Varese's original soundtrack to Psycho finds Joel McNeely conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra through Bernard Herrmann's classic original score. This album is the first time the entire score has been recorded for an album and its remarkable how eerie and evocative the music is, even when its separated from the film. Psycho stands as one of Herrmann's finest moments, and even if many collectors and film buffs would prefer the original soundtrack recording, this version is essential for fans of the composer, since it is the clearest, cleanest edition of score yet produced.
The least popular of Alfred Hitchcock's late-'50s thrillers – perhaps because it is really a comedy – The Trouble with Harry also has the least well-known of the scores that Bernard Herrmann wrote for Hitchcock's movies. All of that is a shame, because – in keeping with the comedic nature of the movie – Herrmann assumed a lighthearted and upbeat, ironic mask that led to some of the most gorgeous and hauntingly beautiful music of his career; the composer himself clearly felt a fondness for it, as he revived it in 1968 as the basis for his "A Portrait of Hitch." The reed and horn passages are playful and ironic, and the signature string part, bridging the small-town innocence of the movie's setting, is one of the finest things that Herrmann conceived. It all makes for delightful listening, and is some of the best programmatic music to come out of Hollywood in the 1950s. The performance by Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is of excellent quality, capturing the finest nuances of the score, and the recording does it full justice.
Citizen Kane: The Classic Film Scores of Bernard Herrmann is probably the best of the entire series by conductor Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Every track is worthwhile and memorably played, especially Beneath the 12-Mile Reef and the suite from Citizen Kane, the latter highlighted by Kiri Te Kanawa's performance of the Strauss-like aria from Salammbo.
This delightful release, from the Indian Summer of Bernard Herrmann's recording career, always got neglected by its potential audiences, ignored by Herrmann's fans in favor of his recordings of his film music or his own classical compositions (or more conventionally familiar works such as The Planets) and missed totally by jazz listeners of a historical bent. The material contained herein is distinctly symphonic or – perhaps more accurately – concert hall jazz, the work of established composers coming to grips with and using the then-new music in their own idiom…