Here's news about high-definition video recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. I call these recordings "HDVDs." In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

October 19. I just posted a short review on András Schiff Plays Bach. We are getting again into symphony titles and the existential issue of DVDitis. I just posted stories on a Mahler 4 recorded at the Gewandhaus and an earlier Mahler 2 recorded at the same venue. Both titles are crippled by the dread disease.

I recently put up a story about the 3rd version (!) of the same Giselle production published by Opus Arte. I recently posted a story about the Ekman Midsummer Night's Dream ballet (which has nothing to do with Shakespeare). I also just posted two stories about Shakespeare's The Tempest. The first is a definitive stage play version by the RSC. The second is an updated review of The Tempest movie staring Helen Mirren as Prospera (the female version of Prospero). The movie is streamlined - try it first. Then move on to the RSC "real deal", which is probably the best The Tempest ever made for home viewing.

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Entries in Mats Bergström Musik AB (1)

Wednesday
Jan162013

Steve Reich Electric Counterpoint

Steve Reich Electric Counterpoint. Mats Bergström & Friends perform various pieces from Steve Reich, as well as remixes and tributes to Reich. This is a studio recording, but you don't get to see any video of the process of recording the music. The video was created independently. I've indicated below the general nature of the video themes that accompany each musical work. The videos are mostly in black and white. The package contains two discs: a CD of just music, and a Blu-ray which has the video art. The full program is:

1-3. Steve Reich Electric Counterpoint (video mostly of waves, clouds, and raindrops on water)

4. Reich remixed by Magnus Frykberg & Jay-Jay Johanson Under the Weather MIX (Remix of Electric Counterpoint) (video mostly of eyes, faces, pulsing lights, and subway scenes)

5. Steve Reich Nagoya Guitars (video of forest scenes presented in a way perhaps partly inspired by fractal mathematics)

6. Reich remixed by Cornelia Godspeed Remix (Remix of Nagoya Guitars) (video featuring a mysterious masked figure with a torch)

7-9. Steve Reich 2x5 (night and dawn skyline scenes with extensive views of dense urban built environment)

10. Edda Magnason So Many Layers of Colour Become a Deep Purple Heart (To Steve Reich) (forest scene with brief clip of girl singing)

Features musicians Mats Bergström, Johan Liljedahl, Svante Henryson, Magnus Persson, Jonas Östholm, and Edda Magnason. Video art by Simon Larsson. Sound recorded by Lars Nilsson. I think all the music on the video disc was recorded and processed faithfully using 96 kHz/24 bit technology. Released in 2012, the video disc has stereo LPCM and 5.1 dts-Master Audio sound. In addition, there is also a CD (recorded at 44.1 kHz/16 bit) included for those wanting to listen to the music outside of a home theater setting.  Grade: X-B

This is basically an audiophile sound recording with video added to create an enriched experience. There are a lot of Blu-ray audiophile music recordings that have no video or maybe a slide show of still photography. We exclude these titles here because our emphasis is on high-def videos. This title, on the other hand, has extensive video material created by Simon Larsson. 

Another modern music video we covered was Tribues - Pulse  (which includes a salute to Steve Reich). We include these titles despite the fact that they do not neatly fall into any of the other categories of fine arts we cover.  They are not played live in front of an audience, there are no extravagent costumes or staging, and they certainly stick out when placed next to Don Giovanni and Mahler symphonies. But they qualify as fine arts for our website: they have contemporary classcal musical played with surround sound and presented with original high-definition video compositions. If we get enough of these, maybe we will create a new catagory called "classical music videos."

Electric Counterpoint, performed here by Mats Bergström & Friends, includes several pieces by Reich, as well as several remixes of his work. The last song is actually by Edda Magnason, but is very much in Reich's minimal style.  The recording is excellentthe instruments are clear and realistic, and the surround sound is well balanced. The intricacies of Reich's musical shifts are played well.

As might be expected on a Steve Reich recording, the visuals are methodical and deliberate.  For some it might be seen as slow, but anyone who is interested in Steve Reich will be able to appreciate the visuals, which mesh well with the music and are worth watching.

The majority of the visual work here consists of muted black-and-white (or near black-and-white) video clips. A sampling:

For the last section of the piece (Edda Magnason's original tribute), the video suddenly brings in full color. The muted aesthetic continues from the black-and-white visuals.