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Collection Listening Log

Discussion in 'classical' started by Todd A, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    A long-time favorite, it was wonderful to revisit this. Fricsay's Introduzione is dark and tense, but he maintains a degree of flexibility that someone like Reiner does not. The winds evoke a nice folk sound in select passages, to boot. The Giuoco delle coppie is well done, though it lacks the precision of some other versions, but Fricsay makes it sound more musically whole and integral to the complete work. The Elegia, at a taut 7'12", is dark and eerie when it should be, and biting and intense to a degree not found in others. In contrast, the somewhat more relaxed Intermezzo interrotto allows the beautiful theme to emerge more lovely than normal, and the interruption to be more comical. The Finale, at a zippy 9'01", gives equal weighting to both the folk music and formal, structural aspects of the music and generates oodles of excitement. The excellent mono sound does not hamper things, either. (And the accompanying MSPC, despite being in mono, is one of the best ever, too.) Still a favorite.


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  2. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Pierre Boulez's New York CfO. The dark hued opening to the Introduzione sounds dark hued and that's about it, and when the winds enter, they sound meticulous, and the timing is just right. As the movement unfolds, everything is neat and tidy and precise. And a bit cold. This recording is a prime example as Boulez as cold interpreter. I mean, sure, the Giuoco delle coppie is well done, with ample details, and thanks to Boulez's penchant for clarity and CBS' for multiple microphones, one can hear the instruments paired off and each string section phrase with ease, but the movement sounds stern. The Elegia sounds more episodic and underscored than eerie or moody. The Intermezzo interrotto sounds like very stern interpretations of what beautiful and humorous music sounds like - as in, you will find this attractive and that humorous, or else. The Finale is on the very fast and potent side, and as such generates a degree of excitement and engagement by virtue of those two traits alone. This one just misses for me.

    Playing is excellent, and sound is pretty good, but not the best for its age. I have a Japanese market issue of all of Boulez's CBS Bartok from the early 90s, so I'm not sure if more recent iterations may sound better.



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  3. PsB

    PsB Citizen of Nowhere™

    This one has long been a favourite of mine. Fricsay managed to get an amazing performance from the RIAS orchestra, which wasn't exactly a virtuoso orchestra in those days, and to make them sound plausibly "Hungarian".
     
  4. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Boulez's Chicago CfO. Much better. The Introduzione displays more mystery and flexibility, precisely meted out. The massed violins sound edgy and glassy, though that isn't much of a drawback here. And though this first movement is notably quicker overall than the CBS recording, the greater tempo flexibility doesn't make it sound rushed at all. The Giuoco delle coppie is detailed and lighter than the preceding version, with some notably nifty bassoon playing. (How often does one focus on bassoon playing, bassoon players aside?) The Elegia is much better this go-round, tense and brooding, powerful in the tuttis, with eeriness paired up with precision to superb effect. Boulez brings the Intermezzo interrotto at a crisp 4'02", and if the beautiful theme may sound a bit too rushed, it still sounds lovely in an austere, almost Ravel Pavane sorta way, and the interruption is bold, pointed, and dynamically satisfying. Boulez allows himself a bit more breathing room in the Finale, at 9'24, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't take full advantage of the CSO brass or ability to generate a massive sound, because he does. Rather, he allows the slower passages to unfold at a very slightly more comfortable pace, making for more dramatic contrasts. Superb.



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  5. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Of the Old School Hungarian conductors who recorded the CfO, Antal Dorati on Mercury Living Presence has long been my favorite. His later Philips remake, next in the queue, just isn't as good. (I've yet to get around to his Hungarian State Orchestra recording on Hungaroton.) The up close and slightly harsh sound ends up lending some edge to the playing. Dorati has no time for tame Bartok. The brisk Introduzione merges mysterious night music and intensity to an extraordinary degree, blasting the music in the listener's face. Too much so? Maybe for others, but not for me, no sir. The Giuoco delle coppie is not as fast as some others, but Dorati manages to push some of the playing so that it seems like it is, and the execution is generally superb, though one doesn't get to revel in some fine details of the massed strings like in some other recordings. Dorati leads a taut and tense Elegia, as well, again merging some brooding mystery, more this time, and some sharp-edged, high-octane tuttis, with the strings scratching and the horns blatting with something of a gnarly sound. The Intermezzo interrotto could probably benefit from slightly more attractive playing in the first melody, but the interruption is great fun. The Finale, though not the fastest on record, is certainly one of the most exciting. Primo stuff.

    The much vaunted Living Presence sound is good but aged and a bit harsh.


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  6. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Dorati's Concertgebouw recording opens with a slightly slower Introduzione. The eerie nature of the night music comes out better in the early portion of the movement, and it sounds more relaxed in the latter parts, while the tuttis, which don't sound as brash as in the Mercury recording, sound a bit grander, and the RCO certainly generates a more refined sound. The Giuoco delle coppie is likewise a bit more relaxed overall, which, when paired with a better, more modern recording, allows more details to emerge within a broader whole. The Elegia is a bit quicker than on the Mercury recording, and while the excitement in the tuttis is less dramatic, the more nuanced and eerie aspects of the music are better realized here. The Intermezzo interrotto does enjoy more beautiful playing in the starting melody, and while the interruption is less humorous and vibrant, it sounds large in scale. The Finale is only one second slower overall than the Mercury recording, but from the opening fanfare on through, it lacks the drive and bite of the earlier recording, but it once again sounds more refined and larger scaled. There's certainly a lot to enjoy, but it lacks the edge and drive and excitement of the Mercury recording.



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  7. herb

    herb music live

    Today Shostakovich violin and cello concertos 1 and 2. Quite a journey....?
     
  8. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Janson's CfO. Well played, well paced, nicely detailed, nicely balanced, with nice dynamic contrasts, and a nice degree of energy, this recording is generally quite nice. It is also rather unmemorable. Unexceptionable and unexceptional.



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  9. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Davis leads the Swedes in a well executed Introduzione that does a good job evoking the night music sound and generating some energy. The Giuoco delle coppie is well done, but a bit low energy, while the Elegia is a bit laid back overall, except in the hard-hitting tuttis. The Intermezzo interrotto is well played, with an appealing opening melody and a raucous interruption, and the Finale has energy and drive but sounds kind of plain somehow. Ultimately, it's s sort of like Jansons' take in that it's well done but not really distinguished.


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  10. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Ansermet's recording may not have the best execution, but man does it have weighty low frequencies. In the Introduzione, they lend extra weight to a pretty tight overall conception, and if there's no real eeriness to the sound, there's ample intensity in the louder passages. (Of course, partnered with the low frequency heft is a smaller dynamic range than with modern recordings, but you can't have everything.) The brass playing sounds a bit slow and unsteady, which drains some impact from some passages. The Giuoco delle coppie is slow, slow, slow, and sometimes kind of sloppy. One can't imagine Reiner or Boulez being satisfied with the proceedings here. The Elegia does a pretty good job of doing the night music thing, but where the prior movement was too slow, this one is too fast, and sounds too rushed. The Intermezzo interrotto remains on the swift side overall, with a reasonably attractive opening melody and an OK but too rushed interruption. The Finale starts with a subdued and very slow, distended fanfare, and them moves to slow motion playing thereafter. The overall timing as eleven seconds slower than Reiner's, yet Ansermet sounds slower and less energetic for the duration of the movement. The world's unbest brass, some slightly askew balances, and one or two unusual dynamic shifts make the movement seem to sort of just go on and on. A whiff.



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  11. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Skrowaczewski's CfO with the Minnesota Orchestra. With engineering from Joanna Nickrenz and crew, sound is of course excellent. Skrow's take on the Introduzione is leisurely, making it long on mystery but a bit short on tension and excitement, though it sounds tightly executed and nicely dramatic. The likewise somewhat relaxed Giuoco delle coppie is well executed, but sounds a bit too slow. Unlike Previn, who leads a movement of the same length, it just doesn't seem to flow quite as well. The Elegia, like the opener is long on the eerie, night music elements, and generates a nice degree of intensity. The Intermezzo interrotto is nicely done, with a lovely opening melody, and a nice interruption. The Finale starts off a little slow, but Skrowaczewski expertly leads a build to playing possessed of some real excitement and energy, but more could have been used elsewhere. I want the recording to be better than it is.



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  12. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Karel Ancerl leads a nice Introduzione that gets the night music feel right overall, but the sound is a bit off. The flute sounds artificial, like it was boosted and/or re-EQd in the 'Gold' remastering process. The strings have a bright, sharp edge to the playing that doesn't sound quite natural, either, though the screeching effect is not entirely unpleasant. The somewhat leisurely Giuoco delle coppie starts off with a side drum that sounds like a good dollop of artificial reverb was added for impact, but otherwise unfolds with nice execution and a flowing sound. The Elegia again does an excellent job bringing out the night music feel, and the tuttis are effective, if somewhat limited dynamically. (Remastering can only do so much.) The Intermezzo interrotto's initial melody sounds a bit tart but appealing, and the interruption is nicely done if a bit slow, while the Finale, a bit broad in overall timing, generates plenty of excitement in the faster passages and generally works very well. The overprocessed and too bright remastered sound aside, this is an excellent recording.



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  13. herb

    herb music live

    Today

    Hindemith Orchestral music a 5 CD box from Brilliant Classics, mainly Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert Kegel. Nice simple music, some of which the Nazis hated and he got banned!
     
  14. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Slatkin's recording has really never been a favorite, and for a while the only reason I kept it around is because it includes both the original and revised endings. For this listening session, I went with the standard ending. The Introduzione sounds slower than its timing suggests and bland. There's not much excitement or mystery, though the somewhat boomy bass adds some body. The Giuoco delle coppie is likewise kind of bland, as is much of the Elegia, though the tuttis have a lot of power. The Intermezzo interrotto is nice enough, and the playing immediately after the trombone glissando is quite energetic if unclear. The Finale starts slow but quickly picks up steam into a more satisfying closing movement. So, four meh movements and one good one. Meh.




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  15. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Lenny's turn. Bernstein takes his time in the opening movement, but he knows how to lead a more dramatic and somewhat sleek take on the music. The night music element is there, but the surface sheen, even peeking through the hiss, makes it less noteworthy than the drama. The massed strings sting nicely, and there's a feeling of inevitability as the movement continues. Bernstein also takes his time with the Giuoco delle coppie, and the playing is all excellent, but the less dramatic nature of the music means that it is not as successful as the opening movement. The Elegia benefits from Bernstein's dramatic approach, with the spotlit violins adding more texture early on, and intense tuttis. The Intermezzo Interrotto is lovely (perhaps too much so) in the opening and closing portions, but the interruption is a bit slow. The Finale starts with a slow fanfare, but then Bernstein predictably and expertly pushes his band into some high speed, high energy playing. The violins sound as though they approach the corporate speed limit at times. The odd number movements are all superb, the two even number ones merely excellent. There's a lot to enjoy here, but it's not consistent enough.



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  16. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    The suspense is killing me... how many recordings to go before we find out which is the best? :)
     
  17. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    Thirteen more.
     
  18. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Paavo Jarvi's take with the Cincinnatians. Like Bernstein, Jarvi takes his time in the opening of the Introduzione. The more modern, more balanced sound has a broader dynamic range, but Jarvi never really generates a great deal of tension or excitement, and the more mysterious aspects of the music don't sound mysterious. The Giuoco delle coppie is nice enough, with some exaggerated diminuendo not found in other versions. The Elegia sounds best in the night music portions and less so in the intense section, and Jarvi brings out little details in the string that are typically more blended. He also opts to lead a light and playful opening to the Intermezzo interrotto, exaggerating the trombone glissando, and then zooms through the music immediately after. It's somewhat odd to write, but this movement truly stands out in this recording. The Finale, in contrast, is notably longer than normal, with a potent opening fanfare and then reasonably energetic and driven playing, and a nicely emphasized/underscored detail here or there, but nothing really sounds outstanding. It's a nice enough take overall, I guess.


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  19. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Next up, the first of Karajan's three recordings, here in mono with the Philharmonia. I've never tried the two, later Berlin recordings, so this is all I know of Fluffy's Bartok. It's not bad. Karajan leads a highly proficient Introduzione more focused on execution than atmosphere, though he does get some bite out of the strings. There's none of his Berlin-era string sound here. Karajan keeps the Giuoco delle coppie moving along, with nice execution, too, and in the Elegia he extracts decent night music playing, but he delivers a wallop in the more intense playing. Karajan generally gets the Intermezzo Interrotto right, though one might want slightly more exaggerated gestures in the interruption. There's really no complain about the Finale, tautly directed and well executed and high on excitement. Maybe the sound is a bit generic overall, but it gets the job done. Mono sound is fine. Overall, it's better than I remember it being.



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  20. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

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    Kubelik's 1978 BRSO performance. The Introduzione has an excellent balance of night music eeriness in the quieter music and heft and edge in the tuttis. Kubelik keeps things flowing throughout and transitions are smooth. The Giuoco delle coppie is snappy and generally fun-ish. No reason to weigh it down. Kubelik brings the Elegia in at a blistering 6'31". The night music portions are notably more intense than normal, while the climaxes sear. It's Bartok tinged with hints of angry Mahler. It kicks ass. The Intermezzo interrotto starts with a lovely first theme, and Kubelik deploys unique but perfectly judged rubato to lead to the interruption, starting slow then speeding up to the trombone glissando. The Finale is high voltage excitement almost throughout, only slowing down a bit right before the arrival of a coda. A great recording.

    Sound is entirely acceptable for a late-70s live performance, with the only minor distraction the slightly boomy sound to the timps.



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