Bernard HERRMANN (1911-1975)
Jane Eyre – film score (1943) [68:22]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
rec. Concert Hall, Slovak Radio, Bratislava, 3-7 January 1994. DDD
NAXOS 8.572718 [68:22]
This CD is a reissue of a disc originally released as Marco Polo 8.223535. Having said that it makes a welcome return to the catalogues to inform and impress a new generation of film music fans.
We included a review by Rob Barnett in our sister site Film Music on the Web in 1998 since discontinued but its reviews and articles remaining as an archive. Frankly I could hardly better Rob’s insights so I am going to be lazy and include it next with a word or two about alternative recordings at the foot of the review:-
‘The Jane Eyre film starred Joan Fontaine as the grown-up Jane. Orson Welles was Mr Rochester. Welles at the same time controlled many other aspects of the film. Agnes Moorhead and Henry Danielle played the villains. The film plot is based on Charlotte Brontë's novel.
‘This was Herrmann's 4th film score written between Magnificent Ambersons and Hangover Square. It also separates the score for the 1941 symphony and the Brontë opera Wuthering Heights which was written in same year as Jane Eyre.
‘From the very first moment of the first track this music proclaims itself to be underlining a Gothic romance. The jumpy sleigh ride  is carefree but icily treacherous. This is a Herrmann trademark which can also be heard in the sledge music of Kane and the glorious marine fanfaring of the music for Beyond the Twelve Mile Reef. Much of the score has a Sibelian edge. Try tracks 3, 9 and 13. Thornfield Hall  opens with an horrific machine-room percussive episode. The ‘Valse Bluette’ played on a (not at all offensive) synthesiser is a tinkling music-box waltz. Herrmann calls on all the glorious variety of his orchestral palette. Track 8 for example offers Eastern-edged and commanding sea music. Track 10 at 00.57 features a remarkably lovely extended oboe melody heard over undulating and gently chugging strings. Track 12 has a village dance later cut through with rough-hewn fanfares: a very original effect woven over an innocent Herrmann tune. Track 13 has a haunted beauty resolving into a nightmare of braying rather like something from the gloomiest pages of a Pettersson symphony. (Did Herrmann know Pettersson's music or vice versa?). In track 16 there is yet more high work for the violins. A solo violin chastely serenades rather like Holst with a touch of pastoral Butterworth. ‘The Wedding’  has a satisfying theme with turns of melody over chugging deep strings; Tippett-like yearning is under its fingernails. This is very British in feel. Like all the best Gothicry: in the midst of beauty suddenly the dust and mildew appear. In ‘Jane's Farewell’ a plaintive oboe calls and laments. This is all unashamedly melodramatic with yet more high whistling strings and strangled distant fanfares. This music has a slightly crazed dream-storming character: Black clouds rush across a moonlit sky. In the finale we return to the big lamenting and exulting theme coursing over the shuddering deep strings.
‘This project was clearly a labour of love for the Swiss conductor Adriano who painstakingly reconstructed the score from a third generation photocopy and by listening through the ‘dialogue and the patina of the years to the music on the soundtrack. He recreated the score in computer software and generated parts from the computer file.
‘There are fine notes by Adriano (Ed. Keith Anderson) with plenty of background on the film, the music, its reconstruction and the place of the music in Herrmann's output. The booklet reproduces six stills from the film.
Adriano’s interpretation faces competition from Bernard Herrmann’s own recordings of his Jane Eyre music most notably on the following recording – please follow the link below to the Amazon site because it is not at all clear what label it is released on:-
Additionally one or two excerpts appear on other recordings. Try the Decca Phase 4 (448 948-2) recording of Herrmann conducting his own film scores including Citizen Kane, Jason and the Argonauts, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Devil and Daniel Webster as well as a 13 minute suite of music from Jane Eyre which the composer recorded in London in 1970.
A welcome return to the catalogues to inform and impress a new generation of film music fans.
2 Jane’s Departure
3 Jane Alone
4 Dreaming – Vanity
5 Elegy – Jane’s Sorrow
6 Time Passage – The Letter
7 Thornfield Hall - Valse Bluette
9 The Piano –Promenade
10 Rochester’s Past – The Fire
11 Duo – The Door
13 Mr Mason
14 The Room – The Rattle
15 The Garden
17 Song (Jane’s Confession) – The Storm
18 The Wedding – The Wife
19 Jane’s Farewell (Rochester’s Confession)
20 Jane’s Return