Picks and Pans Review: Bernard Herrmann: the Film Scores

UPDATED 02/10/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/10/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Herrmann (1911-1975) wrote what he accurately described as "black-and-white music": moody, jarring, insinuating, sinister and, in the case of the themes from Marnie and Vertigo, a blend of the hauntingly melodic and icily magisterial.

The classically trained Herrmann first came to Hollywood in the early '40s to score Orson Welles's Citizen Kane, but his turbulent talent found its most satisfying expression in collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. Under Philharmonic director Esa-Pekka Salonen, music from films including North by Northwest, Torn Curtain and Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 is sharply and crisply performed. Psycho, with its signature shriek of violins, could render blood cryogenic.

It is the film composer's curse that scores don't easily stand as discrete artistic entities. So it is with the work of Herrmann. It is impossible to listen to this CD without mentally unspooling the Hitchcock oeuvre. (Sony Classical)

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