Ten Tracks Today – A Bernard Herrmann Special #4 – 7th September 2011


In the run-up to attending a live playing to picture of Psycho in a few weeks, and to continue celebrating 100 years since the birth of Bernard Herrmann, here’s another selection of ten tracks:

01 – “Excerpt” – Cimarron Strip: Knife In The Darkness

A short 35-second snippet from the suite that can be found on the Film Music Society’s Music From CBS Westerns CD, this is pure Herrmann: a short, repeating descending motif that’s thrown around the various sections of the orchestra. And that’s it!

02 – “Nefer’s Farewell” – The Egyptian

Herrmann’s contribution to this collaboration with Alfred Newman gives the score such poignant music, full of sadness. I may have mentioned before that I much prefer Herrmann’s more psychological aspect to the score to Newman’s parts. The meandering flute line towards the end is so hypnotic.

03 – “Tranquil Landscape” – Western Suite

An example of Herrmann’s library music that is featured on Prometheus’ The CBS Years: Volume 1: The Westerns. Yes, Herrmann suggests tranquility but it’s not a particularly happy landscape. It’s a landscape that is desolate from the low register instruments he used.

04 – “Finale” – The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Taken from the recent original score/album release, this is the album version of the finale. A track of two halves, though the final half doesn’t seem to be as energetic as the Varese re-recording that I have become used to over the years.

05 – “Narration” – Mysterious Island

The efforts of Tribute Film Classics to re-record Herrmann’s music is to be applauded. This is a score I appreciate more after I heard this version. And it’s a cue that showcases Herrmann’s quieter, more romantic side.

06 – “Finale” – Jane Eyre

This is a score that would benefit from a faithful re-recording. The finale is full of low register strings to begin with, but brightens up somewhat towards the end of the cue. Herrmann’s early romantic material is the period I am least keen on but with the dark aspect to this score it’s ideal Herrmann fodder to give a nicely light-and-dark score.

07 – “Patrol Car” – Psycho

Great cue from a great score. This is a recent version of the original score I found on iTunes and it shows off the raw, energetic playing of the original. I think that the less-than-stellar sound recording adds to the whole feel of the score.

08 – “The End” – Cape Fear

Elmer Bernstein’s 1995 adaptation of Herrmann’s music from the original score is a great way to hear Herrmann’s music – I don’t believe that this score has yet had an official release of the original tracks. The fanfare that starts off this cue is spine-tingling.

09 – “Prelude” – The Egyptian

A bit more bombast on this cue from the 1954 epic – and some grand choral music too! A great recent release (again) of this score.

10 – “The Nightmare and Dawn” – Vertigo

Delicious music to mess with the mind! I like how the habanera is used here and how it links with the visuals. This is the original score version so, again, there’s a slight rawness to the music that adds an edge to it. I have always liked how the low strings immediately after the nightmare and before the sun rising gives a musical impression of Scotty dragging himself up from the depths of his disturbed sleep.

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