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Vertigo: Original Motion Picture Score (1995 Re-recording)
Bernard Herrmann
Vertigo: Original Motion Picture Score (1995 Re-recording)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

This is the most haunting and hypnotic of all of Bernard Herrmann's scores (which include Psycho and North By Northwest)--from the most haunting and hypnotic of all Alfred Hitchcock films. This is deeply mysterious musi...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Bernard Herrmann
Title: Vertigo: Original Motion Picture Score (1995 Re-recording)
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Varese Sarabande
Original Release Date: 3/12/1996
Release Date: 3/12/1996
Album Type: Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 030206560022, 4005939560027

This is the most haunting and hypnotic of all of Bernard Herrmann's scores (which include Psycho and North By Northwest)--from the most haunting and hypnotic of all Alfred Hitchcock films. This is deeply mysterious music, in keeping with the echoes of the past that keep recurring in the movie. As the dizzying main theme opens up before you, you can feel yourself falling right right in. (Herrmann himself did a sort of variation on it for Obsession, the 1976 Paul Schrader/Brian DePalma re-working of Vertigo, released when the earlier picture had been out of circulation for many years.) Perhaps the greatest compliment one could give this soundtrack is that it's as powerful and unforgettable as the images it was written to accompany. And it stands beautifully on its own, as well. --Jim Emerson

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CD Reviews

Elegant Release of a Uniquely Haunting, Powerful Score
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 05/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Unlike most composers both before and after, Bernard Herrman was not interested in creating a melodic score reflective of popular music of the time. He instead approached the work as something of a "tone poem" that reflected the uniqueness of each scene and of the film in its totality. From the 1940s through the 1970s his work fueled the power of many famous films such as CITIZEN KANE--but it was really with the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock that he found his best partnership.

VERTIGO is possibly the single most studied American film of the 20th Century, a remarkably complex film that fuses everything from story to color design to create an almost inexhaustible vision of obsession. Not the least of the film's layers are the score, which is regarded as not only one of Herrmann's finest works, but one of the finest film scores in film history.

Much of the score has the dreamy, fluid tone of a calm stream--and Herrmann unexpectedly punctuates the flow to incredible effect with unexpected jabs of sound, sound that sometimes comes as suddenly as an unexpected blow, that sometimes rises from a covertly ominous tone to an overwhelmingly paranoid edge. The overall structure is open-ended, with little in the way of any direction that be considered a resolution.

Two of Herrmann's themes here are particularly famous. The most obvious of these might be termed "the Vertigo Waltz"--a strange, cyclical series of notes that emerges from the background flow and perfectly expresses the film's repeating themes of building obsession, disorientation, and emotional discord. Equally haunting is the "Madeline" theme, which seems based on a four-note, open-ended phrase that rises above everything from the "waltz" to Spanish accents associated with the figure of the long-dead Carlotta. This particular theme has the quality of the human voice calling out in tremendous longing--but without hope of a saving response.

The Varse Sarabande release, which offers the score as recorded by Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, is very fine in quality. It also includes an extremely well-written and well-researched fourteen page booklet that describes Herrmann's work both here and in other films as well as the film itself. It is an elegant offering, well worth seeking out.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
"Awesome" Is Not an Adequate Word
Pat Harris | Maine | 04/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The first of the mighty trifecta of Hitchcock/Herrmann collaborations from 1958-60 (the other two being 'North by Northwest' and 'Psycho'), the score for 'Vertigo' is an out-and-out masterpiece. This was the first Hitchcock film I ever saw, and consequently the first Herrmann score I ever heard, and the impact (even during the Paramount logo before the actual credits!) is tremendous. The unresolved arpeggios and minor-key blasts of brass are both riveting and frightening, perfectly setting up the obsessive descent of the film's protagonist. The whole score revolves around a powerful love theme (heard most fully in the 'Scene d'Amour'), various shades of which would color all the romantic material Herrmann would pen for the rest of his career. Overall, from the downbeat to the final chord, this is as close to perfection as film music gets, and Varese has done it full justice. Although they have generously made the restored original tracks available on a separate album, I think this is the one to get. This was Joel McNeely and the RSNO's first crack at a full-length Herrmann score, and the enthusiasm the conductor has for the material is immediately apparent. Indeed, I think this might be the performance Herrmann himself would prefer, as he was unable to conduct the original cues and expressed some dissatisfaction with them. McNeely has been scrupulously faithful to all of the composer's desired conducting notations, and the result is a more dramatic performance that still replicates the overall sound of the original. (With one or two exceptions, all of McNeely's subsequent re-recordings have been gems.) Add in the detailed liner notes, and this is a first-class album in every department."
Pat Harris | 03/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having over the past 10 years owned and listened obsessively (vertigiously?) to this soundtrack in its other incarnations, I must recommend this recording as the ultimate.Not usually overwhelmed by McNeely and the Royal Scottish National's treatment of Herrmann - though I applaud their efforts, even when they fall short of the mark - I can only say that their Vertigo is overwhelmingly beautiful and powerful, start to finish. And what a start and what a finish!If you truly love Herrmann, or have never heard this entire score separate from the movie -- accept no substitutes. This is the best of the best!"