Author Topic: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots  (Read 26029 times)

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Offline relm1

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #40 on: October 08, 2011, 08:31:10 AM »
I own both recordings of Herrmann's "Moby Dick" cantata and here are my impressions. 

Herrmann's cantata demonstrates his early influences of Vaughan Williams and Britten at their most austere. To be compared with these titans of English music is a good thing. As one would expect from anything by Herrmann, there is atmosphere and moodiness aplenty. The music is dark and troubled and this new Chandos CD is very well recorded with some lovely performances.  In general, this recording is polished with deep bass and rich sonorities but at some instances, the strings sound a bit thin, and the brass lack the bite that Herrmann’s own recording from the late 1960s had.  Perhaps Herrmann's style of conducting lends itself to being over the top in a way that we have become accustomed to in his music and when it is played "straight", it feels somewhat restrained. The Chandos percussion and winds sound excellent. “Ishmael – It was a clear steel blue day” and the monologues of Ahab are particularly beautiful.  Comparing this recording to the composers own demonstrates how skilled a conductor he was.  It does inhabit the same sound world of some of his contemporary scores such as the masterpiece, “Citizen Kane” and his Symphony. It would have been nice if Chandos included a performance of some other rare concert piece by Herrmann such as his delicate early work, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. From a compositional point of view, Herrmann’s piece is at its best during the somber moments. The longer movements seem a bit disjointed lacking a sense of overall structure.  Herrmann here reminds me of Vaughan Williams somewhat earlier cantatas such as “Sancta Civitas” but the Vaughan Williams has more structural clarity.

To summarize, it is hard to beat the composers own version with its intensity however the Herrmann performance featured clipping and shows its age. This Chandos version is the technical winner though lacking some of the intensity those familiar with the original recording would expect.  As a more mellow performance, this newer recording succeeds very well in the more tranquil moments that are played dramatically and recorded beautifully. Those who can’t get enough Herrmann will enjoy this CD but will probably keep around Herrmann’s own recording for its boldness despite its clipping. 

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #41 on: October 08, 2011, 08:58:26 AM »
I listened to the new Chandos recording the other night.

I am interested in your comments about the "early influences of Vaughan Wiliams and Britten". I agree that I hear both composers in the work but I wonder whether Herrmann-who wrote 'Moby Dick' between 1936 and 1938-was influenced by Britten or influenced Britten. How much early Britten would Herrmann actually have heard before 1938? Britten apparently attended a New York Phil. performance under Barbirolli. I just wonder if the influence was as much the other way?

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2011, 09:42:02 AM »
Interesting question, Colin... And Karim, thanks for sharing your impressions!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline relm1

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2011, 11:04:26 AM »
I listened to the new Chandos recording the other night.

I am interested in your comments about the "early influences of Vaughan Wiliams and Britten". I agree that I hear both composers in the work but I wonder whether Herrmann-who wrote 'Moby Dick' between 1936 and 1938-was influenced by Britten or influenced Britten. How much early Britten would Herrmann actually have heard before 1938? Britten apparently attended a New York Phil. performance under Barbirolli. I just wonder if the influence was as much the other way?

Wow, I didn't realize that.  Interesting point! 

Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #44 on: October 09, 2011, 06:10:42 PM »
Many thanks to all for their comments: let's hope that Wuthering Heights might also be in the works for a new CD!
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Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #45 on: February 02, 2012, 11:53:58 AM »
Recently I obtained the original soundtrack of On Dangerous Ground made by Film Score Monthly (the CD is out-of-print unfortunately), and I must say this score ranks with Herrmann's best.  One hears premonitions of Vertigo, North By Northwest, and even Psycho in the music.

The CD came from tracks, some of which were damaged, meaning that a revolving hiss or scratchiness is sometimes present: for most of them, however, (especially the rousing "Hunt" tracks, the sound is very good, although monaural.  With some tinkering a sound system can bring out the orchestra.

The movie I saw many moons ago, and recall the score being a little buried: it is a Nicholas Ray movie about a rogue detective sent away from the city who becomes involved in a murder investigation in the "far north" of New York state.

Anyway, SOMEBODY please record the score in this century!
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Offline Bogey

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #46 on: February 03, 2012, 08:04:22 AM »
Recently I obtained the original soundtrack of On Dangerous Ground made by Film Score Monthly (the CD is out-of-print unfortunately), and I must say this score ranks with Herrmann's best.  One hears premonitions of Vertigo, North By Northwest, and even Psycho in the music.

The CD came from tracks, some of which were damaged, meaning that a revolving hiss or scratchiness is sometimes present: for most of them, however, (especially the rousing "Hunt" tracks, the sound is very good, although monaural.  With some tinkering a sound system can bring out the orchestra.

The movie I saw many moons ago, and recall the score being a little buried: it is a Nicholas Ray movie about a rogue detective sent away from the city who becomes involved in a murder investigation in the "far north" of New York state.

Anyway, SOMEBODY please record the score in this century!

That one has been on my wish list for some time.  I used to subscribe to FSM until they went digital.  Some of their cds are amazing and can fetch high sums after they go OOP.  I might want to pull the trigger on this one.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 08:06:27 AM by Bogey »
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #47 on: February 03, 2012, 09:29:24 AM »
That one has been on my wish list for some time.  I used to subscribe to FSM until they went digital.  Some of their cds are amazing and can fetch high sums after they go OOP.  I might want to pull the trigger on this one.

If you are a Herrmann fan, this is something you will most probably be delighted to have, even with the monaural sound and the noise from some of the damaged originals.

It also has short outtakes of Herrmann talking to the orchestra: classic nasal New Yawk accent!   8)
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Offline Bogey

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #48 on: February 03, 2012, 09:52:11 AM »
If you are a Herrmann fan, this is something you will most probably be delighted to have, even with the monaural sound and the noise from some of the damaged originals.

It also has short outtakes of Herrmann talking to the orchestra: classic nasal New Yawk accent!   8)

Thanks!  Just snapped one up off of Ebay.  Only one seller, but less than the Amazon group.  Looks as if the availability is starting to dry up a bit, so thought it prudent to order now.
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Bogey

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #49 on: February 03, 2012, 09:54:02 AM »
Love this shot of Benny  and Hitch....may have to make it my avatar for a bit.

There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2012, 07:09:38 PM »
My brother sent me this Los Angeles Philharmonic performance of The Death Hunt from On Dangerous Ground:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/lqL5gEoXWBk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/lqL5gEoXWBk</a>
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Offline Bogey

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #51 on: February 06, 2012, 08:52:37 PM »
My brother sent me this Los Angeles Philharmonic performance of The Death Hunt from On Dangerous Ground:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/lqL5gEoXWBk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/lqL5gEoXWBk</a>

That was cool!
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #52 on: September 06, 2012, 04:15:36 AM »
We have written NOTHING since February here???!!!   :o

I have just received the French performance of Herrmann's opera Wuthering Heights.

So far I have only had time to hear the opening CD but was very happy with the sound and performance quality.



Available for c. $30.00 from a British seller.  I received it within 2 weeks.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #53 on: September 06, 2012, 08:52:45 AM »
Les Hauts de Hurlevent, I like the title even better en français.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #54 on: September 06, 2012, 08:55:12 AM »
A subtle touch which escaped me the first few times I watched Twelve Monkeys: even when Cole and Railly are no longer actually watching Vertigo, the soundtrack continues to play Herrmann's score from the Hitchcock film.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #55 on: September 06, 2012, 09:56:46 AM »
A subtle touch which escaped me the first few times I watched Twelve Monkeys: even when Cole and Railly are no longer actually watching Vertigo, the soundtrack continues to play Herrmann's score from the Hitchcock film.

Okay, so I need to hit the library and find Twelve Monkeys!   ;D
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Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #56 on: September 06, 2012, 11:07:41 AM »
I have just listened to CD 2 of Wuthering Heights: again, very nice!  The ending of Act II is not to be missed, and Act III (so far) has some very fine moments.

I should admit that I am concentrating more on what the orchestra is doing, and on the music itself, rather than on the words.  A second hearing will be done with more attention to the text.




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Offline Cato

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Herrmann's Psycho and ...Eleanor Rigby???
« Reply #57 on: September 12, 2012, 05:46:43 AM »
From a Wall Street Journal article about "producer" George Martin and the Beatles:

Quote
"In June 1965, Mr. Martin launched his rock-classical experiments, beginning with "Yesterday." "We had never done anything like that before—and no one else had either. When I first suggested adding a string quartet, Paul [McCartney] grimaced and said, 'I don't want Mantovani, thank you.' I said, 'It doesn't have to be like that—we can be more clinical. We can use a baroque string quartet.'"

When "Eleanor Rigby" was slated for recording a year later, Mr. McCartney pushed for strings. "My approach was greatly influenced by Bernard Herrmann and his film score for 'Psycho,'" Mr. Martin said. "He had a way of making violins sound fierce. That inspired me to have the strings play short notes forcefully, giving the song a nice punch."

See:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444327204577617182988336066.html?mod=WSJ_ArtsEnt_LifestyleArtEnt_4
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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #58 on: September 12, 2012, 02:13:05 PM »
I have just listened to CD 2 of Wuthering Heights: again, very nice!  The ending of Act II is not to be missed, and Act III (so far) has some very fine moments.

I should admit that I am concentrating more on what the orchestra is doing, and on the music itself, rather than on the words.  A second hearing will be done with more attention to the text.


They release some interesting stuff. I bought their live recording of Pizzetti's opera,Fedra (also Montpelier). Great sound,very little,if any,in the way of annoying coughing or feet clumping about! And Pizzetti's opulent,symphonic approach to opera kept me listening,despite the absence of an english libretto. And very cheap too! (Around twelve quid for a new release;wish they were all that low!) Anyway,Bernard Herrmann in French sounds pretty cool! I liked the Unicorn Lp version,and the prospect of Herrmanns lush orchestration in digital sound quality is VERY tempting!

Offline Cato

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Re: Herrmann's Humdinging House of (Hardly Haphazard) Harmonic Hoots
« Reply #59 on: September 12, 2012, 02:54:53 PM »
Anyway,Bernard Herrmann in French sounds pretty cool! I liked the Unicorn Lp version,and the prospect of Herrmanns lush orchestration in digital sound quality is VERY tempting!

I wondered about that when I bought it, but no, everything is in English.

About the rest of the 3rd CD with the opera's conclusion I have not written anything: as with the other parts, the music is evocative of the story, and the death of the heroine is exquisitely handled.  This is not Wagner nor is it the Herrmann of the fantasy movies like Jason and the Argonauts.  The music is rather understated, and large loud orchestral sections are rare.

The performance is very fine: and yes, the audience does not intrude at all.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)