music for alfred hitchcock 001

Toccata Classics 0241


Featuring three of the finest composers from Hollywood; Herrmann, Waxman, and Tiomkin, John Mauceri offers a slightly different take on suites that have been created over the years of some of his biggest hits. John Mauceri has revised some of these suites to make a good one even better. As listeners we can only hope there will be more releases in the future. In addition there is a work from Benjamin and Elfman closes out the CD with his recently made film Hitchcock. The 81 minute CD offers music from Psycho, Rear Window, Rebecca, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, The Man Who Knew Too Much, which includes the “Storm Cantata” and Hitchcock.


The CD begins with the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) with its bright brass and a very strong emphasis on the percussion (timpani and cymbals). For those who are not familiar with the film the crescendo of the work has a very loud crash of the cymbals to muffle the sound of the gunshot. We quickly move to an extended suite from Rebecca (1940) from Franz Waxman the second of his many Oscar nominations and one of his better efforts in my opinion. It is a darkly romantic suite with a rich memorable theme which weaves its way through the score and will not be forgotten once you hear it. Waxman was in top form when he composed it for the Hitchcock/Selznick compilation.


The other entry from Waxman is the jazz style score to Rear Window (1954). I like the opening “Prelude” which sounds like it has a bit of that Sunset Boulevard style with a bit of improvisational feeling. I’ve included this one as an audio clip for you to enjoy. The ballet plays out like another track from Sunset Boulevard with an emphasis on a Leonard Bernstein cue from West Side Story. This is definitely one of Waxman’s underappreciated scores and is one that should be revisited often. This release also coincides with the remake of the film in 1998 and very recently released from MSM. That score was done by the talented David Shire.


Dimitri Tiomkin, Russian born, studied under Glazunov, a favorite classical composer of mine, immigrated to the United States and had a fine career in Hollywood. While he is probably best known for his High Noon theme he has so many more to offer. Strangers on a Train” shows the listener the versatility of Tiomkin as the suite offers classical, playful, fugue, and ends with a stunning waltz.  This is quite an array of material for this suspense/thriller film from Alfred Hitchcock. Dial M for Murder begins with a classic Tiomkin fanfare opening somewhat similar to Red River and others. It quickly changes gears to a waltz which is the main theme of the film. Delicate, nicely flowing, it is one of his nicer efforts. The remainder of the suite is filled with danger and tension cues, something that Tiomkin knows well. Listen to the clock like cue with growly brass and the ever present vibraphone. There is also a fairly brief passage of the fugue that could have been taken from Strangers on a Train.


It can be argued by many that Vertigo was the best effort that Herrmann ever did. The dark romantic material will stay lingering in your brain as you hear the haunting melody that only Herrmann can write. “Prelude” and “Scene d’Amour” are the two selections from the film and both feature the haunting melody. The latter is quite a romantic bit of writing from Herrmann, probably the best he ever did.


North by Northwest (1959) is yet another memorable theme with the entire orchestra participating with staccato brass providing the main melody with excellent harmony coming from both the brass and the woodwinds. I like the way he uses the forceful notes to emphasize his theme.


Psycho (1960) was a film that at one point was almost never made and with that said it created a stir as well as a paycheck for life for Hitchcock. Herrmann went back to his “Sinfonietta” (1936) and drew material and the idea of making the score only strings. The strings provide just what the doctor ordered for the film and the narrative was created by Herrmann afterword. It has become a well played suite being recorded and performed by many orchestras. In 1968 Mauceri reworked the material and this is what is heard on this recording.


The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) was a remake of his film from 1934 and much of the suite you hear is not original Herrmann material but that of Arthur Benjamin’s material. I say that this short piece is as close to many that they will ever get to opera material. It is a very nice classical piece that worked very well in the film.


Finally we have Danny Elfman and his score to the film Hitchcock (2012)  which tells the story of Hitchcock himself and the making of the film Psycho. The style is somewhat different and there is only a reference to the original film with the urgent violins. It plays out a lot more like a Sherlock Holmes film with a violin solo that weaves in and out in the beginning of the track before a love melody finishes out the track.


Everything about this release is top notch from the John Riley liner notes to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra to the conducting of John Mauceri, and finally to the recording. It will be a most welcome addition to any collection and comes with my highest recommendation.

Track Listing:

  1. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1:57)
  2. Rebecca (8.22)
  3. Rear Window (9:30)
  4. Strangers on a Train (8:39)
  5. Dial M For Murder (7:47)
  6. Vertigo (9:32)
  7. North By Northwest (2:47)
  8. Psycho (15:42)
  9. The Man Who Knew Too Much (9:55)
  10. Hitchcock (2012) (5:50)

Total Time is 81:00