What's Up?

Here's news about high-definition video disc ("HDVD") recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, performance art, and paintings. We've got hard-to-find critical reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

October 18. We just updated the B+ Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV concert as well as the A+ In War and Peace recital by Joyce DiDonado. If you like vocals, these are important recordings.

We have just finished the monumental (for us) task of converting all the stories on the website from Squarespace 5 (for desktop) to Squarespace 7 (for all form factors from the smartphone up). We also just worked our way through the Alphalist to clean up and standardize our descriptions of the publishers as well as the various performance groups and venues. A lot of inconsistencies had crept into the Alphalist over 10 years, but now that’s fixed!

On the new home page, you will see the beginnings of the most recent 17 stories. You reach the rest of the archives by using the Alphalist or our search tool. One problem is that the search tool doesn’t recognize all those tricky diacritical marks that we encounter in many languages. So if your search has unusual diacritical marks, try to figure out a search without the unusual marks.

It’s been about 10 years since we started this website. Since then, here’s what we have done:

  • We screened about 1400 Blu-ray titles of fine-arts recordings that might meet our standards for hi-fi sound and HD video. We excluded over 20% of these titles as impostors mostly for (1) legacy material of poor artistic quality, (2) obsolete sound, and/or (3) video resolution too poor to benefit from modern TV displays. Our screening left about 1100 individual purchasable packages on our Alphalist. We believe this is the only comprehensive public list anywhere that is limited to high-quality fine-arts Blu-ray video titles.

  • Our Alphalist makes it possible for anyone anywhere to learn more than he ever could before about ballet/dance, opera, classical music, and Shakespeare plays. To do better, one would have to be a multi-millionaire with time enough to stay constantly on airplanes in search of tickets to see things live.

  • By diligently analyzing the video content of the very best and worst of the titles that made it to our Alphalist, we have been able to set standards for ballet, dance, and classical music recordings. These standards may help the industry produce better work and help consumers avoid disappointment. We continue to work on standards for opera videos.

  • Our dream remains that if people all over the world were able to easily enjoy the same great works of performance and plastic arts, they might be at least slightly less likely to want to kill each other.

It’s late October 2018. Now we are only getting a trickle of new Blu-ray titles to review. Is the era of the HD optical disc over? We continue to believe that 4K with High Dynamic Range (“HDR”)  will revitalize interest in Blu-ray. The few Blu-ray discs (and streamed files) we have seen with 4K/HDR images are dramatically compelling. The recently-reviewed disc of piano concertos by Khatia Buniatishvali in 4K/HDR could arguably be the best classical music recording ever published.

So we think the era of showing fine-arts material with excellent video and audio is still just getting under way. But it's not clearly evident how the excellent video and audio will be delivered.