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ClassicsOnline Home » HERRMANN, B.: Film Music (Gamba)
The greatest film music composer
I grew up with Charles Gerhardt’s RCA recordings of film music and his recording of Bernard Herrmann’s music for Citizen Kane was one of my favorites from this sadly out-of-print series. Thankfully, this new recording featuring an extended selection of music from Citizen Kane (almost 50 minutes worth of music) and excerpts from Hangover Square (including the Concerto macabre) is excellent.
The Hangover Square music is well-suited to the film’s tale of madness and murder. Menacing piano chords, snarling brass, swirling strings and rattling percussion dominate. It’s not necessarily accessible music, but it certainly does set a mood and you must admire the fiery virtuosity conductor Rumon Gamba draws from the BBC Philharmonic players.
The most famous music from Hangover Square is the Concerto Macabre. If you have seen the film you will certainly remember the scene where the deranged composer George Bone hammers away at the piano as a building burns and collapses around him. Herrmann’s concerto owes an obvious debt to Liszt’s Totentanz and pianist Martin Roscoe plays the hell out of it. This is over-the-top music for an extremely over-the-top film sequence.
The Citizen Kane music is brilliant. Once again Herrmann serves what appears on the screen with a score that is not easy to pigeon-hole, just like the film’s title character. Herrmann’s music is a riveting mix of antic gallops and dark melancholy. There’s even a faux French grand opera aria that is nicely sung by soprano Orla Boylan. The BBC Philharmonic performances are all top-notch and the sound quality of the CD is stunning. It sounds trite, but when I listen to this CD I see the films in my head, I suspect this is high praise for a recording of film music. No other label comes close to Chandos in their film music series and I hope Gamba and the BBC have more Herrmann in store for us.more....
Bernard Herrmann - a genius from the start
Bernard Herrmann is responsible for the soundtracks of some of the greatest films of all time -- among them, Citizen Kane (featured on this disc), Vertigo, Psycho, and Taxi Driver. His ability to create moodscapes ranging from sheer horror to soaring melodic swells is uncanny and effortless.
On this disc, we hear Herrmann toward the beginning of his career in music from Citizen Kane (1940) and from Hangover Square (1944).
I was most anticipating hearing the BBC Philharmonic's recording of Citizen Kane, but it seems the real gem on this disc is the music from Hangover Square -- music that almost nobody has heard until now, because, well, almost nobody has ever seen or heard of the film.
Hangover Square is where the listener really gets a glimpse into the incredible composer that Herrmann would become. While clearly evident in his score for Kane, the impetuous madness in Hangover Square can easily be seen creeping into his scores for Vertigo and Psycho. And if hearing this great music for the first time weren't enough, track 4, the Concerto Macabre from Hangover Square is a triumph. Martin Roscoe handles this 11+ minute piano concerto with bravado, including the over 1.5 minute solo ending.
The music from Kane is quite varied stylistically for Herrmann. He goes from trademark clock-ticking fright to glorious swells in the strings (reminiscent of Vertigo's love themes) and seamlessly creates the fun, excited atmosphere of Russian circus music.
I love this disc and will return to it over and over again.more....
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HERRMANN, B.: Film Music (Gamba)