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Bernard Herrmann’s Snows And 5 Fingers

Victor Carr Jr

Artistic Quality:

Sound Quality:

Marco Polo’s classic film score series (now on Naxos) has two of Bernard Herrmann’s finer pre-Hitchcock efforts. Both scores are from 1952 and are among the first projects Herrmann completed after moving from New York to Los Angeles and signing with 20th Century Fox. The films were box-office as well as artistic triumphs for Fox–and for Herrmann. As usual with Herrmann scores, the music is so intricately bound up with the visual images that it sometimes sounds less than distinctive when divorced from the film. Herrmann wisely compiled suites of a number of his scores (he recorded the Snows of Kilimanjaro Suite for Decca), making for a more cohesive and dramatically satisfying presentation of the music for the concert hall.

Of the two featured here, 5 Fingers is the more consistently interesting, highlighted by exotic scene painting (with its suggestions of Turkish folk music) and powerfully dramatic passages in the final episodes. Kilimanjaro has its own colorful moments as well, opening with a swirling, snow-swept overture in the style of Mussorgsky. Other highlights include the lovely and poignant Memory Waltz and the intense sequence for The River. William Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra uncannily evoke classic Hollywood with their stylistically true, brilliantly played renditions of Herrmann’s inimitable music. The recording quality is far superior to what any original soundtrack could offer, even if it is somewhat shallow in perspective. Film music fans, and especially Herrmann fans, will be thrilled.


Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

BERNARD HERRMANN - The Snows of Kilimanjaro; 5 Fingers

  • Record Label: Naxos - 8225168
  • Medium: CD

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