Battle of Neretva/Herrmann

January 20, 2012

Written toward the end of his long and successful career Herrmann was asked to write the score for the UK version of the Yugoslavian production of Battle of Neretva a massive undertaking. The viewing time was 175 minutes with a score from Kraus-Rajteric, a tragic minor key undertaking that took up less than ¼ of the film. The 127 minute edited print is what Herrmann worked with. When American International gained distribution rights the film was edited down to 102 or 83 minutes leaving much of Herrmann’s work on the editing floor. This new Tribute Film Classic release (TFC-1007) offers double the amount of material previously offered on the Southern Cross (SCCD 5005) with the exception of the track with the Roland Shaw “Danica’s Theme.” This London Philharmonic recording with Bernard Herrmann conducting is also available on Label X (ATM CD 2003).

The orchestra for this recording has an immense sound as it was composed for a 98 piece orchestra. The result in this re-constructed recording is nothing short of spectacular recorded in 96kHz/24-bit. It was carefully miked and as conductor Bill Stromberg explains in his part of the liner notes he positioned some of the musicians differently to further enhance the experience. As an example he split the 6 trombones putting 3 on the left and 3 on the right. It does make a difference in what you hear. Spectacular is an understatement!

1… Prelude* (2:26) an arsenal of percussion is the prelude to the main title theme offered by the horns with strings and brass providing the harmony. What follows are more drums, complex horn work until the strings are allowed to carry the melody with the horns now providing the harmony. This is a powerful war march!

2… Nazi Attack (2:47) offers the 5 note motif from the rejected Torn Curtain. The track is quite loud continuing the brass in attack mode.

3… The Retreat* (3:23) begins with a Herrmann 3 note muted brass motif which changes into a rather somber funeral like melody introduced for the first time.

4… Dawn (1:39) has its roots in Herrmann’s tone poem For the Fallen. Typical muted horns from Herrmann are balanced with oboe and woodwinds in a quiet cue for this CD.

5… The Poem (0:51) returns to the main theme from “Prelude” in a slower paced stoic version with horns giving us the melody. There is clever harmony from a bugle call.

6… Rout (1:05) a loud cue with percussion almost overpowering what melody there is.

7… From Italy* (2:46) is a theme recycled from his clarinet quintet Souvenirs de Voyage. This cue is soft yearning strings carrying the melody with harmony from the clarinet.

8…The Flag (0:58) is another return to the main theme from “Prelude.” The pace is largo with strings carrying the melody. We hear more bugle like calls indicating the military presence.

9… Tanks (1:38) is a loud cue featuring staccato brass and a return to the 5 note Torn Curtain motif.

10… The Road (5:12) is a new theme funeral like with the melody being traded between the horns and the strings.

11… Pastorale* (1:57) is another recycled melody from the television series The Virginian. This is a string orchestra arrangement that is peaceful and quiet.

12… March (1:51) Chetnik’s March is one that will loosen your ear wax if you’re listening on headphones. It is very rousing.

13… Grief (1:15) returns to the theme we heard in “Retreat.” This too is orchestrated for strings.

14… Trestle (0:50) A brief cue with tension type underscore.

15… Suspense (1:19) this is a cue that is the calm before the storm and is also from On Dangerous Ground.

16… The Lookout (1:40) also a recycled cue from On Dangerous Ground.

17… Death Hunt (2:12) is a classic cue from On Dangerous Ground and the best cue on this CD. It is loud and played at a frantic pace with fox hunt type calls from the brass. Quoting John Morgan it was …”performed with such energy and ferociousness.” I’ve included the audio cue which I thought long and hard about. It really doesn’t do it much justice.  17 – Death Hunt

18… The Bridge (1:30) is another cue taken from On Dangerous Ground. The timpani provides a constant rhythm in a very nice underscore track.

19… The Message (0:57) the horns answer each other with the bugle motif while a bassoon lurks in the background.

20… Waiting (1:08) continues the message cue as a prelude to some typical muted horn work from Herrmann. A quiet cue.

21… Hunt Scherzo (1:48) originally came from his Symphony (1941). This is similar in sound to what you would hear in The Devil and Daniel Webster. The brass get no holiday on this one!

22… Danica’s Death* (1:41) a romantic accordion with strings emphasizing the Italian influence which is the melody from “Separation.”

23… The Front (2:19) the snare drum precedes lower register instruments and offers a relentless beat.

24… Battle and Fanfare* (4:59) begins with 5 note Torn Curtain cue and proceeds to offer the listener one of the better battle cues on record. No day off for the brass and the percussion as it is very loud.

25… Separation* (3:36) this very sad theme comes from the “Retreat” cue and the tempo is a death march.

26… Italian (0:58) the clarinet quintet music is used “From Italy” in this very brief cue.

27… Slow March (2:09)  It is a restatement of the main theme.

28… Riva’s Death* (1:17) was originally called “Farewell” on the OST. It is another cue taken from the clarinet quintet and is part of the Italian connection.

29… Finale* is a combination of “Retreat” and the main title.

30… End Title* (1:39) a restatement of the main title in a major key very proud and majestic. This was the Partisan March on the OST.

Tribute Film Classics TFC 1007 *Indicates a track that was part of the OST.

This release is not limited and available through

Be sure to read the other review on this release

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