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...but have performances and recordings withstood the test of time?
I sampled Cluyten's Una Barque and it was immediately more evocative than Slatkin's.
Of course the crown jewel of any Ravel cycle is the Daphnis. Opinions?
The Ravel is part of a bigger set: Erato has released a big box of Cluyten's mono and stereo releases.
I've got both original Angel box set ( mono ) & Testament reissue box set. Impressive low level details and low noise floor but the stereo reissue still contains some amount of distortion and dynamic ceiling at the orchestra climax. Strings, particularly violin solo and massed strings sound thin and losing some natural colours and body. Original Angle mono box sounds more natural in strings but lacks details and dynamics compared to the stereo reissue. I can only imagine the original UK pressing must be stupendous!
Performance wise, It is masterfully done with varying tempos to keep the story telling fresh along with many layers of instrumental details and expressive dynamic contrasts make this set outstanding rendition of the work. Not as corny as Leinsdorf, Not as pretty and stand offish as Karajan and not as keyed up as Cantelli. Balance is just about perfect for me to serve up the music's intent. Pity that it gets congested at the dynamic peak bringing me down to the reality. I think the only time I did not hear a some sort of distortion at the climax was when heard the Haitink/BSO at the Carnegie a few years back. (triple goosebumps when the voiceless chorus kicked in!) That was a nice surprise.
My other favourite Daphns is Boulez/Cleveland.
Well grounded friendly but ellegant rendition. Melody line is outlined clearly yet maintaining rich harmonic blends. I love the flute solo in it.
Just listened to Boulez with the Berlin
Good recording with the Boulez clarity of line. Have not heard the Cleveland
the wonder, mysteriousness, and darker, danker elements better, such as the low harp plucks and string glissandi transitioning into the opening of the Sunrise theme.
The original instruments weren't as clarifying as I'd hoped, but the opening flute solo was very transporting, boring bits of the first act still a bit boring. A very "bright" take on the entire sunrise scene, much like Monteux's but not as expedient: very sensitive phrasing/shaping of the long lines over the woodwinds warbling. (I listened to Cluytens in the same section and he takes it as a faster clip; not my preference.)
I had the Boulez on Lp and thought he made the best case for Act One.
In which case it's only the second suite (same with Karajan and Cantelli AFAIR). I just re-listened to the Leinsdorf/LAPO suite 2 a few months ago, and I was surprised at how good the SQ was - better than the SQ on a lot of the other recordings in the Capitol classical catalogue from that time.
BTW, what did you find corny about it? ;-)
The Leinsdorf recording was issued on 2-track tape. The sound is excellent on the tape, but not the very best that Capitol did during the early stereo period. Yes, sound quality was all over the place. Big Band and other popular recordings consistently got very good recordings. With classical recordings Stokowski usually received excellent sound. His Planets recording with LA Phil is outstanding and, I suppose, a little "Hollywoodish" with his additions to the scoring. However, it has a large dynamic range, deep bass, and a big open sound, unlike other early Capitol recordings.
I suspect the variable sound quality is due to the use of different engineers and even to different recording philosophies. Capitol had been bought by English EMI, and some of the classical recordings sound like early English stereo recordings using a Blumlein miking and a more distant pickup. Early recordings by Felix Slatkin and Carmen Dragon ended up as very good or simply mediocre. The only way to know is to listen to the recordings.
Most of those Steinberg/Pittsburgh recordings on Capitol are really dullsville IMHO (in terms of SQ). I recently listened to one of his Wagner excerpts albums which, according to the booklet notes, was recorded in a purist, minimally microphoned way. The notes to the Leinsdorf Debussy/Ravel album suggest that this LAPO recording was not nearly as minimalist (just judging from the number of microphones listed). But to my ears, it sounds way better than the Steinberg album. Fortunately, Steinberg and the PSO were liberated from the confines of Capitol's engineering when they signed their contract with Command Classics (although those Command recordings may not qualify as completely purist, since Robert Fine's team employed seven microphones for them - unlike their earlier celebrated three-microphone efforts for Mercury). And now I'm going off on a tangent, but I'd also like to mention that there's a modern company which uses seven microphones for their symphonic recordings with great results (two-channel only): the German company, Acousence, which records second and third level German orchestras and makes them sound excellent indeed - I have almost their whole symphonic catalog in 24/96 downloads, and I really enjoy them.
I agree with you that the most frustrating aspect of many of the Capitol classical recordings was the lack of openness in the sound.
I've only got a Pickwick 33 budget reissue but recall how surprised I was in terms of fidelity. ( .50 cent find at a thrift store! ) And yes I agree most classical Capitol offerings have been poor from other records I have. I have to wonder what they did to them cuz, their popular titles are much nicer. Sinatra, Cole et all...
Very "Hollywood bound" ( Franz Waxman Rebecca-esque :) ) but certainly colourful and entertaining.
Tempo is slower than Canteli's but it's expressive and dreamy, keeping luxurious feel and touch of mystery throughout. I know you do not like this type of meaningless adjectives but sorry I don't know how else to articulate it!
It just reminds of a review I read from Tully Potter, accusing Reiner and the CSO of having a "Hollywood Sound" on one of their recordings! ;-)
Nah.. maybe expressive but not as corny as some others from the same era. There seems to be a fine line. ( I know this stuff is subjective! )
Listening to Reiner's work, styling isn't that dated to my ears. There's some human quality to them that missing from many of today's ultra polished orchestration style. Certain technique or dynamic shading that makes a large score to an interesting story telling rather than turning into a sea of pretty wallpaper.
P.S. Who's Tully Potter?And which recording is he referring to?
I can't remember the specific recording unfortunately. Tully Potter is well known reviewer in the UK, who (I think) specializes in older recordings - especially (from what I can tell) having to do with string players and ensembles. Maybe one of our UK inmates here can elaborate and/or correct what I said.
It looks like the entire box set is up at Tidal.
Nice find, thanks!
And I had Cluytens' Daphnis et Chloé very early on in my LP days. At that time, I was somewhat disappointed that the performance seemed so laid back compared to Munch and (in the second suite) Paray, but over time, I grew to appreciate the Cluytens performance more and more. I still like these performances - they're slower, and, as you say, more evocative than some of the higher-powered recordings of this repertoire. They also feature those piquant tones of the old style of French wind and brass playing which was shortly to disappear. (There was already much less of this individual tone quality in the Martinon set recorded a few years later - nevertheless, I still have Martinon's Daphnis too (on a quad DVD-Audio). I'd say that if you like the woodwinds and brass on the old Suisse Romande recordings, you'd like the Cluytens set too.
BTW, I just got that Praga re-master of the Monteux/LSO performance (originally on Decca/London) and I'm really pleasantly surprised by what a great job that Czech guy did in the re-mastering. I wonder if Praga licensed a copy of the master from Decca or if they used a commercial reel-to-reel tape as the basis for their own reissue (à la HDTT). Whatever they did, it sure turned out well!
My own experience is as above (vinyl BTW).
" They also feature those piquant tones of the old style of French wind and brass playing which was shortly to disappear." Unless, of course, you hear the HIP version of Daphnis from Roth & Les Siecles :-)
I'll definitely download everything else, like the Couperin, Alborada, and especially Mother Goose. I sampled the final, Fairy Garden and the strings sound gorgeous.
My set is the Testament reissue. I've not noticed the distortion and dynamic limiting reported by Kuma but is is a number of years since I listened to the set so I will try to find time in the next couple of days to play it .
I have seen the Cluytens/Erato issue in the new releases list on Qobuz so I will try that too. I'm not yet a subscriber to Qobuz Sublime+ so 16/44.1 for me ( or more precisely 17/44.1 :-)) for the time being.
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