John L. Anderson | Lynchburg, VA United States | 04/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This album of Bernard Herrmann film scores, performed by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic, is truly astounding in the SACD format. Selections range from The Man Who Knew Too Much, to Psycho, from Marnie to Vertigo and from Fahrenheit 451 to Taxi Driver. Listening to this music you discover a power that few composers have been able to inject into their compositions. If you've seen any of the films from which these selections are taken, close your eyes, the movie plays in your mind and you'll realize the extent to which Herrmann was a cinematic musical genius. His music perfectly captured the mood, ambience, story and characters of the movies he scored. This recording is a true delight. Highly Recommended."
A generous collection, well played
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 08/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You might expect the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its resident conductor to specialize in film music. They an OK job with this music, which for the most part retains Herrmann's eerie reality in "Fahrenheit 451" and the shocking reality of "Psycho". It also includes from some of Herrmann's lesser scores -- "Marnie" and "Torn Curtain" -- and the famous overture from "North By Northwest".
While this is all performed dutifully by conductor and orchestra, the disk is a glib remake of the composer's original music recorded on London Phase Four CDs between 1969-75. A disk of his Hitchcock music is often available used through an Amazon search. Sometimes you can also find a copy of "Bernard Herrmann Great Film Music" that contains science fiction scores conducted by the composer.
Compared to the composer-conducted scores, Salonen's work is the best that is available today. Unfortunately, it is a limp-wristed second place version that cannot stand comparison to Herrmann's original vision in this music. Settling for this CD is just that. It is a compromise of this unworldly original music.
Another strike against this is the ridiculous photo of the conductor on the CD cover, as if to say he is the story. There is little that has distinguished the thus far early career of Mr. Salonen. He certainly does not compare to the best film score composer in history. This marketing tactic smacks of the cult of personality that follows John Gardiner, whose face almost always adorns his CD covers.
I would remind these companies that, in classical and serious music, it is the original composing artist that sells, not the reproduction artist (AKA conductor). For without the composer's original art, there is no reason for the reproduction artist to command attention in any way."
Not quite a 5, but I'm being really picky.
A. Tohline | Athens, OH | 02/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The CD that I really want does not exist. The best way, in my humble opinion, to hear the masterfully-composed film scores of Bernard Herrmann, short of watching the magnificent films in which they appear, is to hear the original soundtrack recordings. If somebody would get around to taking the best excerpts from all the films represented on this disc, plus Citizen Kane (of course!) and The Twilight Zone, and rerelease their original versions, now THAT would be the CD to get.But here is our predicament. You'd have to buy 10 or so CDs to get the original recordings of all this wonderful music. When that is considered, this CD sounds like a great bargain, and in that respect, it is.The excerpts represented on this disc are the best excerpts, and the playing is accurate and precise. The engineering also receives high marks for having completely clear sound and firmness of bass where the original recordings would not.The Vertigo represented here is wonderful in its range and the depth of its tenderness, something the original soundtrack aspired to but did not achieve. It reminds me in the best way of Tristan and Isolde, but that's another conversation. The excerpts of Fahrenheit 451 and Taxi Driver are also very well played, especially the latter. The interpretations are in the spirit of the originals, and Salonen is to be commended.Unfortunately, sometimes he just takes the wrong tempo. The overture to North by Northwest may sound better played faster, louder, and more obstreperously, but the original was smaller, quirkier, full of understated irascible ticks and obsessive weaving. I'm not sure which I like better. The rerecording is not bad, just different. (At high volume, though, it's better!)The suite that really hit me the wrong way was Psycho. The quieter passages are perfect, but the violently urgent parts, like the overture and The Murder, seem to be played with an ounce of reserve. I realize that's not much, but any reserve can sink what should be complete terror. The players on the original recording sound like they are physically hurting their instruments. Here, they sound like they're only annoying them. However, this may be the result of my eccentric preference for original recordings. I'm used to hearing the Psycho score with scratches and pops and overplaying and mistakes. Maybe Salonen has improved on the original by refining it, but it will take me a while to forget the originals and appreciate these.Bottom line: the engineering is much better, the playing is more accurate, the selections are superb, and the price is preferable. These benefits outweigh any of my insignificant bickering about the originals, because out of all the CDs you can buy of Bernard Herrmann, this may not be definitive, but it probably is the best we have."
An exception to the rule
K. Farrington | 02/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Usually, the rule is: Stay away from classical music orchestras trying to be convincing in the realm of Hollywood. Not so for the LA Phil though, and especially not with a daredevil such as EPS! Nobody brings Hermann's music better to life than the ravishing strings in Psycho than EPS and his LA Phil. If they do it, they REALLY DO it! A wonderful and uncompromising approach to Filmmusic!Total dedication. Go for it."