Feb 26, 2018, 12:44:39 AM2/26/18
-He talks very highly of you, Ray..
As he should Andy. ;)
He is one of the greats of course.
While doing some searching, I came across a forum that had carried out some pretty exhaustive blind listening by different groups in the UK, France, and elsewhere, of many of the recordings of La Mer up to circa 2012. The results were very interesting, especially given the stringency which seem to have been applied.
Ashkenazy/Cleveland came out top of the heap. Bernstein/NYPO also figured highly. Boulez/Cleveland got high marks too, and rated third. I have the Boulez, but have been searching Amazon for copies of the Ashkenazy and the Bernstein (both seem oop) and only used copies can be located at this moment.
Anyway, courtesy of this forum (GMG Classical Music Forum), I'll print their list. The forum is well worth a visit for more detail.
Ray Hall, Taree
1. E1 - Vladimir Ashkenazy, Cleveland Orchestra (Decca, 4/1986) 3/1
2. G4 - Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra (DG, live 14/8/2003) 3/2
3. C3 - Pierre Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra (DG, 3/1993) 3/3
4. H4 - Michel Tabachnik, Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO, 6/2010) 3/4
5. D2 - Carlo Maria Giulini, Los Angeles Philharmonic (DG, 1980) 3/5
6ea. A2 - Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic (Columbia/Sony, 16/10/1961) 2/2/1,92
6ea. C2 - Charles Dutoit, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Decca, 1989) 2/2/1,92
8. B4 - Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker (DG, 9-10/3/1964) 2/2/2
9ea. D1 - Pierre Monteux, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 19/7/1954) 2/2/2,1
9ea. E4 - Michael Tilson Thomas, Philharmonia Orchestra (CBS, 1982) 2/2/2,1
11. H1 - Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam (Philips, 12/1976) 2/3/2
12. B3 - Jean Fournet, Česká filharmonie (Supraphon, 27/10/1963) 2/3/2,08
13. G2 - Serge Baudo, London Philharmonic Orchestra (EMI, 1/1986) 2/3/2,15
14. F1 - Jean Martinon, Orchestre national de l'ORTF (EMI, 1973) 2/3/2,2
15. A4 - Evgueni Svetlanov, Orchestre national de France (Naïve, 25/1/2001) 2/3/2,3
16ea. F2 - Eduard van Beinum, Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam (London, 5/1957) 1/2/2,56
16ea. F3 - Sergiu Celibidache, Münchner Philharmoniker (EMI, live 1992) 1/2/2,56
18. E3 - Charles Munch, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 1956) 1/3/2,44
19. H2 - Jean-Claude Casadesus, Orchestre national de Lille (Harmonia Mundi, 1993-1994) 1/3/2,6
20. G1 - Igor Markevitch, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux (DG, 5/1959) 1/3/2,64
21. A1 - Michel Plasson, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse (EMI, 1987-1988) 1/3/2,67
22ea. B2 - Alain Lombard, Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg (Erato, 10/1975) 1/3/2,75
22ea. C4 - Charles Munch, Orchestre national de la RTF (Montaigne, live 1962) 1/3/2,75
24. D4 - Ernest Ansermet, Orchestre de la Suisse romande (Decca/London, 1964) 1/3/2,78
25. A3 - Serge Koussevitzky, Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA Victor, 1938-1939) 1/4/2,75
26. F4 - Piero Coppola, Orchestre de la société des concerts du Conservatoire (HMV, 1932) 1/4/2,89
27. B1 - Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, Orchestre national de la RTF (Montaigne, live 1962) 1/4/3
28. C1 - Arturo Toscanini, BBC Symphony Orchestra (HMV, live 12/6/1935) 1/4/3,25
29. H3 - George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra (Columbia, 11-12/1/1963) 1/4/3,3
30. E2 - Roger Désormière, Česká filharmonie (Supraphon/Ultraphone, 10/1950) 1/4/3,33
31. G3 - Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony Orchestra (RCA, 1/6/1950) 1/4/3,36
32. D3 - John Barbirolli, Orchestre de Paris (EMI, 12/1968) 1/4/3,44
And, to answer karlhenning's questions, 32 versions were selected but I listened to almost 100 to prepare this comparison. It was not easy to decide in the end, I did probably made avoidable choices (Barbirolli for instance), but I guess a more limited selection would have meant no Tabachnik for instance, or no Baudo...
In the end this is only kind of a game. The Ashkenazy version is only the best version of this comparison made in 2012 with these precise 32 versions. It is not a definitive result, just an indication about what versions could be interesting to know and eventually buy (and I'm happy to see that many among participants have decided to buy versions whcih are actually not always finalists, and I completely agree about the value of some of them, as Koussevitzky, Coppola, Bernstein, Svetlanov...)