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Bernard HERRMANN (1911 - 1975)
Echoes for String Quartet (1965) [19.04]
Souvenirs de Voyage for Clarinet Quintet (1967) [28:00]
Psycho Suite for String Quartet (transcribed and arranged by Richard Birchall) [9.53]
Julian Bliss (clarinet)
Tippett Quartet (John Mills (violin); Jeremy Isaac (violin); Julia O’Riordan (viola); Bozidar Vukotic (cello))
rec. St. Paul’s Church, Southgate, 10 and 28 June 2010 (Echoes; Souvenirs); Kore Studios, London, 5 October 2010 (Suite)
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD234 [56.59]

Experience Classicsonline
1911 is Herrmann centenary year. I hope that this will provide the excuse - sadly such excuses are necessary - for companies to start freshly recording his concert and cinema music. Much needed are vivid new discs of the single symphony and single opera. The latter, Wuthering Heights (1943-51) was broadcast last year (14 July 2010) in a fine concert version by Orchestre National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon conducted by Alain Altinoglu with a classy cast from l’Opéra Berlioz-Le Corum de Montpellier. You can still catch this event on the Radio France website. Perhaps this could be issued on CD? It may be that the Minnesota Opera run (April 2011) will be recorded. Then again there is also Herrmann’s own 1960s recording of the opera briefly available as Unicorn UKCD/2050-52, now long gone abnd commanding dizzy prices on e-bay and amazon market-trader. Australian Eloquence have issued Herrmann’s exultant Decca legacy on Bernard Herrmann Film Classics 480 3784 [72:04 + 68:11] and Cinema Spectacular 480 3787 [56:05 + 68:27]; neither are to be missed. Very soon his Decca Planets will controversial be reissued by Eloquence.

Echoes is a tender single movement string quartet. It is a sensitive mood piece with gentle melancholy that is touchingly woven into the predominant introspection - a most unshowy piece in Lonely Waters mode. Herrmann’s famed Anglophilia radiates from this melodic music. Two years later Herrmann turned to the clarinet quintet for his Souvenirs de Voyage. It is again a gentle nostalgia-soaked work – sensitive yet with its arteries never clogged with lachrymose heaviness. It shares much the same atmosphere as the more pastorally soliloquising sections of the Finzi Clarinet Concerto - all very understated yet poignant. The movements are marked either Lento or Andante. A mistily cautious happiness suffuses the third and final movement which also at times touches on the manner of a Strauss waltz and at others suggests a Neapolitan love-song. The grit in this collection is provided by the little ten minute suite carved out by Richard Birchall from the score for Psycho. It’s all very skilfully done and like everything else here superbly played. Scudding anxiety, ascending tension, broodingly nurtured violence and terror are all faithfully articulated. While there are times when you miss the weighty impact of a full string orchestra the insight brought to this music by the Tippett Quartet pays off.

The Amici quartet made the first recording of Echoes [21:18] in the 1960s and this was issued coupled with Souvenirs de Voyage [29:01] on a Unicorn LP RHS332 circa 1972. The quintet was played by the Ariel Quartet with clarinettist Robert Hill. This also came out on a short-lived Unicorn CD (UKCD2069).

To complete a fine CD there’s a stonkingly good liner note by Neil Sinyard.

Rob Barnett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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