Film Themes of Gold and Herrmann

March 3, 2007

 

My first experience with Dutton/Vocalion was with the recent remastering of the very classic Rozsa recordings of Quo Vadis and Ben Hur for London done in the late 70’s (CDLK 4332). Having owned the LP’s the job that Dutton performed was in a word outstanding. The same can be said of this mastering from 2003 but I can go a step further as I have heard the LP and the transfer that London did to CD. The improvement is significant in terms of clarity and depth in sound. Gone is that clinical sound of transfers and replaced with a very nice warmth and vibrancy that offers some of the qualities of vinyl. No it still doesn’t have that magical sound of listening to an LP but it is a lot closer than what it once was.

Both compilation albums date back to the 60’s with the Gold release being quite unique in its offering of themes from films such as Saddle Pals, and Pressure Point. His Oscar winning effort Exodus is included in a six minute suite as well as his Oscar nominated On The Beach and the extremely effective use of “Waltzing Matilda”. The Bernard Herrmann offering from 1968 with the exception of Vertigo were first time recordings of Psycho, Marnie, North By Northwest, and The Trouble With Harry. Hard to believe that none of them had any sort of OST release but true. Even more amazing are the liner notes written by Herrmann and are actually somewhat complimentary to a man (Hitchcock) who Herrmann had worked with for so many years and was suddenly fired on the stage of the recording of Torn Curtain by Alfred himself! Keep in mind that this recording was done three years after the firing!

Great Movie Thrillers is one of several recordings that Herrmann did for London (he left the United States after the firing) but to date is the only one Dutton/Vocalion has re-mastered. The key link to all of the concert prepared pieces is that they were all directed by Hitchcock and are orchestrated and arranged for a pleasant listening experience by Herrmann. The miking is of course designed for concert style presentation. Psycho (A Narrative for Orchestra) is a 14 minute piece for strings only that incorporates the major themes from the film including the opening, car sequence, shower scene, and the finale. The Trouble With Harry is the basis for the motifs for the piece “A Portrait Of Hitch”, a study of Alfred Hitchcock in music. Vertigo, not only includes the mystery but the often played love theme, something I might add that Herrmann wasn’t known for composing but in this case he nailed it perfectly. The main overture from North By Northwest and the main themes from Marnie in a 10 minute suite round off the CD.

Film Themes of Ernest Gold is like a best of his themes with the primary emphasis placed on his film work between 1958 to 1963. Somewhat unknown today the variety of different kinds of films seemed to make little difference to him. He seemed to be at home with comedy, drama, western, romance, or jazz which I mention because of the fine work done for Pressure Point. You name it and he would write for it! With the exception of his Exodus score, he would be a virtual unknown! His arrangement for Exodus features some awfully fine cello work and will likely tug a string or two in your heart. Having had to flee the Nazi occupation of his native Austria in 1938 one wonders how he felt doing the excellent score to Judgement At Nuremberg.

This (2) CD set is a wonderful introduction to anyone who has yet to discover Bernard Herrmann with the extraordinary bonus of being able to discover Ernest Gold. I am confident that it will propel you to want to discover more. Highly recommended

Golden Scores Rating is (****)

Remastered by Michael J. Dutton

Vocalion CDLK 4178

Track Listing:

CD1

1. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (2:11)

2. The Young Philadelphians (3:27)

3. Judgement at Nuremberg (2:48)

4. The Last Sunset (3:30)

5. Inherit The Wind (2:16)

6. Pressure Point (5:39)

7. A Child Is Waiting (3:07)

8. On the Beach (3:09)

9. Saddle Pals (2:50)

10. Exodus (6:30)

11. Too Much, Too Soon (4:19)

Ernest Gold Conducts The London Festival Orchestra

CD2

1. Psycho (A Narrative For Orchestra) (14:28)

2. Marnie (10:08)

3. North By Northwest (3:04)

4. Prelude from Vertigo (2:51)

5. The Nightmare from Vertigo (2:06)

6. Scene d’amour from Vertigo (5:33)

7. A Portrait of Hitch (from The Trouble With Harry) (8:19)

Bernard Herrmann Conducts The London Philharmonic Orchestra

Total Time is 87:09

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