Recording(s) of the Aquarium

I finally received my recordings of the Aquarium in the mail about three weeks ago, but I obviously had not posted them yet. What can I say? I'm officially facing reality today, realizing that I no longer have wine and chocolate parties and convenient public transit. (Yes, I am sobbing on the inside.)

BUT, I finally have recordings of the Carnival of the Animals event posted with commentary. Both recordings are different. Please listen and tell me what you think. (This will only take about 6 minutes of your time.)

This is the recording from the May 23 performance.

Originally I wanted to use practice mutes for all strings, especially because the practice mutes sounded so cool during rehearsal in the master classroom on campus. And, for this recording, you can hear them (along with the ballet dancers's movements on stage). I believe I achieve the effect I want when the second violin is doubling the flute, but any other background gestures fall flat. Sadly, it all fell flat during the performance because you couldn't really hear the strings during the performance. Fortunately, in this recording, you can hear them.

What's the easiest fix? After talking with the conductor (Annunziata Tomaro), I nixed the practice mutes for standard ones. Here's the recording from the May 24 performance.

Here we can actually hear the strings (or at least we did during performance). I didn't realize this, but one of my comp professors still thinks the doubling with the flute and second violin still sounds convincing with the regular mute. Also note the tempo isn't as slow.

So, what do you think? I think I like the latter recording more, but I miss the practice mute sound. I'm thinking about doing a mix of both when I make minor fixes for this piece. Ultimately, when this is performed again, I hope the accoustics in the performance venue are better so I have my practice-mute option available to me.