order, but re-listening in normal order the fullness of tone is striking.

E6 recording is on the close side without the dry "practice room" feel. I like this, it's expressive but not in a Romanticized way. Emphases are made with dynamics more than agogics. Nice subtle ornamentation. Drawback is the Minuet I which starts out sounding a bit like a march (that happened on an eliminated performance in round 1 but I found it less effective here).

Ranking:
#1 E5
#2 (tie) E4, E6
#4 E3
#6 (tie) E1, E2
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 02, 2015, 04:35:25 PM
well this is embarassing! so it seems that last night i was listening with a weird EQ setting that cut half the bass frequencies by 10db and spiked different parts of the treble and this being cello, i think it was quite relevant in my perceptions, especially the sound of period instruments (they sounded hollow and horrible). so after re-listening, a slightly altered order of preference
D5>D1=D2>D4=D3=D6
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 03, 2015, 02:18:33 AM
Wow, your slight demotion of D6 (from 3rd to 4th) has put it in grave danger!
And Pat's vote and comments (thanks) has saved a GMG favourite.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: banpuku on March 03, 2015, 02:14:00 PM
Please add me to the list
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 04, 2015, 01:14:16 AM
Will do, links for the next round will be PM'd on Friday or Saturday, provided there are enough people 'in' - really needs at least 10 to make it viable.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 04, 2015, 01:47:26 PM
Will do, links for the next round will be PM'd on Friday or Saturday, provided there are enough people 'in' - really needs at least 10 to make it viable.

I very much look forward to receive the links for the second round (and to see, which ones were excluded in the first round :)).
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on March 04, 2015, 07:17:30 PM
I very much look forward to receive the links for the second round (and to see, which ones were excluded in the first round :)).

Ditto.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 05, 2015, 02:01:10 AM
Round 1 fallers:
Just taking the top 10 scorers gave me a problem, because there was a tie for 10th, impossible to separate.  Various solutions (take 12 instead of 10, take 8 instead of 10, run a lightning tie-break round) didn't appeal.
So instead, to retain 10 from 3 groups of 6, I simply took the top 3 from each group making 9, and then added the single highest scorer from the rest.  Here are the 8 that didn't make the cut.

E3 (27% ... never placed higher than 4th by any voter)
"More immediate than E2 and more nuance too."
"absurd to recommend this as anything but a curiosity-item, today"
"good, but better has been done."

E3 (was B2) was

...
of course
...

Pablo Casals
(http://www.aukadia.net/pix/casals.jpg)
Plumb last of the 18 on test, and to be honest he only just squeaked through on a coin-toss from the previous round (at the expense of Zelenka, one of my personal favourites).
This is the Pristine remastering  Pristine (https://www.pristineclassical.com/pacm074.html)  of the ground-breaking recordings made in the late '30s.  It does manage to sound like a bluebottle in a jamjar  ???.  The performances are well worth hearing on their own merit, so all I can say is - other transfers are available!



D4 (29% ... the only one to be placed last by 2 voters)
"Mildly tubby"
"Mastery of the instrument over insight"

D4 (was A5) was

...

Anner Bylsma (first recording)


This is one I hoped might go all the way to the final, but sadly not.  When I first heard it (on the radio, shortly after it was released) it awakened my interest in Bach and HIP-style performance, so I'm very fond of it.
Not to be confused with the more commonly-available 2nd recording (which was quite rightly eliminated in the Prologue) - both are on Sony but this 1st recording may be harder to find, look out for it on the 'Essential Classics' label.



E2 (30% ... one person gave this 1st place, otherwise it came 5th or last)
"Played like a recital, not a dance."
"well done, but colder, like an autumn outing"

E2 (was B10) was

...

Jaap ter Linden (on Brilliant)


Liked in the Prologue, and liked in the GMG Cello Suites thread, but a faller here, despite being in Group E which I felt was marginally weaker overall than the other two groups.



F1 (33% ... one person gave this 1st place, otherwise it came 5th or last)
"Noblesse moderne."
F1 (was C7) was

...

Ophélie Gaillard (2nd recording)


A firm GMG favourite (though maybe more for her 1st recording?) falls at this hurdle.  Joint last in her group.  And I'm not too keen on the way she's mistreating her cello - she appears to be taking it to bed with her!



F3 (33%)
"Able, very able… but glib."
F3 (was C10) was

...

Truls Mørk


Someone else who ought to be taking better care of his instrument.  Scored a perfect 100% in the Prologue (which surprised me a bit), but the same group of listeners placed him joint last in the group this time.
This is another recording that had a big effect on me - up to this point, I only had two recordings of the Cello Suites - Tortelier and Bylsma. Mørk totally opened the door for me, and I started to listen around to lots of different approaches, enjoying them all.

3 to follow, in my next post ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 05, 2015, 02:22:40 AM
The other 3 fallers ...

F4 (42% ... including one 1st place.)
"maybe the Cello Suites are not for the viola, after all"
"quite good but because of the higher pitch somewhat straining"

F4 (was C3) was

...

Patricia McCarty


CD probably hard to find but this is also available from Amazon as downloads.
A decent showing in this round, but the first of the non-cellos to be kicked out.  There are several other viola sets around - Rysanov for example.  For those who didn't like listening to the Cello suites played at a higher pitch, how about going the other way - there is also at least one complete set available on double bass.  The part-set (suites 2, 1, 5) by Edgar Meyer is, I think, superb.  I offer here a sample, the Courante from Suite 5 played on double bass by Meyer.
Courante (zipped mp3 file) (http://www.mediafire.com/download/1bggt6bkcs53qra/meyer_sample.zip) - NB this linked file will be removed after 2 weeks.


D2 (42% ..)
"nimble but choppy, stuttery. dry as a bone. and kind of ugly."
"Senseless race toward proving what exactly?"

D2 (was A1) was

...

Vito Paternoster
(http://www.aukadia.net/pix/paternoster.jpg)
(very hard to find as CD, but it is available as a download)
Vito did very well in the preliminary round, 3rd best overall, but his very speedy treatment of the Prelude did not go down at all well here.  I think it's rather thrilling, but I agree perhaps a bit unnecessary.
As well as this version of the Cello Suites, Paternoster is notable for having recorded all the solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas, transcribed for cello.  In his hands these make a great addition to the Bach cello repertoire, and although his technique sounds a bit stressed in places, I think these recordings are very recommendable to anyone who loves the Suites.  Only available (from Amazon) as downloads, I think.
In case you haven't heard this, here's a short and thunderous extract - about 3 minutes - from the great Partita 2 Chaconne.
Chaconne extract (zipped mp3 file) (http://www.mediafire.com/download/ql3j5y5rocrx4t6/paternoster_sample.zip) - NB this linked file will be removed after 2 weeks.
Bylsma has also recorded Sonata 2 and Partita 3, along with BVW 1013 which I think was a sonata written for flute.  It's a shame he hasn't tackled the rest.
Paternoster has also recorded BVW 1013, in a mixed recital collection.


D6 (50% ...)
"solid in every way, but not very inspiring"
D6 (was A3) was

...
very unlucky to get knocked out
...

Paolo Beschi


The unluckiest of the fallers, after showing strongly in the Prologue this GMG favourite looked like a potential finalist.  However he placed 4th in what turned out to be a strong group, and was squeezed out by another 4th-placer who scored 57% (and who incidentally has not a cat's chance of making the final).  A bad day at the office, Paolo, I'm sorry you had to go.

=========================================
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 05, 2015, 09:08:18 AM
I'm waiting impatiently for the second round. But I still want to know who was the C2 and C5 players not qualified for the first round.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 05, 2015, 09:27:51 AM
[^^^ Results are published upthread ^^^]

Well they're both still in, and as it happens they're assigned to different groups next round.  You can let me know which of them you really really wnat to hear again and I shall make it so.  ;)

Though I might add - be careful what you wish for ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 05, 2015, 09:48:42 AM
[^^^ Results are published upthread ^^^]

Well they're both still in, and as it happens they're assigned to different groups next round.  You can let me know which of them you really really wnat to hear again and I shall make it so.  ;)

Though I might add - be careful what you wish for ...

Oh, I didn't understand. I thought C group players were in F group, and these two were missing. So do as you think will be the best. (But I wasn't very fond of C2.)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 05, 2015, 10:05:28 AM
Well, every version I own has now been eliminated (Bylsma 1979, Starker/Mercury, Casals, Rostropovich).

Bylsma is the one that surprises me.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 05, 2015, 10:43:17 AM
Well, every version I own has now been eliminated (Bylsma 1979, Starker/Mercury, Casals, Rostropovich).

Bylsma is the one that surprises me.

Let me put it the other way round:
I own all the eliminated versions except one (Wispelwey III), but I suppose, that I also own some of the not-eliminated versions.
Time will show.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 05, 2015, 12:02:02 PM
Let me put it the other way round:
I own all the eliminated versions except one (Wispelwey III), but I suppose, that I also own some of the not-eliminated versions.
Time will show.

Wouldn't shock me if you have all of them. ;)

I guess Beschi is a surprise too. I've only heard samples of this recording (which I liked enough to mark "next in line") but it is certainly a favorite around here.

Breakdown of Group E (5 voters): E5 was in everybody's upper half (well, xochitl had it tied for 3rd) and got 3 first-place votes. E4 was also in everybody's upper half but with no first places -- I'm thinking this might be as good as it gets for an alternate instrument. Casals was in everybody's lower half.

The others had less of a consensus. ter Linden was premont's top choice, but the rest of us had him in 5th or 6th. E6 ranged from tied for 1st to 5th. E1 was very controversial (again): premont and I put it at the bottom (again) but the other 3 put it in the top 2.

I really liked B1-E5 in round 0 also, so hopefully it's an easily-obtainable version.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 05, 2015, 01:18:56 PM
Well, every version I own has now been eliminated (Bylsma 1979, Starker/Mercury, Casals, Rostropovich).

Bylsma is the one that surprises me.

I was going to say: "Funny, I own none of the eliminated versions."

But then I realized, that's not quite true.

I have Rostropovich and Casals (which was my first, EMI [in two versions, even, I just found out), I probably have Jaap ter Linden in the Brilliant Bach box, I have Isserlis and Beschi (which I'm surprised to see having fallen by the wayside); I probably have one of the Yo-Yos. I don't think I have the Starker and I know I have neither Bylsma. Not sure if Isang Enders is laying about somewhere of if I've only seen it in a release-sheet.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 05, 2015, 02:52:12 PM
I have Rostropovich and Casals (which was my first, EMI [in two versions, even, I just found out), I probably have Jaap ter Linden in the Brilliant Bach box, I have Isserlis and Beschi (which I'm surprised to see having fallen by the wayside); I probably have one of the Yo-Yos. I don't think I have the Starker and I know I have neither Bylsma. Not sure if Isang Enders is laying about somewhere of if I've only seen it in a release-sheet.

Rostropovich was my first (back in my Penguin-reading days), and for many years only. I did not imprint on it, but it probably delayed my appreciation of the music.

A couple years ago I did some extensive sampling. I didn't expect Bylsma to contend. I had previously heard his second recording, and was not especially fond of it. (It's telling that so much of the discussion of it centers around the instrument.) But his first recording is the one I ended up choosing.

The other two I didn't really seek out. Starker came as part of the first Living Presence box, and I found Casals cheap locally.

There are a few on my consider-buying list (including, IIRC, your favorite). Beschi is the only one of those to be eliminated yet.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Ken B on March 05, 2015, 03:04:54 PM



Bylsma is the one that surprises me.

New to GMG are we?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 05, 2015, 03:26:33 PM
New to GMG are we?

Huh? That recording has fans here (aside from myself). I'd say the same for Bylsma in general.

ETA: or do you just mean that somebody else's group eliminated a great recording?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 05, 2015, 04:05:40 PM
Oh, I didn't understand. I thought C group players were in F group, and these two were missing.

To be clear - C2 became E6 and will go through as G1.  C5 became D1 and will go through as H3.

I own all the eliminated versions except one (Wispelwey III), but I suppose, that I also own some of the not-eliminated versions.

And maybe several that were not incuded at all.  Don't forget that the original pool was 30 recordings, and there must be around 100 out there in total.  There are certainly at least a dozen 'name' recordings that were not included yet may well be on a par with many of the 10 which are left in.

As for Beschi - well personally I'm very sorry he's gone.  I really thought he was nailed-on for a place in the final 4, and I feel sure he would have done well in Suite 6 (next round) and Suite 5 (final).  He just seems to have had an off-day in the particular pieces that were sampled (3/1, 4/3-4-5).  The same must be true of Bylsma(1) and to a lesser extent, Gaillard and ter Linden.

But that's the nature of a knock-out format - like the FA Cup - it's always possible for a 2nd-rank player to win through - if losing Beschi at this stage is unacceptable (and it borderline is!) then maybe it's the contest itself which is at fault.

Anyhoo - it's midnight (or it was) here near the Greenwich meridian, so I'm off to bed, g'night all, see you tomorrow  ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 05, 2015, 05:19:42 PM
- if losing Beschi at this stage is unacceptable (and it borderline is!) then maybe it's the contest itself which is at fault.


Wondering if including different selections (i.e. Group A also has to listen to the cellists of Group B, but in different excerpts) could broaden the scope. Would mean more listening-time spent, but still not as much as making everyone hear everything.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 05, 2015, 06:19:35 PM
so far this reinforces my notion that almost any cycle ive listened to has moments (movements, or even whole suites) i dont care for in the hands of a particlar performer while the same recording can have some of my favorites. i'm looking at you: Fournier!

it is a bit of an extremely interesting crapshoot
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Ken B on March 05, 2015, 06:31:14 PM
Huh? That recording has fans here (aside from myself). I'd say the same for Bylsma in general.

ETA: or do you just mean that somebody else's group eliminated a great recording?

Some GMG comparisons seem more deaf than blind.  😀
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 05, 2015, 07:02:48 PM
Some GMG comparisons seem more deaf than blind.  😀
What do you mean by that?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on March 05, 2015, 07:06:27 PM
Since I voted F4 in first, I should be more interested in viola versions than I actually am...
Of the versions voted off the island, I have Casals, Starker, Ma, and not sure about Bylsma.  The only one of the three I regret not advancing is Casals.

Well, on to the next round of victims!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 06, 2015, 03:21:17 PM
And maybe several that were not incuded at all.  Don't forget that the original pool was 30 recordings, and there must be around 100 out there in total.  There are certainly at least a dozen 'name' recordings that were not included yet may well be on a par with many of the 10 which are left in.

Well. I can mention at least 50 versions which are on par with the best of the versions which were excluded.

I suppose, that most of the 10, which were not excluded, are among them.

Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 06, 2015, 03:27:54 PM
Wouldn't shock me if you have all of them. ;)

Wouldn´t shock me either.   :-X


Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 07, 2015, 02:57:54 AM
PMs with links for round 2 have been sent to:
Jeffrey Smith;  Jo498;  Jay F;  mc ukrneal;  :premont:   xochitl;
jlaurson;   aligreto;  Pat B;  mszczuj;  banpuku

ie, anyone who voted in the last round, plus one new member.

If anyone else would like to participate you'll be more than welcome, just let me know.

[edited to add -
This is the previous history of the 10 remaining recordings - whited out in case you prefer to play completely blind:
G1 was E6/C2:   G2 was D5/A8:   G3 was F6/C8:   G4 was F2/C6:   G5 was E1/B7:
H1 was F5/C1:     H2 was E5/B1:   H3 was D1/C5:   H4 was D3/A10:  H5 was E4/B5:
===
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: banpuku on March 07, 2015, 05:06:49 AM
Here are my rankings from Group 2:

4
2
1
3
5

While I did not hear group 1, I will say that the #4 from Group 2 is worthy of consideration as a finalist.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 07, 2015, 06:30:05 AM
Here are my rankings from Group 2:

4
2
1
3
5

While I did not hear group 1, I will say that the #4 from Group 2 is worthy of consideration as a finalist.
Wow! That was fast!! :) 

By Group '#2' do you mean group H?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 07, 2015, 07:40:57 AM
It's said that Houdini used to do his escapes in a matter of seconds, but then just kick and scuffle around in the cabinet for 5 minutes for effect, before emerging to tumultuous applause.
I occasionally feel that experienced GMG blind testers use a similar technique  ;)

Thanks banpuku that's a great start, you can sit back and relax for a month now  ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 07, 2015, 11:00:26 AM
Votes Group G

G1  A rather conservative interpretation from a player of the older (or maybe deceased) generation, made in his prime or shortly afterwards. My former guess (E6 = G1) was Navarra, but the sixth suite reveals, that the player is far more technically assured than Navarra, so I now tend to say Fournier.

G2  Viola da gamba and Paolo Pandolfo´s willful style. Original and interesting, but these works were written for cello.

G3  This recording has the character of being made by a young informed but carefree virtuoso. There are many of these nowadays, names like Daniel Müller-Schott and Jerome Pernoo pop up. Fascinating but not that deep.

G4  Elegant and brilliant MI performance, I think I prefer this among the 5 in this group. Make me associate to Queyras, but the missing repeat in the courante puzzles me. I may not have heard this recording before.

G5 Nice and fluend prelude, but elsewhere very eccentric. My guess before (E1 = G5) was Gavriel Lipkind, and I maintain this. In short: I do not like his style.

So my votes are:

G4 > G2 > G3 > G1 > G5
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 08, 2015, 04:20:08 AM
Thanks  :premont:

... Elegant and brilliant MI performance ... the missing repeat in the courante puzzles me. I may not have heard this recording before.

There's a joker in every pack    [adopts sphinx-like expression]  ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on March 08, 2015, 02:57:25 PM
Here is my vote for Group H in order of preference....


H3 - 1
H4 - 2
H5 - 3
H2 - 4
H1 - 5

I had great difficulty seperating H3 and H4 from one another in terms of a first preference. My vote ultimately went to H3 on the basis of interpretation over what I considered the superior technical performance of H4.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 08, 2015, 05:53:18 PM
Group G

G1 - Ok. Middle of the road. Doesn't really inspire for me. Don't really like the sound. Feels too loud all the time (rarely gets truly hushed).
G2 - Different instrument. Pleasing sound and much more interesting than G1. But I sometimes really missed the cello sound and impact that could have (doesn't create the length/fullness in the sound that this piece sometimes needs). Tempos sometimes too varied.
G3 - Similar to G1, just in better sound. Technically doesn't give you that feeling that they are always in control (though some nice touches in places).
G4 - AH, now this is more like it. Assured. Full of nuance. The piece is not playing them. Full of intensity, yet beautiful (and wonderful sound). Excellent.
G5 - Another good version. Much more emphasis on notes here than anywhere else, which at times worked very well, but at other times perhaps too much? This, I feel, may be a more controversial version. Still, I loved it!

G4 and G5 feel like every note is played with purpose. Both are taking you on their journey to Bach. Both are played very well, so it really just boils down to style and interpretation. I liked both a lot. I'm frankly torn on which to place first and which second. I would only put these two through from this group. 

My preliminary ranking is :
G5
G4
G3
G2
G1
I want to compare the last two again at some point, so if my ranking changes, I will let you know. But I think this is how I will ultimately go anyway. G5 is just so interesting...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 09, 2015, 02:17:59 AM
Thanks folks.
The way this is going, the final will not only have a joker in the pack, but a pair of one-eyed jacks as well!  [resumes poker face]
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on March 09, 2015, 09:28:01 AM
1. G1 - My favorite. Sounds familiar. Fournier?
2. G5 - Nice, modern sounding.
2. G4 - Nice, modern sounding.
4. G3 - Not bad. But not great.
4. G2 - Not bad. But not great.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Que on March 09, 2015, 09:29:14 AM
My, my, what a mess...  ::)  Bijlsma out, Beschi out... ??? ??? What are you guys doing over here?  :D

Bruno Cocset still in? ::)

Anyway, I should have joined the proceedings, sorry about that.... I might be tempted to do all of the closed the blind listenings outside of the game, just to tryto figure out what the hell happened!  :laugh:

Q
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: springrite on March 09, 2015, 09:31:31 AM
As someone behind The Great National Firewall, I can't hear any of the clips, so I have no choice but to patiently wait for the result and, like Que, wonder what the hell happened.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 09, 2015, 10:06:46 AM
... like Que, wonder what the hell happened.
My, my, what a mess...  ::)  Bijlsma out, Beschi out... ??? ??? What are you guys doing over here?  :D
It's total chaos out there. Three different first and last place votes. Interestingly, the version in last place seems to become the first place choice of the next reviewer. How odd is that?!?!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on March 09, 2015, 10:26:48 AM
Interestingly, the version in last place seems to become the first place choice of the next reviewer. How odd is that?!?!
I didn't like it (my first choice/your last choice) that much at first, mostly because of the presumed age of the recording, so I decided to listen to it a few more times. I realized on second listen that this is a version I really like musically. The sonic quality of your #1 and #2 recordings have them tied for #2 in my vote. (Do you know, btw, that ties are allowed now? You can have both of your favorites tie at #1.)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 09, 2015, 11:09:32 AM
I didn't like it (my first choice/your last choice) that much at first, mostly because of the presumed age of the recording, so I decided to listen to it a few more times. I realized on second listen that this is a version I really like musically. The sonic quality of your #1 and #2 recordings have them tied for #2 in my vote. (Do you know, btw, that ties are allowed now? You can have both of your favorites tie at #1.)
The thing I identified as most frustrating about #1 wasn't the age of the sound (which I don't feel should be held against a candidate - my philosophy on these blind listenings is to pick the best perfromance, not the one I want to necessarily buy). Rather, the trait that irritated me was a seeming inability to get soft enough. I wanted the performer to play hushed at times, which I feel was never truly achieved. It took me a while to realize, which is why the comment is at the end.

I don't like ties, so I'd prefer to give them all a separate ranking if I can.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 09, 2015, 11:46:55 AM
Thanks  :premont:

There's a joker in every pack    [adopts sphinx-like expression]  ;)

Could it be Starkers first recording? Well, sooner or later, you have to uncover him.  :)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 09, 2015, 01:18:50 PM
My, my, what a mess...  ::)  Bijlsma out, Beschi out... ??? ??? What are you guys doing over here?  :D

Bruno Cocset still in? ::)

Cocset went out in the prelims. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,23936.msg866379.html#msg866379) (He wasn't in my group, and I haven't heard him other than samples, which I strongly disliked.)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 10, 2015, 12:55:20 AM
My, my, what a mess...  ::)  Bijlsma out, Beschi out... ??? ??? What are you guys doing over here?  :D

Of the 10 still in, I think in any sighted discussion 5 of them would be regarded as somewhat 'left-field'.  And if we were to stop this instant and just select the leading 4 for the final, that would be a seriously weird group  ???  :D

I think part of what has happened is, with one or two honourable exceptions, these cellists' performances over the whole span of 36 pieces is much more variable than might be expected.  In other words, they have strengths and weaknesses.  In fact I tried to cater for this in the last round by sampling a major-key Prelude, then minor-key music both slow and fast.  But it is first impressions that count (I know this is true when I listen blind) and I get the impression that the judging was probably 80% influenced by the first sample, the Suite 3 Prelude.

So Beschi - and Mork - did very well indeed in the preliminary round (selecting 18 from 30 using a very short sample) - but seemed to have an 'off day' in the specific pieces chosen for the next round.  Likewise the clear winner of the last round is clearly not at his (or her) best in Suite 6 (I listened to it last night and it's pretty awful) - very unlikely to progress.

Thanks Jay - keep 'em coming folks.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 10, 2015, 06:57:02 AM
Of the 10 still in, I think in any sighted discussion 5 of them would be regarded as somewhat 'left-field'.  And if we were to stop this instant and just select the leading 4 for the final, that would be a seriously weird group  ???  :D

I think part of what has happened is, with one or two honourable exceptions, these cellists' performances over the whole span of 36 pieces is much more variable than might be expected.  In other words, they have strengths and weaknesses.  In fact I tried to cater for this in the last round by sampling a major-key Prelude, then minor-key music both slow and fast.  But it is first impressions that count (I know this is true when I listen blind) and I get the impression that the judging was probably 80% influenced by the first sample, the Suite 3 Prelude.

So Beschi - and Mork - did very well indeed in the preliminary round (selecting 18 from 30 using a very short sample) - but seemed to have an 'off day' in the specific pieces chosen for the next round.  Likewise the clear winner of the last round is clearly not at his (or her) best in Suite 6 (I listened to it last night and it's pretty awful) - very unlikely to progress.

Thanks Jay - keep 'em coming folks.
In the case of G5, I actually think the opening is the weakest part of the playing. Just don't want people to think we listen for 30 seconds and then call it a day! :)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 10, 2015, 08:34:22 AM
It could save me a lot of bandwidth if you did  :D :D
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: banpuku on March 12, 2015, 04:51:04 AM
In my response, I said Group 2.  I meant Group H.

And regarding my speedy response, please note that I am not a music expert.  I just know what I like and don't like.  I chose not to make a science project out of it, but rather submit my initial gut response.  Not sure if this is what is desired by the comparison OP, but I hope it helps nonetheless.

Thanks
Pat
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 12, 2015, 08:35:05 AM
That's absolutely fine - there are no rules, different people have different criterea and I think gut response is just as good as any other.

By the way it would be good to get to 5 votes per group before moving to the final, and it's obviously going to take a while yet, so if anyone who has already voted would like to hear the other group please let me know, and I'll gladly PM you the links.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on March 12, 2015, 09:12:38 AM
That's absolutely fine - there are no rules, different people have different criterea and I think gut response is just as good as any other.

By the way it would be good to get to 5 votes per group before moving to the final, and it's obviously going to take a while yet, so if anyone who has already voted would like to hear the other group please let me know, and I'll gladly PM you the links.

I will take it if you want to send it to me.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 12, 2015, 01:23:54 PM
That's absolutely fine - there are no rules, different people have different criterea and I think gut response is just as good as any other.

By the way it would be good to get to 5 votes per group before moving to the final, and it's obviously going to take a while yet, so if anyone who has already voted would like to hear the other group please let me know, and I'll gladly PM you the links.

You are welcome to send the items from Group H to me.
Thanks in advance.

Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on March 13, 2015, 10:15:58 AM
aukhawk ~

I just want to apologize for my absence from this group over the past few weeks, and for my failure to vote in round 1.  A family crisis, followed immediately by a winter illness, have kept me from participating in this exercise (and from much else, both on- and off-line) during the past several weeks...

For what it's worth, belatedly, my reactions to the round 1 F group somewhat mirror Jens Laurson's.  In fact, of the six recordings in that group, F2 was the only performance I found wholly satisfying, and I'm pleased to see that it survived the round.

If you need two extra ears to help fill out a group in the current round, I will be happy to lend mine, and will strive to be a more faithful listener/participant going forward.

Regards,

John
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 13, 2015, 03:32:19 PM
My votes for second round Group H:

1) This is a period instrument, but the interpretation is hopeless with utterly mannered agogics. I think it is Angela East, who's Bach suites have got that kind of reputation. IMO the worst of the five in Group H.

2) When I listened to this in Group E, I suggested Queyras, calling it imaginative playing full of life, and I think I shall maintain that judgement. One of the best in Group H.

3) The allemande is dragging and sentimental, certainly not my favorite. I have only heard one, who plays in that way -  Alexander Kniazev.

4) Obviously a great virtuoso, favoring motion and dancing, without digging too deep into the music. Might be Heinrich Schiff.

5) Violoncello da spalla. Listening to this in Group E  I suggested S. Kuijken, but I think this suite here is played with more "raw" expression, than I remember Kuijken does. It is definitely not Terakado, so that leaves Dmitri Badiarov.

My voting:   H2 = H5 > H4 >>> H3 > H1
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 14, 2015, 12:39:41 AM
Thanks :premont: , and John you have PM - I'm very sorry to hear of your troubles, and hope things are improving now, for you and yours.  No need for apologies ever - people drop in and out all the time, for all sorts of reasons - I've sent you links but hey, no pressure  ;)
Oh - and you'll be pleased the know that F2 (as was) is currently leading in this round, and so is very likely to make it into the final.

The allemande is dragging and sentimental, certainly not my favorite.

I must admit I was kinda hoping (and expecting) this one wouldn't get to this round, where the allemande was bound to find it out.  Meanwhile, Beschi and Gaillard and Bylsma have already been cast out into the void, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth ...  :(
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 14, 2015, 12:44:29 AM
H5>H2>H1>H4>H3

H5 is the only I'm satisfied enough to be sure it deserved to be in the final.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on March 15, 2015, 10:25:04 AM
John you have PM - I'm very sorry to hear of your troubles, and hope things are improving now, for you and yours.  No need for apologies ever - people drop in and out all the time, for all sorts of reasons - I've sent you links but hey, no pressure  ;)

Oh - and you'll be pleased the know that F2 (as was) is currently leading in this round, and so is very likely to make it into the final.

Aukhawk, many thanks for your kind words, and for the links.  I've already listened to a few of them and have found my spirits greatly raised by at least one in particular.  Rankings and comments to follow in due course.

Cheers,

John
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 15, 2015, 01:09:20 PM
I've got plenty of comments but I need to do more listening. Even burnt a CD to make sure I don't have to listen via  computer's soundcard-DAC. Although that's not quite as convenient, with three tracks shunted onto a second CD and not participating in the shuffle-mode. None are outright bad now... that's nice.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on March 21, 2015, 02:50:43 PM
Finally, ready to vote.  Close call, needed several listens in varying order to decide which I liked best, and even then it was mostly a "gut" decision based on overall feel.
First place. G5
Second place. G3 and G4 (tie)
Fourth place.  G1 and G2 (tie)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 22, 2015, 12:42:45 AM
Thanks Jeffrey.  G5 has been placed top twice and plumb last once (as has H5) - it's a funny old world.
I'll await one more vote for each group, or a deadline of the end of next weekend, whichever comes the sooner, before moving on to the final.  At the moment 2nd to 5th are all very close, with a largeish gap to 6th, and it's looked that way for a while as the voting developed. So we may well end up with 5 in the final round, instead of 4.

I'd also like to mention at this stage, that if anyone out there has got another blind comparison planned and has been holding off - please feel free to get started, with only the final to go here I doubt if we'd stall in the face of competition at this stage.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 22, 2015, 07:37:12 AM

...is the only I'm satisfied enough to be sure it deserved to be in the final.

I've just realized that for uknown reasons I wrote F for H in my vote, so I've edited it.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 22, 2015, 12:52:09 PM
H1: Sounds a little extrovert. Good sound. A little deliberate. Squeezes top notes just a wee bit. Different, never annoying. I have my suspicions… but I’m really glad that I’ve managed to keep this totally blind, so far. Good, worthy, not quite top notch for everyday listening. Rips the notes in the Courante  more than necessary. Yes, today this is too much for me, although I’m not really complaining, mind you.
No.4

H2: Track 2. Hello! I’m dancing in my chair. Love it. Has teeth, too… digs in, dig it. Ought to be a top contender. Superfluid, superb forward momentum, nuance…  A bit tinny and fast on Track four, but with juice and drive.
No.1

H3: Compared to H2 nasal, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Nothing is bad, so far, but the relative differences are there… and this one does not win out on first listening. Track 6: tum-tum-tum… accentuated or hacked? Rhythmic or in-your-face? Notable, not to dislike. Just a little harder around the edges than the rest of the bunch. No, it does something for me… the dancing lilt of the Gavotte makes up for much. If this is not the last entry, it’s because others slipped behind it for some reason There’s much to merit inclusion in the next group… but perhaps just not enough? Doesn't deserve last place... but I wish to distinguish a little, between these. No.4

H4: Compares nicely. Bit spacious, aged acoustic, but heck, it’s well played. But not 100% intonation-secure. There was a descending figure that rather loosened where it shouldn’t have. Noticeable every time. A little eager, like a squirrel hopping onto the next branch at times. Nothing impressive at first, but even then one feels there’s something good going on. Some furiously fast passages… my good, does he need to catch the bus? Not that I’m complaining. But almost doesn’t fit to some of the other impression. I like how it continues. Anyway, in an less-than-impressive way this impresses and needs to move no. Yes, absolutely… listening to the Courante again, tight notes notwithstanding, this will be ranked high by me in this round. Even though the Gavotte here isn't nearly as nice as in H3. Damn.
No.2

H5: Consistently fails to move me; partly lacking concentration, I suppose… but this merely good. I don’t like the Prelude and Allemande (a little indistinct at this tempo) as much as the Courante, which I think is very elegant. OK… the Gavotte, overtly powerful, has something to say. Lithe, in part because of the acoustic. Interesting touch and interesting sound. Damned, now this is bobbing up again.
No.3

H1 = Rank 4   Rank 1 = H2
H2 = Rank 1   Rank 2 = H4
H3 = Rank 4    Rank 3 = H5
H4 = Rank 2    Rank 4 = H3
H5 = Rank 3    Rank 4 = H1
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 22, 2015, 01:31:12 PM
I'll await one more vote for each group, or a deadline of the end of next weekend, whichever comes the sooner, before moving on to the final.

That´s a long time to wait.  ???
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 22, 2015, 02:21:45 PM
Ideally I just need another vote in Group G.   Jo498  and  xochitl  have links but I expect real life has got in the way.  If anyone else can take it on I'd be very grateful.  Otherwise we'll move on and you'll have the results of this round on Monday March 30th.

Jlaurson, very interesting and perceptive comments, thanks.  Your votes have largely confirmed the status quo in Group H.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 22, 2015, 05:27:11 PM
You don't necessarily have to wait for me, but I am working through group H. I can probably vote on Wednesday.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 23, 2015, 12:54:44 AM
Ideally I just need another vote in Group G.   Jo498  and  xochitl  have links but I expect real life has got in the way.  If anyone else can take it on I'd be very grateful.  Otherwise we'll move on and you'll have the results of this round on Monday March 30th.

Jlaurson, very interesting and perceptive comments, thanks.  Your votes have largely confirmed the status quo in Group H.

Starting tomorrow, listening will be easier for me, so I could turn it around, most likely, by the end of this week.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 23, 2015, 01:13:24 AM
jlaurson, PM sent - but no pressure  ;)

Pat, that's great, I'll look forward to your vote.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 23, 2015, 04:24:54 AM
G4=G1>G5=G3>G2

G4 - this feels like a confession, exultant but with all kinds of shadows around it.  i was impelled to concentrate for the entire length of this
G1 - old, rickety, wobbly, distilled soul! i know this one. still holds up.
G5 - trying too hard, but still pretty good
G3 - very well done. mirror sheen on that tone and pinpoint dexterity gotta count for something
G2 - on a good day i'd say this was 'probing for an alternate approach'. right now it just sounds aimless and endlessly beating you over the head
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 23, 2015, 06:45:03 AM
Thanks, that's very helpful.
G2 - by the way - was the outright top scorer in the previous round, out of 18 recordings.  But he was always doomed because he makes a complete Horlicks** of the Suite 6 Prelude.  So sad.

(** popular cricketing expression here in the UK - e.g. batsman misses ball and falls backwards onto his own wicket - "Oh, he made a complete Horlicks of that" followed by ill-concealed off-mic sniggering.)

Right, I have a clear final 4 - but since I've recently sent some links out I'll close the voting on Thursday 26th March, end of the day US time - and post the results on Friday, followed by the links for the final round to everyone who has voted in this round (and anyone else who wants to join in).  Depending on any votes to come in, the final 4 could still become a final 5, or the 4th place could change, so further votes are still welcome.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 23, 2015, 11:04:31 AM
I'll close the voting on Thursday 26th March, end of the day US time

So could I ask for G Group links?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on March 23, 2015, 02:11:15 PM
Here is my vote for Group G in order of my preference:

G5 - 1
G4 - 2
G3 - 3
G1 - 4
G2 - 5
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 24, 2015, 12:39:49 AM
can i get group H? promise i'll make it by the deadline
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 24, 2015, 03:00:29 AM
PMs to   mszczuj   and   xochitl

Thanks for your vote   aligreto   - remarkably G1 has been voted best in group twice, and last place also twice.  It was similar for this cellist in the Prologue round, all 'yes' or 'no' but no 'maybe'.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 24, 2015, 04:21:24 AM
.. remarkably G1 has been voted best in group twice, and last place also twice.  It was similar for this cellist in the Prologue round, all 'yes' or 'no' but no 'maybe'.

Maybe because his reputation rests upon old veneration, and that others have not just equalled him, but surpassed him.

Or maybe just because taste has changed.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on March 24, 2015, 10:07:42 AM
Without further ado, my comments and rankings for Group H:

H1 ~ light and airy, but the thinnish tone of the cello doesn't greatly appeal to me.  Indeed--I don't quite know why, but I become impatient as I listen to this.

H2 ~ a tour de force!  Beautifully played, with great mastery and ease.  The recording is gorgeous--almost too gorgeous? 
(Some "artificial" effects achieved by the engineer fiddling with knobs & such?)  At any rate, the performer communicates
his/her joy in the work throughout, and I find this performance a delight from start to finish. Easily my first-place choice,
and a worthy finalist in my book.

H3 ~ a quieter, more introverted, introspective, understated, ascetic performance than H3.  Lovely in its own way, though
perhaps a shade too quiet throughout--more variety in the Prelude would not have come amiss.  The Courant and Gavottes seem
a tad  too deliberate.  And yet...  This performance has great distinction and authority, and I find much to admire here even if I don't "like" it in the way that I like H2.  This definitely is "late-night" listening.

H4 ~ Strong & assertive playing right from the outset.  A somewhat similar approach to H2, but not quite as engaging and
enchanting to me as H2.  The reverberant accoustic--too aggressively and irritatingly reverberant in this music for my taste--
leads me to guess that this migh be a Chandos or Nimbus recording.

H5 ~ Another excessively reverberant recording. In fact, the reverberant accoustic and the somewhat hollow sound of the cello
is the first thing that strikes me, and it gets in the way of my appreciation of this interpretation and my enjoyment of the
performance as a performance.  HIPsters no doubt will point out all sorts of merits in this performance; in time, I might
come to appreciate it more, but for now I find it it overly busy (the opposite of H3) and a tad too HIPsterish.


So, my ranking:

1>  H2
2>  H3
3>  H4
4>  H5
5>  H1

I'd certainly advance H2 & H3 to the next (final?) round.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on March 24, 2015, 10:30:55 AM

Thanks for your vote   aligreto   - remarkably G1 has been voted best in group twice, and last place also twice.  It was similar for this cellist in the Prologue round, all 'yes' or 'no' but no 'maybe'.

That is the thing with blind tests; even if you feel that you know who it is you have to vote on what you hear and not what you think you hear.
Yes, with certain artists there are no maybes, just polarized opposites.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 24, 2015, 02:27:19 PM
That is the thing with blind tests; even if you feel that you know who it is you have to vote on what you hear and not what you think you hear.

But this ideal is impracticable. As soon as one recognizes - or think to recognize - the player, this knowledge is bound to colour the evaluation.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Madiel on March 25, 2015, 01:09:21 AM
But this ideal is impracticable. As soon as one recognizes - or think to recognize - the player, this knowledge is bound to colour the evaluation.

Which is one reason you should get people like me, who don't already have 15 favourite versions of a work, to participate.

Although in this case it wasn't practical when the comparison started, and it's about to become impractical again.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on March 25, 2015, 08:19:37 AM
Which is one reason you should get people like me, who don't already have 15 favourite versions of a work, to participate.

Or the ideal blind comparison comprises nothing but unknown recordings?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 25, 2015, 09:37:29 AM
Or the ideal blind comparison comprises nothing but unknown recordings?
I have only one version. I don't know if I have heard it. I rarely can recognize a specific performance. I don't know how others do it. Even in pieces where I have a high degree of familiarity, something has to be obvious for me to pick it out.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 25, 2015, 02:23:24 PM
Thankyou    jfdrex   your vote has definitely helped clarify the final 4.

(Some "artificial" effects achieved by the engineer fiddling with knobs & such?)

You know, this is certainly a criticism I feel about one of the other strong contenders within this top 10.  But then I ask myself, why does this disturb me??  (I write, you understand, as a sound engineer (retired).  In my work I used artificial digital reverb on a more-or-less daily basis - it's an essential and routine tool of the trade - so why would it bother me when I detect it in a recording originated by somebody else??  I dunno.   :-\
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 25, 2015, 07:18:06 PM
Group H. Since I'm running late, not much commentary, other than to say that this was a pretty tightly packed group for me, and to guess that my top choice was deemed too straight by some other listeners.

Best H2 H1 H5 H4 H3 Worst
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 25, 2015, 08:48:20 PM
guess that my top choice was deemed too straight by some other listeners.

Well, looking back over others' comments, I was way off on that.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 26, 2015, 01:25:10 AM
Thanks Pat - yes your top choice was much liked and was the easy winner in group H (though currently edged out for 1st overall by the group G winner).

Last orders please folks, voting will close at the end of today (US time).  Round 2 eliminations will be posted tomorrow morning (UK time).
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 26, 2015, 01:46:23 AM
well, life really got in the way this time around :/

looking forward to the results tho
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 26, 2015, 01:52:58 AM
No problem.  Now ... relax.  ;)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 26, 2015, 04:39:05 AM
My commentary is getting ever more extensive... I'm 1 1/2 versions away from turning in Group G.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 26, 2015, 04:41:03 PM
i managed to scrape a couple hours of free time!

H2 - awesome all around but too much reverb. im almost sure i know who this is and the rest of the cycle isnt as good but we're only voting on this so im a bit conflicted
H3 - very deep. total control. didnt like it initially cos it started out slow/heavy but i ended up hypnotized
H1 - very expressive, a bit eccentric. beautiful sweet tone. not quite tops
H5 - had a hard time with the sound of the instrument (spalla?). performance was excellent
H4 - wispy but heavyhanded at the same time. no

H2 was the only one that really stood out from a pack of really good recordings. H1-H3-H5 tied and H4 was disqualified.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 26, 2015, 11:27:29 PM
Alas I'm too late and not very sure but still:

G1>G4>G5>G2>G3
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 27, 2015, 12:29:57 AM
Thanks chaps.

jlaurson?  I'd hate to cut you out when you've got so far.

In any case there'll be a bit of a delay as xochitl's vote has (not for the first time  :-X) altered the rankings just around the cut-off point.  I need to take time out to process a new finalist!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 27, 2015, 05:22:50 AM
Links for the FINAL round (Group X, 4 contenders, Suite No.5 entire) have been PM'd to everyone who voted in the last round. 
That is: (in no especial order!) Jeffrey Smith;     jfdrex;  mc ukrneal;  premont;   xochitl;  jlaurson;   aligreto;   Pat B;  mszczuj;  banpuku;
As ever, if anyone else wishes to join in, please do.

I'm awaiting   jlaurson's    vote and comments before revealing the six not going through, but as it happens his vote can have no material effect on the 1st/2nd/3rd placings in group G, so the 4 finalists are decided anyway.  And a very 'interesting' group they are too!  (That's 'interesting' in the 'be careful what you wish for' sense  :D)
X1 was H2/E5/B1.  X2 was H5/E4/B5.   X3 was G4/F2/C6.   X4 was G5/E1/B7.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 27, 2015, 03:40:37 PM
Paging Mr. Laurson...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 28, 2015, 12:59:27 AM
Oh well never mind - I'd still like to see those rankings and comments though - they may tweak this running order a little, but not alter the personnel.

Here goes - NB some of the quoted comments have been lifted from earlier rounds.

10th place.
G2 (26% ... mostly ranked 2nd-last or last in group)
In round 1 - "my life just improved from hearing this performance. nuff said"
However in round 2 - "sometimes really missed the cello sound and impact that could have"
and - "right now it just sounds aimless"
G2 (was D5 was A8) was
...
as many people spotted
...

Paolo Pandolfo


playing his viola da gamba to great effect, at least in the earlier rounds.  In fact in the previous round Pandolfo was the outright highest scorer, of all 18, and drew two "I must buy this" comments.  From hero to zero - unfortunately he makes a complete hash of the Suite 6 Prelude, probably his worst moment in the whole six suites, and the Allemande is not much better.  As a result he's outright last in this round and by a long way.  I do earnestly recommend this as an 'alternative' version of the Suites, to anyone not familiar with it - just don't judge Paolo by Suite 6 alone.
====================


9th place.
H1 (38% ... voted last - or joint last - by 4 voters out of 8 )
"the cellist feels quite at liberty to do whatever he wants"
"the interpretation is hopeless with utterly mannered agogics"

H1 (was F5 was C1) was
...
part cellist part mermaid
...

Angela East
(http://www.aukadia.net/pix/east1.jpg)
One of the four recordings that were at the cut-off in Round 1, and scrambled over three places in Round 2 (with Beschi being the one to lose out).  If I could only have one version of the Suites, this would be the one.  Because there is variety, and unexpectedness and challenge at every turn.  However since in reality I can choose from several recordings, she usually gets passed over while I turn to such as Beschi, Pandolfo, Bylsma(1), Paternoster or Meyer.
Her 'interesting' approach - often sounding as though she's working out the fingering as she goes along - did not find much favour here.
And this cover art is another awful depiction of cello abuse (even if only simulated).  Why do they do this?
====================


8th place.
H3 (40% ... divided opinion - got a 1st and 2 2nds - but also 3 last places)
"The allemande is dragging and sentimental"
"a quieter, more introverted, introspective, understated, ascetic performance"
"very deep. total control ... i ended up hypnotized"
"one of the greatest III preludes ive ever heard. definitely wanna know who this is."

OK, just for you,   xochitl
H3 (was D1 was C5) was
...
the notorious
...

Alexander Kniazev
(http://www.aukadia.net/pix/kniazev.jpg)
I can't find this as a CD on Amazon, only as downloads (from various sources).  Kniazev has limped from round to round doing just enough to stay in, but actually showed more strongly here for a while.  His lengthy treatment of the Suite 6 Allemande (and of most of the other slow movements) is surely a bit too much, half the pace of some other cellists.
====================


==6th place (joint 6th)
G1 (49% ... and voted 1st in group by 3 voters - and last by 3 as well)
"it's expressive but not in a Romanticized way. Emphases are made with dynamics more than agogics."
"the sixth suite reveals that the player is far more technically assured than Navarra, so I now tend to say Fournier."
"old, rickety, wobbly, distilled soul!"

G1 (was E6 was C2) was
...
as most of you had worked out by now
...

Pierre Fournier


The oldest recording in test apart from Casals of course.  It's now 55 years since this was issued.
When I was about 13, I saved up my milk-round money to buy our family's first (electric) record-player (the infamous Dansette Bermuda).  My older brother instantly bought the Fournier LP coupling the 5th and 6th Suites and played it repeatedly, along with his 3 other LPs, the Schubert String Quintet and the Dvorak and Shostakovich Cello Concertos, all featuring Rostropovich. Yes, he was a bit cello-obsessed!  This is not to my taste now, but I'm very impressed Fournier did way better than any of his near-contemporaries who mostly fell at the first hurdle - 6th place really justifying his continuing good reputation among the GMG community.
====================


==6th place (joint 6th)
G3 (49% ... frequently ranked 3rd in group)
"Technically doesn't give you that feeling that they are always in control (though some nice touches in places)"
"very well done. mirror sheen on that tone and pinpoint dexterity gotta count for something"

G3 (was F6 was C8) was
...
an unidentified cat
...

Boris Pergamenschikow


I only included him in the test at the last minute, to make up the numbers when I belatedly threw another version out as being just too awful to include.  To my surpise Boris did really well in the earlier rounds, scoring 90% in the Prologue and topping his group in the next round.  With his straight-ahead and middling style, and given the competition in Group G, I'm now a bit surprised that he hasn't gone all the way.
====================


5th place.
H4 (53% ... voters placed it 1st, 2x 2nd and 2x 3rd)
"wispy but heavyhanded at the same time"
"favoring motion and dancing, without digging too deep into the music"

H4 (was D3 was A10) was
...
a dark horse who nearly made the final
...

Heinrich Schiff


This 30-year-old recording has been a strong contender in every round and was a finalist until  xochitl's  late Group H vote came in.  Quite well-liked in GMG circles but I'd never listened to him before this, but he would have fitted right in, in the final.  Unlucky not to be there.
====================


Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on March 28, 2015, 02:16:31 AM
Sorry... I was moving household. Back now... here, fyi, my comments and rankings (uncounted) for Group G, as far as I got:

G1: Dah.dah.dah.dah.dah. The Prelude is a joke for rhythmical feeling. I’m sorry… I’m close to disqualifying the thing just on that account. Sounds like an anesthetized sewing machine. It gets more fluid, fortunately, but boy, that really didn’t bode nicely for this round. Tone isn’t too nice, up on high, either… good back then, but I expect more from a cellist now.

Hello! Life is coming back to it in the Courante. Very considerably so. Thin tone, but I don’t mind that… in fact, I rather appreciate it compared to the booming of, say, an awful Strad cello. In a way, this is some of the best, perhaps ideal, playing. (There are more than one ideal such ways, of course.) It shows me that the cellist CAN be an immense artist; I don’t think I’m listening to a Heinrich Schiff here . Well, I know I don’t, for starters, because of the sound… but more to the point because I don’t think he’d be capable, even at his best of times, of such artistry. Still, not enough in any way to go on. In any case, the Gavotte isn’t all that great anymore. But now I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m trouncing on what is purportedly one of my favorite performances, namely P.F.. More than a suspicion, actually. Dread realization. But I love him so, don’t I? Hmmm… no, I don’t, not everywhere, apparently. In the assumption, my ears want to hear lots of wonderful things now, but I know I might not be so kind if I had the suspicion it might be someone else or if it simply was strictly blind. Damned, now I can’t un-do my selective looking for niceties. Oh, like that elegant swaying of the lines in Gavotte II… that *is* kind of neat. The less subtle elements, though, are, well… not subtle. I’ll have to make a rule right now not to give this recording than a shared 3rd rank… at best… unless I hear ALL rubbish, which I reckon won’t be the case. Let someone else love it, please. Time to move on.

G2: Hahaha! Very funny… Wwwwoom wwoom wwwoom. And then that silvery light tone above… What an instrument. But instrument or not, this is very, very well and very musically played. OK… couple high notes betray some canoodling… but I don’t begrudge this artist what he’s doing. A sort of wild elegance… mildly crazed… certainly fun! I will rank this highly, unless it is as bad in the other bits as G1 was good in the Courante. The recording is too resonant, too tubby for idealness… but, hey. So it won’t be No.1. I remember Kuijken in this being rather on the deliberate side… so, leaving the path of not even trying to guess who is playing, my suspicions are honing in on Mr. D.B. [P.P.] Neato… if so, his is an account I don’t have, and it’s good to know what treasures are out there. Incidentally Allemande isn’t up to the same exalted level of the Prelude, but still very good. Courante maybe a bit too spidery. Not my No.1 choices, this won’t be, but with good Gavottes (and yes, indeed!), maybe no.2? >1, 3, 4
Edit: But goshdarnit... there are places where it sounds absolutely IDENTICAL to D.B..

[I

G3: A step down after that amazing Prelude just now… bit aimless, bit effortful, bit wheezy. More fluid than G1 and less exacerbating but somewhere lurks less talent. Settles with a very fine Allemande. A “dot all the i’s, cross all the t’s” performance that is, except for the heavy close-up-mike sniffing, a fine thing, indeed… but leaves me wanting so much more, knowing that there is so much more to find. I am itching for the fast forward button. If this doesn’t do something really special, I might get to lift G1 above it, without feeling too guilty.  Courante continues nicely, if more or less in the same style. Obviously able, obviously nimble… This strikes me the sort of thing Zuill Bailey might turn out, except a little more tasteful and a little less overtly impressive in tone (which isn’t actually a bad thing). Neither bad nor great… nor even lukewarm enough to be bad. Tough one. <2, 4, =1… 3?

G4: Resonant. Too tubby for me… but not outright bad; not a soup, granted. No, actually that’s not grounds to downgrade. It’s a bit G3-ish, but better, more tasteful. >3
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on March 28, 2015, 04:17:27 AM
oh snap! i totally failed to recognize Schiff.  guess that's a good thing this being blind and all?  ???
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on March 28, 2015, 08:12:19 AM
Angela East
If I could only have one version of the Suites, this would be the one.  Because there is variety, and unexpectedness and challenge at every turn.  However since in reality I can choose from several recordings, she usually gets passed over while I turn to such as Beschi, Pandolfo, Bylsma(1), Paternoster or Meyer.

Interesting. I liked it better than most, but for me it would be an alternative view, not the "desert island" choice.

Aside from the cello abuse, I really don't like that typeface.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 28, 2015, 09:05:44 AM
Thanks  jlaurson  - well I knew you probably had better things to do right now!  ;)  I'm sorry if it seemed I was rushing you.

I was thinking your rankings might at least resolve the tie for 6th place between Fournier G1 and Pergamenschikow G3 - but no, it seems your ranking doesn't split them either!
Though on countback - Pergamenschikow was much the stronger in previous rounds, whereas Fournier only just squeaked through to this round.  Interesting how many of this last 10 are, to my ears anyway, somewhat similar in tone and general approach - more similar than they are different let's say.  Most of the really distinctive renditions already gone before we got to here.

Interesting too, that your opinions of G2 and G4 are right against the trend set by everyone else who heard Group G.  Poor old Pandolfo (G2) notched up 5x 4th places and a 5th, not loved at all, and that after being top scorer and much praised in the previous round.  And G4 won this group easily with all 1sts and 2nds - well, until your assessment came along anyway.  FWIW I agree pretty much with your "a bit G3-ish, but better, more tasteful".
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mszczuj on March 28, 2015, 08:47:39 PM
This time it was rather obvious and clear for me so I prefer to vote immediately before I will start to change my mind:

X4>X3>X2>X1
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on March 29, 2015, 04:22:45 AM
Good start!  Thanks.

Everybody, don't think you have to rush, I expect this to run for at least 2 weeks or more.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on March 31, 2015, 03:20:30 PM
X3>X4>X2>X1
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 02, 2015, 02:33:15 AM
Thanks Jay.
Hm, the way this is heading, this result could discredit blind comparisons for ever more!  ;)  What do you think,  :premont: ?  :-X

Can I suggest, since we're nearing the end, that everyone keeps their votes/comments in the open?  A sequence of apparently blank posts makes it rather uninteresting for the casual visitor.  Of course, if you want to say "I know who this is, it's XXX" - then by all means do so, but white it out.  Otherwise, let's have the dog see the rabbit.

Have a good Easter, everyone.  I might break out my favourite version of the St Matthew Passion (Suzuki).
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on April 02, 2015, 12:39:15 PM
Hm, the way this is heading, this result could discredit blind comparisons for ever more!  ;)  What do you think,  :premont: ?  :-X

I think blind comparison is a good way to find out, whether the  different interpretations are as good as we imagine. But one always run the risk of recognizing the player too fast, and being unable to make an objective judgement.

If blind comparison included more unknown recordings, we might reduce this risk.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on April 02, 2015, 01:42:19 PM
If blind comparison included more unknown recordings, we might reduce this risk.
Do more people want to discover new versions they might then purchase or see how their current favorites stack up? I'm probably in the latter camp, though in this comparison, I only have one version, Fournier's. Some versions of things were so good, I didn't look for alternates as I was buying classical music for the first time in the 1980s. Fournier's Cello Suites were among them. I think I voted it #1 in one round, but it was eliminated.

I think the truth about the Cello Suites for me is that I don't like them enough to own more than one version. But I was satisfied with the first version of most Bach I bought back in the '80s, the exception being the Brandenburgs. But though I bought ten or more versions, none pleased me as much as Trevor Pinnock's until I discovered the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin's versions whenever it was they came out.

I've consumed many, many versions of Mahler and Beethoven, however. When we do blind comparisons there, I'm more interested in finding out how others agree with my favorites rather than finding new versions to purchase. Within Mahler, I have purchasing weirdness, too. I can listen to infinite versions, it seems, of #3, #7, and #2. I don't wish to listen to anything but my single favorites of #6 and #9 (both Bernstein, CBS). #1, #4, #5, and #8 I just don't listen to that much at all anymore.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 03, 2015, 01:11:46 AM
Yes I think a very interesting thing is how well (or not) the established GMG favourite versions stand up.  By the last round (10 left in) it seemed to me to be stacked with versions that I would consider to be 'straight down the middle' - whereas many of the GMG favourites I find are a bit more unorthodox, in one way or another.
I thought Fournier did remarkably well, considering the age of the recording and the reputations of some of the others around him - fully justifying his own continuing good reputation.

Hm well this comparison included 4 recordings that were unknown or at least not, I think, identified by anybody - one of which is a finalist.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on April 03, 2015, 02:03:31 AM
Hm well this comparison included 4 recordings that were unknown or at least not, I think, identified by anybody - one of which is a finalist.

Four out of thirty isn´t that much, and it is of course more difficult to identify a musician, when you just hear a small bit of the recording, and this is obviously why it was difficult to identify the musicians particularly in the preliminary round but even in the first round proper. I had more luck in the second round, where I think I recognized all except Pergamenschikow (whom I did not think of at all - he is obviously better than I recalled) and the mysterious G4 = X3, whom I ought to know - considering the excellence of the interpretation. It is a version I intend to purchase if possible, if I do not own it already.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on April 07, 2015, 06:39:31 PM
Fourth place
X2
Third place
X4
Second place
X1
First place
X3
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on April 08, 2015, 07:18:20 AM
X3>>X1>X2>>>>X4

which means X3 first place and X4 last place.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Jay F on April 08, 2015, 08:46:49 AM
Three of us so far have liked X3 most.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on April 08, 2015, 09:25:22 AM
x1 > x4 > x2 & x3


----------------------------------------- commentary ---------------------------------

We have successfully filtered all the ones with character out of this contest, which made this final the most boring round by FAR. There’s quality left, of course, even tremendously so… but also tedious sameishness. Very tempted to place them all last… except it wouldn’t make a difference from placing them all first. So I must distinguish. ||| Upon more kind-eared hearing, that’s not fair. There’s a decent amount of difference in instruments and approaches here… even if a full-bodied direct post-classical/romantic interpretation is prevalent.


X1

1) Didn’t react well to this on a grumpy morning and wrote unkind things about it… partly because I’m annoyed with the whole group. That doesn’t hold up on second listening, because this is extremely fine playing. Not wayward, bit mainstreamish, but delicious in every touch. Bit present in the acoustic and SQ, but that can hardly be held against it.

2) Could be just a hint lighter in the Courante… to provide a little variety in texture. This is gorgeous-toned throughout… which is also something that made me impatient in this whole group, X2’s inclusion notwithstanding.

3) Thick and wonderful and just not my thing today.


No.1

X2

1) Low and raspy (which gives away the instrument) and also overtly impressive, which isn’t always what I like. Maybe I should turn down the volume a little. Reedy and hollow… fine but not thrilling.

2) Very pleasing first impression. An element of elegance I’d been missing on a cursory run through the finalists.

3)

No.3

X3

1) Chameleon. Never even noticed it. Beautiful. A little boring… not all *that* lyrical.

2) Opening notes of the Courante ripped off the instrument; one of the most distinctive openings of that particular bit. Forced vigor. Polar opposite of, say, Pandolfini or Cocset.

3) Resonant acoustic… certainly lightness I like… not matched entirely (though largely) by lightness of playing.

I wonder how the elegant Klinger would have fared in this final… just a bland version of X1 or something special?

No.3

X4

1) Little extra touches, little flourishes; digs deep… resonant, very varnished sound. Barenboim in Beethoven Symphonies sounds like this.

2) Notable, slow, fine… but maybe a bit very much on the slow side.

3) Exclamation mark at the end. Not every-day Bach, but special.

No.2
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: kishnevi on April 08, 2015, 05:26:51 PM
Jens, I quite understand the feeling of sameishness.  That was  my initial response, and it took me a few times to figure out my vote.  And even then, I was constantly changing my mind about whether X2 or X4 was my least favorite, and whether I liked X1 or X3 more...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 09, 2015, 11:11:34 PM
Thankyou Jeffrey, :premont: and Jens -
well, the writing is on the wall but with a possible 7 more votes out there I'll let this run for another week before setting a deadline.

Although the result will hinge only on these final scores (unless there is a tie), I have been collating the scores for earlier rounds as well but whatever way you cut it - counting all 4 rounds, or the last 3 excluding the preliminary (probably the fairest way) - the result (so far) would be the same.

We have successfully filtered all the ones with character out of this contest, which made this final the most boring round by FAR.

Indeed and see also, the final round and overall winner in the recent Schubert String Quintet blind comparison - a similar thing happened.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on April 10, 2015, 01:17:22 AM
My vote, in order of preference....


X2 - first
X3 - second
X4 - third
X1 - last


X2 got my no. 1 vote simply because it had something different in a world of relative sameness and therefore made it stand out for me. All other things being equal, No. 2 had something that would make me listen to it again and again over the other three versions [not that they were in any way poor performances].
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on April 10, 2015, 02:52:15 AM

Indeed and see also, the final round and overall winner in the recent Schubert String Quintet blind comparison - a similar thing happened.



Have you a convenient link so that I may click my lazy a*# over there?  0:)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 10, 2015, 06:39:10 AM
The complete thread:
Schubert String Quintet (july 2014) (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,23409.0.html)
or for just the denoument:
http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=23409.280 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=23409.280)

For my fairly complete list of links to blind tests on GMG (so far):
http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,23767.msg850707.html#msg850707 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,23767.msg850707.html#msg850707)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 10, 2015, 06:47:02 AM
Thanks aligreto - this is increasingly looking like a race for 2nd place  :-X
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on April 11, 2015, 01:54:32 AM
Thanks aligreto - this is increasingly looking like a race for 2nd place  :-X

You are most welcome. I have enjoyed this and look forward to the final outcome.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 16, 2015, 11:03:59 PM
No votes since 10th April.
The six votes we have so far do give a clear result, but in fairness we do need to see a couple more.  I'll set a deadline of Wednesday 22nd April (end of the day, US time) and post the results of this Final the following morning (UK time).
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: mc ukrneal on April 18, 2015, 05:20:39 PM
First - x1
x4
x3
Last - x2

Sorry for taking so long...And thanks again for organizing this!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 20, 2015, 10:08:08 PM
Thanks, mc ukrneal

Last call for any more votes - 48 hours left.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on April 21, 2015, 07:44:48 AM
Thanks, mc ukrneal

Last call for any more votes - 48 hours left.

I'll listen to the last one today and vote tomorrow.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on April 21, 2015, 10:04:46 AM
I ought to preface my remarks and my vote in this final round by saying that I've discovered that this exercise finds me somewhat out of my comfort zone, or at least my zone of expertise (insofar as I possess any musical expertise ???).  Put before me multiple recordings of a work by Bruckner or Sibelius or Elgar or Rachmaninoff, for example, and I'll have strong and detailed and definite opinions... But here, with the Bach suites for cello, I feel at though I'm truly flying blind (which maybe is the point of a blind listening! ;))

With that being said...

X1 did not immediately appeal to me on first hearing, and wound up in third place in my initial rankings.  But on subsequent hearings, I was moved by a haunting, haunted, otherworldly quality in the music that this performance conveys.  There's a depth and a heaviness to the sound--at times, I'm not sure if this "heaviness" is "authentic Bach: (whatever that is) or even "good" cello-playing (whatever that is); there's an old-fashioned feel to the playing that tells me this is not a HIP performance, & so I suspect it will not appeal to HIPsters.  In any case, though I cannot say whether this is a great performance, to my ears it is a very good and solid one.

X2 has a distinctive sound that draws my immediate attention--but I can't honestly say it's a sound I like.  In fact, I dislike what my ears hear, and I don't hear enough heart in the playing or interest in the interpretation to overcome this aural negativity.  Right now this is not a performance to which I would want to return.  But that's a purely personal reaction; I'm willing to concede that some listeners might consider this to be a great performance.

X3 was my favorite performance of the four on first hearing.  But (this is a technical complaint about the recording, not about the performance per se), the microphone picks up too much breathing and sighing.  (I don't begrudge the cellist his breathing, nor even his sighing, but I want to concentrate on the sound of the cello.)  And, more seriously, on repeated hearing, I found something about the interpretation a bit off-putting--perhaps a certain self-consciousness or fussiness in the performance, the cellist being more concerned with making an impression than in exploring the music? ???

X4 strikes me as a performance of great gentleness, tenderness, sensitivity.  I like both the overall feel/ atmosphere/ emotional world or whatever you want to call it, and--just as much if not more--the treatment of the smallest musical details in the score.  This cellist achieves a fine balance between the technical aspect of the music and the the spiritual aspect; there's more light and shade here than in any of the other three performances.  Of the four performances in this group, this is without question the one I'd be happiest to add my admittedly modest collection of Bachiana.

Thus (at the risk of throwing a monkey wrench [aka spanner] into the works), after listening to each of these recordings several times over a period of a couple of weeks, my revised, final ranking is:

X4
X1
X3
X2
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 21, 2015, 01:05:27 PM
Thanks - and great comments, very perceptive, I think.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on April 22, 2015, 06:59:12 AM
overall this last round was just meh to me

X1 - i know this one and ive never liked it. weakest part of a cycle with some very high peaks
X2 - the instrument sounds unwieldy and buzzy (or soft and bloomy if you liked it) and took a few listens to gauge the performance. measured, sensitive, philosophical. i could get used to it. maybe. i see where he's coming from.
X3 - now we're talking. emotions. weight. mystery. phrasing that doesnt make me scratch my head in dissatisfaction. not the best ever by any stretch considering what weve seen previous rounds but still pretty stellar. rock solid
X4 - is it just me or do a lot of cellists push the inflection/rubato ("sigh...shhhh...-OH!-siiiGHHH. because this is deep music. aaand now i attack the string! wobble! feel my feels!") and make a mush of this suite? i'd rather watch a mexican soap opera (yes, i'm mexican, so it's not a putdown). what a mess

X3>X2>X1>>>>>>>>>X4
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on April 22, 2015, 08:42:52 AM

X4 - is it just me or do a lot of cellists push the inflection/rubato ("sigh...shhhh...-OH!-siiiGHHH. because this is deep music. aaand now i attack the string! wobble! feel my feels!") and make a mush of this suite? i'd rather watch a mexican soap opera (yes, i'm mexican, so it's not a putdown). what a mess


:-)

I like this description and I like the performance.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 22, 2015, 12:13:03 PM
Me too  ;)

10 hours ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on April 22, 2015, 06:25:29 PM
These are pretty different from each other, but I had a hard time ranking them. I liked them all. From best to least good:

X4
X1
X3
X2

X4: I fear this is the one I hated in the prologue and round 1. And if so, those were more bad than this is good (compared to the rest of the group). But still, it's the one I like best in this round, pretty consistently.
X1: Seems the straightest in this group, but it's very good.
X3: Very, very close to X1. Usually I'm not bothered by a bit of performance noise but the breathing here reaches the point of distraction.
X2: Unique tone. (Is this the surviving spalla performance? But it's tuned lower than the others.) Anyway, it's good, but the others are better.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 23, 2015, 01:14:49 AM
I know exactly what you mean about X4.

OK, votes closed, results coming up.  Several people found the final dull compared with previous rounds - well what we had was:
1. An established GMG favourite, no surprise at all to find him in the final.
2. The last surviving non-cello, someone playing an instrument they made themselves.
3. A relative unknown, a recent recording on a very small indie label.
4. A cellist who is often dismissed as being too extreme an interpreter.

Quite a mixture!
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 23, 2015, 01:53:36 AM
My favorite hasn't been eliminated yet (of course I don't know if he's a competitor). From the comments it sounds like it might be X4. Looking forward to the final results.

Sarge
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 23, 2015, 02:15:47 AM
No-one gets eliminated any more Sarge - everyone's a winner  ;D

The Results of the Bach Cello Suites blind comparison FINAL:

Final places in this final are based on the votes in this final alone, as is usual in these GMG blind comparisons.  I have also included a 'weighted average' over all 4 rounds (weighted because the last 2 rounds count more than round 1, and the preliminary round hardly at all, based on the amount of music presented in each round).   On this basis you will see that 2nd and 3rd places could be reversed.
NB some quotes below are lifted from earlier rounds.

4th place
X2 (30% in the final, but weighted average over all 4 rounds was a much more creditable 49%)
"It's very good but some of the emphases are overly exaggerated as sometimes happens in the HIP world."
"Lithe, in part because of the acoustic. Interesting touch and interesting sound."
"it's good, but the others are better"


8 out of 10 voters placed this last or next-last, in the final group.  In retrospect possibly Pergamenschikow or Schiff, who both were very much in the running to make the final, would have shown better than this.  Nice to have one of the non-cello offerings make it all the way though.
X2 (was H5/E4/B5) was

...

Dmitry Badiarov


Playing his 'cello da spalla.  I say 'his' - because he was also the builder of this instrument.  So that's pretty special.



3rd place
X1 (50% in the final, but weighted average over all 4 rounds was 71%)
"there's an old-fashioned feel to the playing that tells me this is not a HIP performance, & so I suspect it will not appeal to HIPsters"
"[Suite 6] weakest part of a cycle with some very high peaks"
"There's a depth and a heaviness to the sound"


3 voters placed this one last in the final group.  In earlier rounds he did much better and always looked like a likely finalist, easily winning his groups in both round 1 (3rd & 2nd suites) and round 2 (6th suite).
X1 (was H2/E5/B1) was

...

Jean-Guihen Queyras


The established GMG favourite and top recommendation, to judge by the Bach Cello Suites thread.  Surprising to see opinion so divided when it came to the crunch here.



2nd place
X4 (57% in the final, but weighted average over all 4 rounds was 62%)
"a performance of great gentleness, tenderness, sensitivity"
"Exclamation mark at the end. Not every-day Bach, but special"
"trying too hard"


3 voters placed him 1st, but he very nearly didn't make it out of round 1, since he placed only 4th in his group in that round (beaten by Fournier, Badiarov and Queyras).  Had no such trouble in round 2 though, slid through to the final with ease.
X4 (was G5/E1/B7) was

...

Gavriel Lipkind


In contrast to Queyras, Lipkind divides opinions and has a bit of a reputation for 'going too far'.  In this 5th Suite he is quite restrained (by his own standards) and the result is a terrific 2nd place.


1st place - oh, hang on a bit ...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 23, 2015, 02:35:40 AM
1st place
X3 (78% in the final, but weighted average over all 4 rounds was 77%)
"perhaps a certain self-consciousness or fussiness in the performance"
"the breathing here reaches the point of distraction"
"this feels like a confession, exultant but with all kinds of shadows around it"


Make no mistake, this 1st place is no fluke. 

This cellist scored 100% in the preliminary round (ie everyone who heard it, asked to hear more).
In round 1 he came 2nd in group (to Pergamenschikow).
In round 2 he was 1st in group and 1st overall, placed either 1st or 2nd by every voter.
In this final, and in fact through all 4 rounds, no voter has ever placed him last in group. 4 voters placed him 1st.
His average over 4 rounds, weighted or not, however you count it, was easily the highest of all 30.

X3 (was G4/F2/C6) was

...

Arnau Tomàs

(http://www.aukadia.net/pix/tomas.jpg)   (http://www.aukadia.net/pix/tomas2.jpg)
This appears to be unavailable as CD from Amazon US.
As I write, it is available as CD via Amazon UK ("3 in stock") http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P08LCEA (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P08LCEA)
or it is available as downloads from both sources.
The record label is Aglae Música which appears to be a very small Spanish independent.
http://www.aglaemusica.com/web/en/produccion_discografica/1%C2%BA-produccion-aglae-musica/ (http://www.aglaemusica.com/web/en/produccion_discografica/1%C2%BA-produccion-aglae-musica/)

I don't have the recording details, but it was released in late 2014 so probably recorded earlier that year, possibly in some collegiate facility in Barcelona.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on April 23, 2015, 03:45:48 AM
Well, I spotted Lipkind, Queyras and Badiarov 8), but I do not know Tomàs. Very incidentally I ordered his set from JPC a few days ago, and it is at the moment on its way to me. I do not regret that purchase.

And thanks for planning this entertaining game aukhawk :)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Wakefield on April 23, 2015, 04:50:52 AM

Arnau Tomàs

(http://www.aukadia.net/pix/tomas.jpg)   (http://www.aukadia.net/pix/tomas2.jpg)
This appears to be unavailable as CD from Amazon US.
As I write, it is available as CD via Amazon UK ("3 in stock") http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P08LCEA (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00P08LCEA)
or it is available as downloads from both sources.
The record label is Aglae Música which appears to be a very small Spanish independent.
http://www.aglaemusica.com/web/en/produccion_discografica/1%C2%BA-produccion-aglae-musica/ (http://www.aglaemusica.com/web/en/produccion_discografica/1%C2%BA-produccion-aglae-musica/)

I don't have the recording details, but it was released in late 2014 so probably recorded earlier that year, possibly in some collegiate facility in Barcelona.

... this sounds as the Third GMG Universal Law: our favorite recordings are always demonically hard to find and released by the tiniest and mysterious labels.  :D

P.S.: Second Universal Law - covers of re-releases are ALWAYS uglier than the original covers...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: springrite on April 23, 2015, 06:08:24 AM
Just ordered the Tomas.

Now there are two left in stock...
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on April 23, 2015, 06:23:37 AM
Arnau a surprise to me, too... completely unique in moments.

Strange how, saturated, the fabulous other finalists didn't manage to convince as much anymore in the last Round.

I'm not a little pleased, though, that my un-blind testing and tasting for ionarts yielded results that aren't so far off.

Especially my early championing of Lipkind...

http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-cello-suites-bach-ii-fournier.html (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-cello-suites-bach-ii-fournier.html)
http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-cello-suites-bach-iii-gastinel.html (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-cello-suites-bach-iii-gastinel.html)


Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Mandryka on April 23, 2015, 06:46:51 AM


I know Arnau Tomas's set. I checked it out  when it came out because he's cellist for Cuarteto Casals, which is an ensemble I'm interested in.  He can be really fleet footed, light. And sometimes he can croon quite movingly. Altogether fun to hear.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on April 23, 2015, 07:10:07 AM
Very interesting!

I heard Queyras and Badiarov in every round. Queyras was my outright favorite in the prologue and the first two rounds, but slipped in the final (still 2nd, but closer to 3rd than 1st). A different configuration might have given him the crown. Badiarov was pretty good throughout. I had him last in the final, but that's not bad.

I did not hear Tomàs until the final. I thought his performance was at the same level as Queyras's, but his obtrusive breathing noises were the tiebreaker.

I heard Lipkind in all but the semi-final. Even though he was my clear choice in the 5th suite, he was so awful in the prologue and round 1 that I can't imagine listening to his set. I was shocked that he made it through.

I own 4 sets, all of which were eliminated in the prologue or round 1. I like Bylsma 1979, regardless of what the yokels in Group D say. ;) Queyras is going on my wishlist. I've been interested in Beschi (based on GMG comments and online samples) but unfortunately never heard him here.

Thanks to aukhawk for running this.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on April 23, 2015, 07:22:28 AM
Very interesting indeed! I have never heard of Arnau Tomàs but I did give him my second place vote. I must get that set.

Thanks again to aukhawk for running this particular blind comparison.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: North Star on April 23, 2015, 08:07:10 AM

I know Arnau Tomas's set. I checked it out  when it came out because he's cellist for Cuarteto Casals, which is an ensemble I'm interested in.  He can be really fleet footed, light. And sometimes he can croon quite movingly. Altogether fun to hear.
Ah yes, I have heard the Cuarteto's recordings. Splendid ensemble indeed.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 23, 2015, 08:18:51 AM
Oh, it was fun (I think  ;) )

FWIW I don't much like the Tomàs recording - I listened to one, maybe two of the suites and then consigned it to my 'rejects' virtual heap about 5 months ago.  It seemed to me that Queyras covers this ground better, and anyway I prefer more left-field versions like East or Wispelwey or indeed Lipkind (though his progress here was a revelation). 
And in particular I suspect the Tomàs ambience of being artificial - though I can't explain why this should bother me in the slightest (I'm fully conscious that most recordings are artificial things and not representative of any actual 'performance' - and I'm fine with that). 
I'd be interested to hear from :premont: when he gets the CD, about any recording details (venue) from the booklet.
(If it turns out it was recorded in here I'll be happy to eat my words!)
(http://www.advanceidiomas.com/files/ciudad/la-sagrada-familia_4746311blog_302.jpg)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on April 23, 2015, 08:37:48 AM

I'd be interested to hear from :premont: when he gets the CD, about any recording details (venue) from the booklet.
(If it turns out it was recorded in here I'll be happy to eat my words!)
(http://www.advanceidiomas.com/files/ciudad/la-sagrada-familia_4746311blog_302.jpg)

 ;D

Yes, I shall report about this.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: (: premont :) on April 24, 2015, 01:56:12 AM

Yes, I shall report about this.

Arrived today - have not listened to it yet.
Recorded in a church in Barcelona - not the Sagrada Familia, but:

Església parroquial de Sant Marti, Granera (Barcelona) July 2014.

Cello: Anselmo Curletto - Torino 1909
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: amw on April 24, 2015, 02:22:55 AM
he's cellist for Cuarteto Casals
Looks like the rule of GMG chamber blind comparisons is shaping up to be "Harmonia Mundi ensembles from the last 5 years > everything"

Thanks for hosting, it was fun to read :)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: xochitl on April 24, 2015, 02:40:09 AM
the Arnau Tomas is on spotify for those interested
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jfdrex on April 24, 2015, 01:17:15 PM
aukhawk ~ Many thanks for organizing this exercise. :)

I prefaced my earlier remarks re. the X-Files Final Four by saying that this was a blind listening for me--and the results reveal that indeed it was.  I am not familiar with any of finalists (except, very slightly, Queyras); obviously I'm still stuck in the Fournier generation. :laugh:   So the final "reveal" was quite a revelation for me.  My general lack of knowledge about these particular cellists (and of recent performing styles in this music) made it all the more fascinating to read other listeners' reactions to the various performances along the way.

But I'm not giving up my Fournier recording! ;)

Cheers,

John
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Peter Power Pop on April 24, 2015, 08:50:45 PM
the Arnau Tomas is on spotify for those interested

https://play.spotify.com/album/0t9UoKs0S1X8SXZcjog8qS (https://play.spotify.com/album/0t9UoKs0S1X8SXZcjog8qS)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/613hlPpmwQL._SL1103_.jpg)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aukhawk on April 25, 2015, 02:08:20 AM
Església parroquial de Sant Marti, Granera (Barcelona) July 2014.

Thanks - mmm, churchy.  Good venue - not a lot of passing traffic to worry about!  (Maybe a few nesting birds - vultures maybe.)

Looks like the rule of GMG chamber blind comparisons is shaping up to be "Harmonia Mundi ensembles from the last 5 years > everything"
Thanks for hosting, it was fun to read :)

Fun to do, too.  As it happens, my current favourite among the Sonatas and Partitas is yet another HM recording ...

Just for interest folks, and not to be taken too seriously, here is a rundown of all 30 participants.  The 'score' for each consists of the round they reached, followed by their overall average score - so for example Schiff (2.61) reached round 2, and scored 61% overall.

=====================

   1. Arnau Tomàs              3.77   C6//F2/G4/X3
===2. Gavriel Lipkind          3.62   B7//E1/G5/X4
===2. Jean-Guihen Queyras      3.71   B1//E5/H2/X1   ** promoted with very good average score
===4. Dmitry Badiarov (spalla) 3.49   B5//E4/H5/X2
===4. Boris Pergamenschikow    2.64   C8//F6/G3   ** promoted with very good average score
===4. Heinrich Schiff          2.61   A10//D3/H4  ** promoted with very good average score

   7. Pierre Fournier          2.53   C2//E6/G1
   8. Alexander Kniazev        2.48   C5//D1/H3
   9. Paolo Pandolfo (gamba)   2.51   A8//D5/G2
  10. Paolo Beschi             1.58   A3//D6      ** promoted with good average score
  11. Vito Paternoster         1.55   A1//D2      ** promoted with good average score
  12. Angela East              2.45   C1//F5/H1
  13. Patricia McCarty (viola) 1.49   C3//F4
  14. Truls Mørk               1.50   C10//F3
  15. Ophélie Gaillard(2)      1.40   C7//F1
  16. Jaap ter Linden (Brilliant) 1.38   B10//E2
  17. Anner Bylsma(1)          1.36   A5//D4
==18. Pablo Casals (Pristine)  1.30   B2//E3
==18. Yo-Yo Ma                 0.42   A2      ** promoted as could have gone through (instead of Casals)
==20. Paul Tortelier           0.42   A4
==20. Bruno Cocset             0.40   C4
==20. Maurice Gendron          0.40   C9
==20. Winona Zelenka           0.40   B6
==24. Isang Enders             0.33   A7
==24. Steven Isserliss         0.33   A9
==24. Anner Bylsma(2)          0.30   B8
==24. Lynn Harrell             0.30   B9
==24. Mstislav Rostropovich    0.30   B4
==24. Pieter Wispelwey(3)      0.30   B3
  30. Janos Starker (Mercury)  0.08   A6
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on April 25, 2015, 03:24:16 AM
And I would consider Starker and Wispelwey to be big favourites of mine  :( ::)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Pat B on April 25, 2015, 04:28:13 PM
And I would consider Starker and Wispelwey to be big favourites of mine  :( ::)

That Starker is not my favorite, but it's certainly not bad. I'd rather listen to it than some of the higher finishers, including one finalist.

Having participated in a few of these blind comparisons, I have learned that the value is in my own listening, not the final tally.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on April 25, 2015, 10:36:42 PM
And I would consider Starker and Wispelwey to be big favourites of mine  :( ::)

Wispelwey 3 or Wispelwey 2? The latter is one of my absolute favorites (or so I'd like to think). The latter I didn't warm to even when I really wanted to and tried, knowingly. Not that it's bad in any way, I find... but I would have been more shocked had Wispy-2 seen such an early exit.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on April 25, 2015, 11:04:10 PM
Wispelwey 3 or Wispelwey 2? The latter is one of my absolute favorites (or so I'd like to think). The latter I didn't warm to even when I really wanted to and tried, knowingly. Not that it's bad in any way, I find... but I would have been more shocked had Wispy-2 seen such an early exit.

This is the one that I have...


(https://cburrell.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/bach-cello.gif)


....which I think is 2?
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: jlaurson on April 25, 2015, 11:41:53 PM
This is the one that I have...

(https://cburrell.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/bach-cello.gif)
Bach
Cello Suites
Wispelwey 2

....which I think is 2? (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000C2B4/goodmusicguide-20)

Correctamundo!

The blind listening test meanwhile included this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lAy4wM6yL.jpg)
Bach
Cello Suites
Wispelwey 3 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B008TUDI2A/goodmusicguide-20)

...whereas "Wispy 1" is this one:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/213RNWNCS1L.jpg)
Bach
Cello Suites
Wispelwey 1 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000003UXB/goodmusicguide-20)
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Mandryka on April 25, 2015, 11:52:23 PM
I prefer Wispelwey 3 to Wispelwey 2. I love the way Wispelwey punctuates the music with silences in 3, I think 3 is beautifully ornamented, rhythmically iinteresting, rhetorically eloquent. I could hear nothing so interesting in 2. And I love the cello he uses in 3.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Que on April 26, 2015, 12:06:14 AM
I haven't heard Wispelwey 3, but take 2 was definitely for me a step down in comparison with take 1...
Though in all honesty Wispelwey did in  take 2 his own personal thing, while his 1st take still has the fingerprints of his teacher, Bijlsma, all over it...

Q
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Mandryka on April 26, 2015, 02:26:40 AM
I agree with this, at least if you mean Bylsma 1.

I wish there were recordings of the violin music as interesting as Wispelwey 3 and Bylsma 2.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: aligreto on April 26, 2015, 02:31:52 AM
Correctamundo!

The blind listening test meanwhile included this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lAy4wM6yL.jpg)
Bach
Cello Suites
Wispelwey 3 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B008TUDI2A/goodmusicguide-20)

...whereas "Wispy 1" is this one:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/213RNWNCS1L.jpg)
Bach
Cello Suites
Wispelwey 1 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000003UXB/goodmusicguide-20)

Thank you for that clarification.
Title: Re: Blind comparison: Bach Cello Suites
Post by: Gorio1968 on August 29, 2021, 09:10:46 AM
I often revisit this thread for listening ideas, but with so many recent releases I wonder how many of them would make the cut?