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CD Review

Music for Alfred Hitchcock

  • Bernard Herrmann:
  • Concert Oveture "The Man Who Knew Too Much"
  • Prelude and Love Scene from "Vertigo"
  • Main Titles from "North by Northwest"
  • Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra
  • Franz Waxman:
  • Suite from "Rebecca"
  • Suite from "Rear Window"
  • Dmitri Tiomkin:
  • Suite from "Strangers on a Train"
  • Suite from "Dial M for Murder"
  • Arthur Benjamin: Cantata "The Storm Clouds" from "The Man Who Knew Too Much" *
  • Danny Elfman: End Credits from "Hitchcock"
* Klaudia Kidon, soprano
* Danish National Concert Choir
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/John Mauceri
Toccata Classics TOCC0241
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The major labels are still great in many ways despite all my cynicism, but smaller labels are arguably more important. This disc of Hitchcock music, all conducted (and mostly arranged) by veteran conductor John Mauceri, proves nothing short of a Godsend for film freaks. While you could raise your brows at Danish musicians playing American movie scores, I promise you that weirder things have happened in this industry, and Mauceri is a real pro.

What strikes you upon a quick listen to this disc is the sheer diversity of moods and styles that made these films so famous. Waxman and Herrmann were excellent all-around musicians, and as conductors and composers their work still stands tall today. Tiomkin and Benjamin also get a nod, as does modern master Danny Elfman. Mauceri's arrangement of the music into suites is a highly enjoyable way to discover this music, and they are generally successful. Among the surprises are Herrmann's own rearrangement of Benjamin's music into a Cantata. Texts would have been useful, but the overall impression is quite positive. Danny Elfman's 2012 piece could be mistaken for something in a Batman movie (sorry, Danny), but finds the composer still able to write rich, dark sounds. Would you want anyone else to do this? I think not.

While Mauceri is a fine conductor, I would have preferred his Danish forces to dig deeper on a few occasions. For example, the string tone at the start of Psycho proves somewhat unconvincing. It sounds like a Hollywood sound, but a sharper rhythmic profile would not have gone amiss. Conversely, the Danish orchestra does well by most of the program, even if they are admittedly nobody's first choice in this music. Still, fans of these films absolutely need this, and the sound is excellent. Thank you, Toccata Classics!

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman