December 4, 2012
When I first heard that Hollywood was going to make a movie about Alfred Hitchcock starring two favorite actors Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren my heart skipped a beat in anticipation of the release of the film. My heart skipped yet another beat when I found out that Danny Elfman a composer who was quite familiar with Bernard Herrmann, the original composer of “Psycho,” had agreed to do the soundtrack. This was a marriage that I was confident would result in nothing but spectacular results and I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
Highlights include the opening Logos which are lead by the harps while the reeds in the background enhance the creepy mood with harmony in the way of pizzicato strings. This is merely a prelude for the Theme from Hitchcock, a Largo tempo, which features yearning strings and a clarinet offering the harmony. It is a theme that will be repeated throughout the score, a motif for Hitchcock. It came as a surprise to me as I would have expected something more Hermanesque in nature. I’ve included this track for your listening pleasure. 02 – hitchcock theme Selling Psycho is an all too brief track that offers the listener a somewhat radical departure from the usual cue on this CD. It offers a cool jazz sound from vibes, percussion, and flute giving it a persuasive percussion style. While there is not much in the way of a melody it is a nice diversion in sound from the other tracks and is one that I’ll revisit often in the way of a homemade compilation CD. The Premiere offers that sense of urgency that is definitely in the style of what Herrmann might have written. Impulses also fit into that urgent style making reference to the Herrmann material that was written for “Psycho.” Paramount/Out of the Gate offers swirling strings in a carousel style complemented with percussion and a few notes from the reed section. End Credits #1 offer the Herrmann tension along with some nice solo violin work that sounds like it could have come from a Holmes movie. The final track, Funeral March for a Marionette, is a composition by the French composer Gounod and has become a trademark of sorts for Hitchcock over the years being the theme song for his television series.
One of the major benefits of this soundtrack is the recording itself. From the Logos to the Funeral March the digital sound is crystal clear giving the double bass and bass clarinet extra resonance, cymbals the swish sound, and a special tinkle from the harps. It offers excellent dynamic range, good miking and a strong overall performance from the orchestra. It would have put a smile on Herrmann’s face. This is a recording that would benefit from good quality wide range speakers. The small speakers attached to my computer weren’t up to the task of reproducing the bass properly but through my stereo system I detected no issue at all.
I found that with repeated listens much of the subtle nuances that Elfman used will come to the surface. It overall has a Herrmann sound but it doesn’t. It has an Elfman flavor but it isn’t. The music style incorporated is an Elfman original which is also a tribute to one of the finer film composers of all time Bernard Herrmann. Recommended
Total Duration: 00:38:38