Author Topic: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived  (Read 458 times)

Offline barryguerrero

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CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« on: January 21, 2020, 12:00:18 PM »
I just want to express that I'm very satisfied with DG's issue of the N.-S./Philly M8. While the sound is a tad congested at peaks within Part I, Part I is exciting as all hell. It reminds me very much of Bernstein/LSO. The playing of 'Philly' during the brief orchestral interlude (the one with bonging of the deep bells), as well as throughout the big double fugue, is just incredible. The "Gloria" is about as good as it ever gets, as well (excellent offstage brass).

Part II has some of the usual hits and misses in the vocal department. John Relyea is particularly impressive on the bass-baritone solo. Second Mezzo (contralto) M. Fujimura does a nice job on her "Maria Aegyptiaca" solo. More important, the 'three penitent women' do a nice job together on their trio ("Die du grossen Sunderinnen"). Going back much earlier, I think the two orchestral outbursts in Part II's introductory music are quite impressive, particularly the second one (track 10).

A big surprise to me, is that Anthony Dean Griffey does a really nice job on "Blicket auf" - much better than than on his earlier recording with MTT/SFS. I've never crazy about him as a tenor, but he's much improved here. Yes, the tam-tam smashes could be bigger at the end, but I like how N.-S. doesn't let the last chord just sit there like a turd. He actually shapes the last chord and keeps it 'dynamic' to the final cut-off.

While this isn't good enough to send all the other M8's in my collection to the trash bin or used cd store, I would still count it as the best overall recording in that collection. The treatment of the organ is simply not an issue for me - there's plenty of it there on my system. I'll still keep other ones for different reasons.

For example, I like Richard Leech (tenor) and the huge tam-tam smashes on the Maazel/V.P.O. recording, in spite of Maazel's lethargic tempi (except at the end of Part II, where he's too fast), and there being almost zero organ. There are many aspects I like about the Colin Davis/B.R.S.O. one, in spite of some problems with vocal balances (it sounds much better on the BR Klassik issue). Boulez/DG has a great ending to Part I,  and boasts the excellent Johan Botha (tenor). Markus Stenz has the best tam-tam smashes at the end of anybody, etc. 

But for me, this N.-S./Philly one clicks off more boxes than any other one. It's certainly a fitting tribute to Stokowski.

Offline waderice

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2020, 12:16:55 PM »
I know that both Barry and James Meckley have been wondering why I've been so quiet with all of the excitement going on about the issuance of this recording.  The simple answer is that my own copy of the DG CD didn't arrive until yesterday (January 29, 2020), yet despite the fact that I made the initial announcement of the release of this performance in a similar thread back at the end of this past November, plus the fact that both Barry and I each ordered our own copies from Amazon.com Germany about the same time.  I guess that since the first letter of both Barry's and James' last names come before mine, I figured that Amazon.com Germany decided to mail copies of the CD in alphabetical precedence.  Also, I didn't want to comment until I had not only listened to the DG CD, plus also compare the original WRTI radio broadcast with the DG CD.  That didn't happen until this morning, as I had to be elsewhere last evening.

Like Barry, I too am very excited about the resultant recording.  I listened to both the DG CD and original WRTI broadcast recording before coming to write this.  My system consists of a classic Dynaco PAT-5 Bi-FET preamplifier with Dynaco Stereo 150 power amplifier, with Definitive Technology tower speakers and Yamaha 450 Universal Format Disc Player.

Let me just say from the beginning that aside from the compression problem of the broadcast, I think both the DG CD and WRTI broadcast of Sunday, March 13, 2016 are quite likely sourced from different recorded performances, even down to each having a different source from different concerts for both parts of the symphony.  I tend to believe that DG may have made four separate recordings from each of the performances.  The DG CD seems to have shriller string sound in Part I, plus the soloists sound more distant in Part I than they do in Part II.  The sound for Part II on the DG CD seems to settle more into a more normal sound pattern, with the soloists coming in for closer microphone placement.  Indicative of the difference sources for Part I of the DG CD, the double fugue (track 6) takes on a faster tempo than does the WRTI broadcast.  Since the CD itself is three minutes longer than the 80-minute maximum capacity of the typical CD, DG likely had to have found it difficult to squeeze those three extra minutes onto that one CD without going too far beyond what would be the absolute maximum before running out of CD space.

I won't bog myself down into commenting on the quality of performance delivery by either of the eight soloists, but the choral singing of both of the main choruses is probably the best I've ever heard.  Even if the American Boychoir is few in numbers, they did an admirable job in making up for the lack thereof.

I do agree with James Meckley about the WRTI broadcast having a better organ/orchestra balance than in the DG CD.  Michael Stairs, the organist, unfortunately passed away from cancer in August of 2018, so the Philly Orchestra lost a long-time musician for that instrument in his passing.  I'm glad he was able to be part of this memorable concert recording.  Bass drum rolls at the appropriate places in the score certainly made their impact felt on my system.  Mezzo-soprano soloist Stephanie Blythe (Mulier Samaritana) was replaced by Elizabeth Bishop at the last minute due to illness.

Those of you who have the DG CD may want to know that the photo of the entire choral forces of the performance were cut out from the sides of page 2.  So that photo ideally should be rectangular, not square.  The lighting in the Kimmel Center Verizon Hall isn't that ideal, which left the photographic perspective of those singers off to the sides not visible.  So there is some antiphonal effect to what you hear in the recording.

While listening to both of these recorded sources of a most memorable performance, it was great to relive my memories rereading the concert program and newspaper clippings of what will be one of the greatest concerts I have ever attended in my life.  It was one of the best $68-dollar ticket investments I have ever made.

This 2016 M8 live performance should be placed up there along with Stokowski's historic 1950 performance and Horenstein's 1959 Albert Hall performances.

Wade

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2020, 02:57:38 PM »
Wade, my German Amazon copy just arrived today. I ordered two copies from U.S. Amazon, once those became available to order. Obviously, those arrived quicker. I'm giving one to my best friend as a birthday present. He's a bigger admirer - rightfully so - of the Horenstein M8. I have a another person in mind for the third copy. Anyway, like you, I think this new one is worthy of the Horenstein.

While N.-S.'s performance maybe slightly short on small detail (it actually isn't, but I won't argue the point here), there's a sense of this being an important occasion for everyone. If anything, I think the adult choirs do  'over-sing' a tad, here and there. But that's OK - I don't have a problem with that. I do wish the tam-tam smashes at the end of Part II had been recorded a bit closer. However, I have Stenz, Nott, Colin Davis and Maazel/V.P.O. for big gong smashes. More than anything, I like how N.-S. keeps changing the timbre of the very final Eb, simply by the way he staggers the crescendos of various instruments (organ, then bass drum, then high brass). It doesn't just sit there like a lump of clay. Everything keeps building to the final cut-off.

Offline waderice

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2020, 03:27:20 PM »
Barry, I took note of your praise for the Davis M8.  It looks like it was initially issued on SACD, but the later issue on regular CD.  If I can come across a copy of the SACD in halfway decent condition, I'll try to get it.

I just may get a copy of the N-S performance as an eventual gift for a clergy friend of mine who lives here in the Philly area but who normally doesn't attend Philly Orchestra concerts.  I've been slowly acquainting him with Mahler, but don't want to overdo it.  With some people, it does take some time.

Wade

Offline Vehemence

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2020, 04:16:51 PM »
I tend to believe that DG may have made four separate recordings from each of the performances. 

This hits the nail on head for me, recording wise. This DG release is heavily patched, and on my system this readily apparent.

I purchased the download from Presto (24/96), I'm not really a believer in hi-rez, but 24 bit depth is nice for the lower noise floor, just in case. My system is made up of 3 Hypex stereo amps feeding a 3-way bookshelf from Selah Audio called 'Tempesta'. My pre-amp is a Deqx 2.6P and my transport is a Sony universal 4k disc player. All of my music is played off a hard drive. My system is active, hence the needing for 6 channels of amplification. I also have room treatments. My system was built to be as transparent as possible.

First, I would say that this is a very exciting, well played and sung Mahler 8. The trombones are marvelous! Great choirs, and a pretty good batch of soloists. However, the obvious patching in the recording makes it odd for me to listen too. Every time a soloist sings, they are at a different depth in the soundstage. Often time going from very forward, to buried in the orchestra. It's jarring when a soloist sings at one point in space, and then alto comes in at a totally different point in space. It sounds as if one is standing 10 feet in front of the other. This happens with the choirs as well, at times one choir is very forward, then other choirs are distant, or maybe actually hovering over the orchestra; this happened during part II with the boys choir.

I would agree with James and Wade concerning the organ; the lows sound excellent, mids and highs very recessed. I also found a lot of congestion in the larger sections, and maybe even some compression. It also came across as very vertical with not much depth to it. 

Honestly, even though I enjoyed the recording, I don't know how much mileage I'll get out of it due to these issues. It's pretty sad that such an exciting performance can be marred by thoughtless mastering.

If you're listening, James, I'd be curious to know how this sounds through your Stax.

Chris

Offline James Meckley

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2020, 08:18:41 PM »
If you're listening, James, I'd be curious to know how this sounds through your Stax.

Good to hear from you, Chris. I continue to feel—as you do—that this was a very fine performance of M8 and thereby an excellent exemplar of J. Gordon Holt's First Law of Audio: "The better the performance, the worse the recording—and vice versa." My Stax Lambdas reveal the spatial anomalies you describe in all their glory, plus some questionable segment joins here and there. The moving about of instruments and voices reminds me very much of the work DG(G) did for HvK in the 70s and 80s.

From someone who owns the actual CD (mine is also one of the official digital downloads), I'd like to know who was on the production and engineering team. Was it the crew of German Tonmeisters who used to be in charge or have they started farming it out to independent contractors?
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler

Offline waderice

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2020, 05:48:15 AM »
From someone who owns the actual CD (mine is also one of the official digital downloads), I'd like to know who was on the production and engineering team. Was it the crew of German Tonmeisters who used to be in charge or have they started farming it out to independent contractors?

Here is the CD production team, as listed in the accompanying disk booklet:

Executive Producer:  Sid McLauchlan
Recording Producers:  Alexander Van Ingen, Andrew Mellor
Balance Engineer:  Andrew Mellor
Recording Engineers:  Brett Cox, Charles Gagnon
Editing:  Claire Hay, Andrew Mellor

I don't recognize any of these names from past DG recording projects.  Does anyone?  Maybe they might be NPR technicians as opposed to DG ones, and DG simply contracted out the concert recordings for publication to their own label.  Who knows?  And judging from this list, no wonder we're getting multiple recording perspectives.

Wade
« Last Edit: January 31, 2020, 05:50:48 AM by waderice »

Offline waderice

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2020, 06:32:51 AM »
"This was a very fine performance of M8 and thereby an excellent exemplar of J. Gordon Holt's First Law of Audio: "The better the performance, the worse the recording—and vice versa."

This "law" may or may not apply to two previous famous live M8's that grace many of our collections.  The 1950 Stokowski recording was recorded off of a live telephone line in NYC by famous recording engineer Stephen Temmer, who recorded many of the Reiner/CSO live performances from 1957-58 in Orchestra Hall, Chicago, thus giving us many Reiner/CSO performances in good sound that he never recorded commercially.  But we don't know who set up the microphone arrangement for that Stokowski performance.  The 1959 Horenstein M8 at Albert Hall was supposedly recorded using a Blumlein minimalist microphone array that resulted in an excellent-sounding recording, if you have the BBC Legends CD of that recording.  I don't know who or what technicians were involved in making that recording, though I might suppose that BBC ones were the likely suspects.

Wade

Offline James Meckley

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2020, 10:00:54 AM »
Here is the CD production team, as listed in the accompanying disk booklet:

Executive Producer:  Sid McLauchlan
Recording Producers:  Alexander Van Ingen, Andrew Mellor
Balance Engineer:  Andrew Mellor
Recording Engineers:  Brett Cox, Charles Gagnon
Editing:  Claire Hay, Andrew Mellor

Thanks for this information, Wade. Andrew Mellor is the owner of AJM Productions, a London-based independent music production company specializing in classical music production, engineering, editing, and mastering. Mr. Mellor is the Philadelphia Orchestra's executive producer & recording engineer, travelling to the US specifically to record Yannick Nézet-Séguin's concerts with the orchestra.

As to Mr. Holt's First Law, I don't believe he was entirely serious in proposing it. It obviously doesn't apply in all cases and may not even apply in most cases, but it applies often enough to have the ring of truth about it and to appeal to those of us with a sense of humor leaning toward the ironic.
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler

Offline Vehemence

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2020, 07:49:58 AM »
J. Gordon Holt's First Law of Audio: "The better the performance, the worse the recording—and vice versa."

With the recording capabilities we have today, especially among the smaller labels like BIS, Channel Classics, and Reference Recordings, a release like this from DG is really almost shameful. Especially with a good performance like this. If these boutique labels can consistently put out great recordings with exceptional sound quality, surely DG with their massive budget could put a little more effort into what they put out.

This first law of audio, should have been overturned in court.

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2020, 10:36:26 PM »
I feel differently. I personally pressured DG to get this recording out . They made this huge announcement of expanding N.-S.'s contract, yet they issued nothing but Rachmaninoff piano concertos (which do nothing to highlight N.-S.'s conducting capabilities, except in regards to his skills as an accompanist). To me, that's what was shameful. It may very well have been that DG had no intention of issuing this, prior to extending N.-S.'s contract. I will gladly take it in this state than to not have it at all. It's simply not that bad, folks - truly, it isn't. The Solti recording, for example, sounds far more gimmicky, even on very mediocre equipment. The MTT recording may have better sound quality, but the final track ("Alles vergaengliche") sounds so sterile -  it was obviously from a separate take. My other personal favorite - the Colin Davis/BRSO one - is far more botched as a recording. There are few Mahler 8 performances this good from beginning to end. Just speaking for myself, the recording of it is good enough.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 09:57:46 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline waderice

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2020, 04:19:08 AM »
No recording can be totally free of technical faults in the recording itself.  I would rather have an excellent performance and can live with technical deficiencies in the recording.  This recording meets those criteria.  I'm very happy we have it.  My two-cents' worth.  And as Barry did, I probably will buy two extra copies for friends as gifts.

Wade

Offline pseudolongino

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 08:22:58 AM »
listening to it on spotify, seems wounderfully engineered if nothing else
i wonder though, how did they put 83 minutes into one cd? will i be able to play it on an old denon?

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: CD of Nezet-Seguin/Philly M8 has arrived
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2020, 04:23:17 AM »
I agree. Considering that DG didn't have control of the recording process from the start, I think they did a good of deciding priorities in the mix, as well as the 'balances' in general.

 

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