Ten Tracks Today: A Bernard Herrmann Special – 23rd June 2011

01 – “Finale” – Vertigo

Track from the Conlon re-recording. From the point where Scotty takes Judy up to the scene of the crime in the bell tower. One of Herrmann’s greatest themes, the love theme, plays one final time before the organ signals the end with a grand timpani roll heralding fate’s final judgement.

02 – “Space Control” – The Day The Earth Stood Still

Track from the Varese re-recording. I like the otherworldliness of the orchestration of this track. A recent documentary highlights the use of the Klaatu’s touchless control of his spaceship’s controls with the touchless playing of the theremin.

03 – “The Battle” – Mysterious Island

Another re-recording! Herrmann again uses repeating figures but this time for a battle (though I can’t remember the specific sequence in the film). The whole track reminds me somewhat of an English hunt.

04 – “Prelude” – 5 Fingers

Re-recording number 4. Whirling strings start this score off. This track is one of the main highlights of the score, highlighted by the fact that I don’t listen to the score often.

05 – “Temptation” – Psycho (1998)

Danny Elfman and Steve Bartek nail this score on the head. Nice close miking giving great sound, quick pace that’s more akin to the original score all add up to a great listen. Though there’s a lot of the score missing from this release it is a great summary of the original.

06 – “Scenario Seven” – The Night Digger

This later release tones down the harmonica in the mix which, for me, is a good thing. This particular track sounds much more open and romantic than just the “kitchen sink drama” I associate the film to be (though that’s more to do with the era from which the film is from rather than the actual content of the film). Ethereal strings mix with passages of viola d’amore and hearing a bit of vibrato in the solo instrument after listening to something like Psycho (with it’s lack of vibrato) stands out.

07 – “The Stone Faces” – North By Northwest

This McNeely re-recording was a godsend to me as I was only familiar with the Rhino original soundtrack. It is good to have the original but there’s so much more detail to be heard in the re-recording. From what I remember of this scene in the film, if there had not been this exciting music the scene would have been quite boring to watch.

08 – “Kidnapped” – North By Northwest

An original track this time. Much more low-key compared with the last track, it’s the orchestration and tempo that keeps this cue interesting. A lot of meandering about.

09 – “The Wild Ride” – North By Northwest

An energetic summary of the title theme from this score, heard in its original form. I forget the form the music takes for the theme (a fandango?) but it fits equally well as a backdrop to a frenetic car journey or as a statement of crowded city life.

10 – “Suite 4” – The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: You’ll Be The Death of Me

This is a great 2-CD selection. Sounds really good – well miked and preserved. The oscillating low strings figure is an immediate standout. It’s a score that’s dominated by the strings and there are several motifs that Herrmann uses that reminds me of Psycho. The six segments that go to make up the suite play together very well.

I’ve realised that I’ve chosen re-recordings to populate my “Herrmann Favourites” playlist. I need to go back and add more original tracks!



  1. Hard to choose 10 tracks from Herrmann and you missed my favorite Mr. Scratch cue but then again that was from a suite.

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