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 15. We are getting again into symphony titles and the existential issue of DVDitis. I just posted a story on a Mahler 2 recording at the Gewandhaus that might be considered DOA from the dread plague.

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 Priory (5)

Tuesday
Aug302016

The Grand Organ of Gloucester Cathedral

Jonathan Hope plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Gloucester Cathedral:

1. Purcell arr. Hope "Two Trumpet Tunes and Air"
2. J. S. Bach "Toccata and Fugue" in D minor BWV 565
3. Ralph Vaughan Williams "Rhosymedre"
4. Paul Dukas arr. Hope "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
5. Handel "Organ Concerto No. 13" in F (movements 1 and 2)
6. Pierre Cochereau trans. Filsell "Final" (from Symphonie de Boston)
7. Liszt arr. Rogg "St Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves"
8. Herbert Howells "Psalm Prelude Set 2 No. 1"
9. Elgar arr. Lemare "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D"

Priory specializes in church and organ music. This package has a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD!  Recorded and produced by Paul Crichton; filmed and edited by Richard Knight; Associate Producer was Callum Ross; Executive Producer was Neil Collier. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Grade: Help!

Please help us with comment or review of this title.

 

Monday
Dec072015

The Grand Organ of Durham Cathedral

James Lancelot plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Durham Cathedral:

1. Whitlock "Paean"
2. J. S. Bach "Fantasia and Fugue" in G minor BWV 542
3. Stanley "Andante: Largo" from Trumpet Voluntary (Voluntary in D Op. 6 No.5)
4. F. J. Haydn "Three Pieces for Musical Clocks" Nos. 4, 13 and 25
5. Rheinberger "Sonata No. 7" in F minor Op.127
6. Stanford "Prelude" Op. 101 No. 5 on St. Columba
7. Stanford "Prelude" Op. 101 No. 5 on Gartan
8. Frank "Piece Heroique"
9. Vierne "Intermezzo" (Symphony No. 3)
10. Dupre "Placare Christe Servulis" Op. 38 No. 16
11. Alain "Deux Dances a Agni Yavishta"
12. Alain "Litanies"
13. Hakim "Mariales"
14. Mulet "Carillon-Sortie"

Priory specializes in church and organ music. This package has a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD. Released 2014, recording specs are unclear, and the Blu-ray disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound output. 

Grade: A

Here's another great title from Priory, this time about the organ at the Durham Fortress Cathedral in England, located on a peninsula formed by a big U-bend in the Wear River. Below you see the Cathedral from the south:

Here you see the north side of the Cathedral and the Fortress Durham Castle just to its north; all of this is on high ground surrounded on 3 sides by the Wear. The Cathedral dates to 1093, shortly after the Norman invasion in 1066:

Norman architecture:

This is an old building that was used a military prison under Lord Cromwell and once reduced to a ruin:

Today's Romantic organ was built by Harrison & Harrison in 1905:

Meet James Lancelot, Minister of Music and organist at the Cathedral. Lancelot assembled an especially serious selection of organ music for this recording:

Next below are three views of the interior of the Cathedral:

 

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Tuesday
Oct062015

The Grand Organ of Norwich Cathedral

David Dunnett in 2012 plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Norwich Cathedral:

1. Handel "Coro" from Water Music (arr. Osborne Peasgood)
2. J. S. Bach "Sinfonia on Cantata No. 29" (arr. Marcel Dupré)
3. J. S. Bach "Sheep May Safely Graze"
4. Heathcote Statham "Rhapsody on a Ground"
5. Percy Whitlock "Folk Tune"
6. Handel "Hornpipe" from Water Music (arr. Osborne Peasgood)
7. Saint-Saëns "Fantaisie in E flat"
8. Jehan Alain "Le Jardin suspendu"
9. Alexandre Guilmant "March on a Theme of Handel "
10. William Walond "Voluntary in G"
11. Ronald Watson "Kum ba'yah"
12. Percy Fletcher "Festival Toccata"
13. Elgar "Angel's Farewell" from The Dream of Gerontius (arr. Sir Herbert Brewer)
14. Iain Farrington "Live Wire"

Priory specializes in church and organ music. This package has a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD!  Recorded and produced by Paul Crichton; filmed and edited by Richard Knight; Associate Producer was Callum Ross; Executive Producer was Neil Collier. Released 2014, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Grade: A

Serenity, communion with nature, and grandeur characterize most of the selections on this program played in the Cathedral of semi-rural Norwich, England:

If you haven't visited the Norwich Cathedral, it's hard from photos taken from the ground to understand how the church is laid out. Below is an aerial photo.  The front door of the building is in the lower right. Then there is an enormously long nave leading to the altar. The steeple rises above the altar. Two semitransepts extend from the altar perpendicular to the nave. Behind the altar is the ambulatory. From high above, the church would appear to have the shape of the traditional Christian cross. The ambulatory (which you can't see from this view) is supported by flying buttresses:

Four views of David Dunnett, Chief Organist for the Cathedral, performing the program:

Even with the great flexibility of his mighty instrument, Dunnett finds himself stretching to finish these runs:

 

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Monday
Aug242015

The Grand Organ of Coventry Cathedral

In 2014, Kerry Beaumont plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, England:

1. Lemmens "Fanfare"
2. Holst "Mars, the Bringer of War" (The Planets)
3. Mendelssohn "Prelude and Fugue" in C minor
4. J. S. Bach "Come Sweetest Death" (Komm, Susser Tod)
5. Handel "For unto us a Child is Born"
6. Walton "Orb and Sceptre"
7. Messiaen "Jesus accepte la souffrance"
8. Boellmann "Toccata" from Suite Gothique
9. Brewer "Triumphant Song"
10. Beethoven "Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement)"
11. Davies "RAF March Past"
12. Durufle "Prelude and Fugue sur le non d'Alain"
13. Cholley "Rumba sur les grands jeux"

The Grand Organ of Coventry Cathedral is an impressive recording package with a Blu-ray video disc, a DVD, and a CD of the music. Each of the 13 musical selections is accompanied with video showing Beaumont playing plus numerous clips of the Cathedral and the town of Coventry with its history and landmarks. There is an excellent keepcase booklet which gives you guidance as to what you see in the video for each musical number. Then in another section of the booklet you get a discussion of the musical aspects of each of the 13 selections. Finally, the booklet has two pages of technical data on the Coventry organ! So far I've covered only the main program. There are also 4 bonus extras, all with Beaumont as docent: (1) a 19-minute narration of the musical program, (2) a 44-minute detailed rundown on the features of the Coventry Grand Organ, (3) an 8-minute explanation of the challenges faced by the organist in playing "Rumba sur les grands jeux", and (4) a 12 minute discussion of two chamber organs that the Cathedral also owns and uses! Recorded and produced by Paul Crichton; filmed and edited by Richard Knight; Associate Producer was Callum Ross; Executive Producer was Neil Collier. Released 2015, Blu-ray disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Grade: A

A friend who is an organist called this program an "unusual ragbag" with too many transcriptions (such as the War theme from The Planets, which is itself a very peculiar symphonic composition). The program is eclectic as each piece was put on the program to celebrate the development of the following theme (my invention): Hail to the people of Coventry, valiant in war and forgiving in peace. As the program is performed, exclusively by Beaumont, each piece is tied into this theme through the video selections and several text messages. So the program has a mission: to celebrate the history of Coventry and its Cathedral. If you have a lot of organ music already, you might find that this program doesn't duplicate your collection.  

I would not be qualified to comment on Beaumont's performance.  Nor do I plan to show you screenshots of Beaumont sitting with his hands at different positions on the organ. As is customary (I think) for organ virtuosos, Beaumont reads from sheet music and turns the pages himself. It's hard for me to believe that anyone can play an organ with 5 keyboards (4 manual and 1 for foot-pedals) and 3 staffs to master simultaneously. But Beaumont seems to juggle it all flawlessly.

The program has a lot of variety and no piece lasts longer than 7 minutes. So I find Beaumont's playing completely absorbing. And in the extensive bonus extras, we hear enough from Beaumont to see what a pleasant and unassuming person he must always be.

But what I can show you in this review is how much information Priory has packed into this disc in addition Beaumont's performance. Here's a view of Coventry, the "City with Three Spires." The spire of the old cathedral is the tallest on your right:

The old Cathedral was destroyed in a bombing raid by the German Luftwaffe on November 14, 1940. Construction of a new Cathedral was started almost immediately. The new Cathedral found its way into the history books again on the day of its dedication when the Benjamin Britten War Requiem received it's world premiere at the Cathedral. Here's a view of the ruins after the infamous 1940 bombing raid:

This next picture below was made sometime later. It shows how much larger the new cathedral was to be:

And here's what you see as you enter the new building. The organ pipes are on both sides of a huge tapestry four stories tall. There are many batteries of pipes on each floor behind the visible pipes:

 

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Friday
May312013

The Grand Organ of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Richard Lea plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral:
1.        Tielman Susato & Henry Purcell  "Mohrentanz and Rigaudon"         
2.        Jon Kristian Fjellestad  "Toccata"
3.        G. Ronald Mason "A Song of Sunshine"                 
4.        Stephen Adams (arr. Dr. A. H. Claire) "The Holy City"                
5.        J. S. Bach  "Liebster Jesu Wir Sind Hier BWV 731"             
6.        Joseph Bonnet   In Memoriam - Titanic             
7.        "Prelude on Londonderry Air"  (arr. Noel Rawsthorne)           
8.        George Martin   "Theme One"   (arr. Dr. A.H. Claire)          
9.        Paul McCartney  "Save The Child"   (arr. A. H. Claire)          
10.      Franz Liszt   "Fantasia and Fugue on 'Ad Nos Ad Salutarem Undam'" 

Priory specializes in church and organ music. The package has a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD! Per the publisher, this is the first organ recital to be released in Blu-ray.  Recorded and produced by Paul Crichton; filmed and edited by Richard Knight; Associate Producer was Callum Ross; Executive Producer was Neil Collier. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound.

Grade: Help!

Please help us with a comment or mini-review about this title.