Planet Earth II’s 360-degree videos are a great escape

Not a lot of people know this but the BBC is one of the leading researchers in areas related to broadcasting and other technology. They invented Nicam stereo, teletext and much more besides. The microphones they developed in the 1930s are still the basis of many of those we use today. One area they’ve been particularly active in is VR, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and how it might be useful.

Here’s one example of research that tests the waters of what’s possible, via The Verge:

360-degree video is still a format without much of a purpose. Consumers and filmmakers alike are trying to figure out how to film in it but also what makes a good 360-degree video in the first place. BBC’s take on it seems pretty close to the ideal — relatively short in length, good quality, and engaging — and they’ll be releasing more as Planet Earth II airs. It’s still not the kind of immersive content promised by virtual reality, but at this point in time, it’s plenty worth escaping into.

Read the full story here

BBC Record Review 20 February 2016

This is the playlist for the 20 February 2016 edition of BBC Radio 3’s Record Review. As usual, the items listed here as not available on Apple Music may well appear after broadcast and I’ll come back occasionally to update it.

You can access the whole playlist using this link (all 10.5 hours of it). Alternatively, individual albums are listed below. You’ll need an Apple Music subscription – the first three months are free.

Is Apple Music worth it?
I have to say, it’s the best £10 a month I’ve ever spent; it’s saved me hundreds of pounds already and helped me listen to music I otherwise would never have found. So yes, I’d say it’s worth it!

Song Info

Paris Joyeux & Triste Alexei Lubimov (piano), Slava Poprugin (piano)Water Music Suites Nos. 1-3

Continue reading BBC Record Review 20 February 2016

BBC Record Review 6 February 2016 playlist

Here’s the playlist for BBC Radio 3’s Record Review of 6 February 2016.

You can access the whole playlist by clicking this link, or individual recordings, where available, by clicking the links below. (NB individual links will, confusingly, take you to an iTunes Store webpage. If you are subscribed to Apple Music, clicking the ‘store’ button will open the album in iTunes for your streaming delight. One day, this will all make sense – Apple Music… love the service, hate the usability.)


Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4
Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado (conductor)


Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 83 & Violin Concerto in C major
Aisslinn Nosky (violin), Handel and Haydn Society, Harry Christophers (conductor) Continue reading BBC Record Review 6 February 2016 playlist

BBC Record Review 16 January 2016

I created a playlist in Apple Music of all the recordings reviewed on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review on 16 January (or at least, those that are available).

The whole playlist is here, and I’ve linked to individual recordings below. If a title isn’t linked, it wasn’t available at the time I created this post.

Not sure I’ll do this every week, but let’s see how it goes.


The Young Vivaldi

Ensemble Modo Antiquo, Federico Maria Sardelli (conductor)

Tchaikovsky: The Seasons

Freddy Kempf (piano)


Liberté – Egalité – Sororité: 100 Years of Chamber Music by French Women

Diana Ambache (piano), Anthony Robb (flute), Jeremy Polmear (oboe), Neyire Ashworth (clarinet), Philip Gordon (bassoon), Richard Dilley (horn), David Juritz (violin), Richard Milone (violin), Ilona Bondar (viola), Rebecca Knight (cello), Tim Amherst (double bass), Tristan Fry (timpani), Sue Rothstein (harp)

Steibelt: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 5 & 7

Howard Shelley (piano, conductor), Ulster Orchestra


Building a library: Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana

Agnes Baltsa (Santuzza), Placido Domingo (Turiddu), Juan Pons (Alfio), Susan Mentzer (Lola), Vera Baniewicz (Lucia), Philharmonia Orchestra, Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

D. Scarlatti: Sonatas

Angela Hewitt (piano)


Avison: Concerti Grossi after Scarlatti

Concerto Koln


Las Ciudades de Oro

L’Harmonie des Saisons, Eric Milnes (conductor)


Chaconne: Voices of Eternity

Ensemble Caprice, Matthias Maute


Yo Soy La Locura 2

Raquel Andueza, La Galania

Brazilian Adventures

Ex Cathedra, Jeffrey Skidmore (conductor)

Mozart: String Quartets K.387 (‘Spring’) and K.458 (‘The Hunt’)

Hagen Quartet


Mozart & Brahms: String Quintets

Quatuor Voce, Lise Berthaud (viola)


Beethoven: Complete String Quartets Volume 5

Quartetto di Cremona, Lawrence Dutton (viola)

Tippett: String Quartets Nos. 1 – 5 (Complete)

Heath Quartet


Disc of the week: Prokofiev & Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos

Beatrice Rana (piano), Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano (conductor)

BBC Record Review 23 January 2016 playlist

Here’s the playlist for BBC Radio 3’s Record Review of 23 January 2016. At the time of broadcast, only four recordings were available in Apple Music although most of the artists have extensive presence there, which suggests a lot of what’s missing will arrive eventually – particularly if the recording hasn’t actually been released yet.

You can access the whole playlist by clicking this link, or individual recordings, where available, by clicking the links below.

The Romantic Violin Concerto 19 – Bruch (not available)
Jack Liebeck (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)

Tasmin Little plays British Violin ConcertosDELIUS: Suite for Violin & Orchestra (not available)
Tasmin Little (violin), BBC Philharmonic, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor)

Mendelssohn in Birmingham, Vol. 4 (not available)
Violin Concerto in E minor Op. 64; A Midsummer Night’s Dream – incidental music Op. 61
Jennifer Pike (violin), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner (conductor)


Building a Library: Debussy’s Nocturnes
Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic

A tribute to Rudolf Barsha (not available)
Rudolf Barshai (viola)

Korngold: Complete Songs (Samtliche Lieder) (not available)
Konrad Jarnot (baritone), Adrianne Pieczonka (soprano), Reinild Mees (piano)

Parry: English Lyrics & other Songs Vol. I (not available)
Susan Gritton (soprano), James Gilchrist (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone), Andrew West (piano)


Anthony Rolfe Johnson Recital at La Monnaie
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)


Schubert Lieder – Nacht Und Traume
Ailish Tynan (soprano), Iain Burnside (piano)

German Ballads (not available)
Kay Stiefermann (baritone), Alexander Schmalcz (piano)


Disc of the Week: Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 3 & Piano Trio No. 1
Christophe Gaugue (viola), Vincent Coq (piano), Trio Wanderer

BBC iPlayer to feature Abbey Clancy and Lianne La Havas fashion shows

The BBC iPlayer is to hit the catwalk in September with three exclusive fashion programmes featuring model Abbey Clancy, singer Lianne La Havas and fashion blogger Grace Victory. Audiences will have unprecedented access to London Fashion Week, the UK’s most important fashion event of the year. For the first time ever, the event is being held in a car park in Soho.

Read the full story here

Jonathan Dimbleby urges public to rise up in support of embattled BBC

Dimbleby’s sentiments were echoed this weekend by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the writer behind the most popular recent display of British cultural values, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. “The UK enjoys a level of influence and soft power well beyond its economic or military weight. This is due almost entirely to the BBC,” Boyce told the Observer. “It speaks for the nation, in a way that HBO or Warner Brothers could never dream of speaking for America. And when the BBC speaks, what does it say? It says Doctor Who, Top Gear, In Our Time, Today, Strictly, Poldark, Cash in the Attic, Horizon, David Attenborough, Graham Norton … which translates as: here is a nation that is at ease with itself – innovative, creative, fun, serious, able to question itself and celebrate itself, diverse, eccentric and beautiful.” Cottrell Boyce also argued that the “range of tones and ideas” embodied by the BBC formed a sense of national identity and provided the varied voice that politicians often claim Britain needs to defeat extreme ideologies and terrorism. “We are always hearing we need a ‘counter-narrative’ to the threats that surround us,” he writes. “Where would that narrative come from, how would it be projected, if not by us as a nation, through our mouthpiece, the BBC?”

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This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids

The BBC Micro moniker is already familiar to many in the UK, having been used for a series of machines designed by Acorn Computers and released in the country during the 1980s. The comparatively cheap computers helped thousands learn programming skills, and played a part in kickstarting the British video games industry, as coders designed increasingly elaborate console games in their bedrooms. Rocks references the original BBC Micro in describing the scope of the new project. “As the Micro Bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis,” she says, “this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”

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Gently does it: from canal trips to birdsong, BBC4 to introduce ‘slow TV’

BBC4 will also show a three-hour trip around the National Gallery in London, by film-maker Frederick Wiseman, accompanied only by the sound of the polishing machines readying its corridors at dawn, while a “handmade” season will feature the making of a glass jug, a knife and a classic Windsor chair, all without music or commentary.

Read the full story here