I am pleased to present you with my new project, a blind comparison on an exceptional piece with an exceptional discography, and very appropriate for a this special year, that is Debussy's La Mer.
I took weeks to prepare it. I listened (frequently several times) to no less than 97 versions in order to decide which deserved to be selected in such a comparison. I already announced it on the forum Classik (in French) where 16 participants already registered and I hope many of you will accept to join
We'll start with 8 groups of 4 versions each, in an excerpt of the first movement (De l'aube à midi sur la mer. Each group will be judged by at least 4 voters who will individually rank them, and in that way decide which versions will progress to the second round.
There will remain 15 versions for second round, on the first movement and the second movement (Jeux de vagues), one of the most modernist pages by Debussy. They will distributed among 5 groups of 3 versions each, and one version per group will qualify for the finals.
Then the finals will allow every participant to hear excerpts from movements I, II and III (Dialogue du vent et de la mer), and decide which is the absolute best interpretation of La Mer.
Selected versions are sometimes very well known, sometimes mysterious, sometimes historical, sometimes recent, in short I tried to put all versions that I felt could be missed if they weren't present. I also reserved at least one third of all versions for French orchestras (or from French tradition, as you can find in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg...), and one third for French conductors (or from French tradition, even if from foreign descent). This doesn't mean there is only one third for others, as a French conductor can very well conduct a French orchestra. I found necessary to ensure that the French musical tradition was well represented in the listening, as it frequently implies a different sound, and also a different way to play this music, a kind of intimate relation to Debussy that even the greatest orchestras can rarely achieve.
The listening will start within a week, I shall send groups for the first round no later than May 8th. If you participate, you can very well choose to stop the comparison if you prefer or need to, so there is no obligation of any sort. And, of course, anyone can join at any moment during the "game".