The Battle of Neretva - complete score (1969)
The Naked and the Dead – highlights (1958)
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William T. Stromberg
rec. October 2010, Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, Russia, DDD
Full track-list at end of review
Music reconstruction and preparation by John Morgan, Anna Bonn, William Stromberg

Herrmann admirers everywhere have been waiting impatiently for this World War II- themed disc. I mentioned it last year in my review of the Chandos Moby Dick project. It now joins TFC’s previous gloriously executed Herrmann discs (review).
This is the first recording of the full version of the score for The Battle of Neretva. It runs to 30 tracks some of which span barely 60 seconds. The original soundtrack was recorded in a much abbreviated form by the composer with the LPO (Southern Cross, Label X, Prelude). It ran to about half an hour of music rather than the current version which comes to little short of twice that duration. The Neretva music is stirring, obstreperous, resolute and grim. This is searingly so in Rout (tr. 6). Herrmann was a magician when it came to evoking - and the vice-like possession of - moods. The orchestra has been swollen by Herrmann with augmented brass and percussion sections. The themes used often have that Russian accent which you can hear for example in The Poem (tr. 5). A more accustomed piece of Herrmann’s irresistible and refrigerated ethereal romance can be heard in Pastorale (tr. 11), Separation (tr. 25) and Riva’s Death (tr. 28). There is lyricism too. It is given that Neapolitan spin in From Italy (tr. 7) and Italian (tr. 26). A sentimental overlay arises in tr. 22 (Danica’s Death) with an unashamedly yearning close-up accordion. The dragging music for The Road (tr. 10) recalls a certain famous Shark theme from Jaws. One of the most atmospherically sinister tracks is that for The Trestle (tr. 14). There the music racks and rattles. Baxians might be forgiven for thinking of Tintagel when they hear Suspense (tr. 15). On the other hand, tried and tested Herrmann fanatics will know Death Hunt (tr. 17) from the same exuberant hue and cry cue from On Dangerous Ground (1951) also revived by Charles Gerhardt for the Classic Film score series and reissued on Sony RCA Red Seal (88697 81264 2). There’s plenty of catastrophic and oppressive material – you can sample The Bridge (tr 28) and the Finale (tr. 29). You are also not spared some brutalised Soviet bombast in End Title (tr. 30). Just remember the jingle, strut and blast of those pastiche Nazi marches in Benjamin Frankel’s Battle of the Bulge music on CPO. It’s but a small goose-step away. The Battle of Neretva was shown recently on Freeview in a rather watery print. This international war spectacular starred Yul Brynner, Curt Jurgens and Orson Welles among many others.
Also included on this great value disc are highlights of Herrmann’s score for the film The Naked and the Dead which starred Cliff Robertson and Raymond Massey. There’s an appositely brash Prelude, an atmospherically shadowy Jungle, a darkly discordant Snake – rather like the spider cue in White Witch Doctor and the Octopus track in Beneath the 12 mile Reef, - a metallic double harp in The Mountain Ledge and a brilliant track called The Fall in which Herrmann imaginatively establishes the mise-en-scène with cascading and tumbling brass writing.
The 32-page exemplary booklet is filled with extensive notes and illustrations by Jim Doherty and Kevin Scott.
Classic Herrmann. Rejoice collectors everywhere! This is a recording project done to an enviable standard.

Rob Barnett
Classic Herrmann. Rejoice collectors everywhere. This is a recording project done to an enviable standard.

Full Tracklist
Battle of Neretva
Prelude [2:26]
Nazi Attack [2:47]
Retreat [3:23]
Dawn [1:39]
The Poem [0:51]
Rout [1:05]
From Italy [2:46]
The Flag [0:58]
Tanks [1:38]
The Road [5:12]
Pastorale [1:57]
March [1:51]
Grief [1:15]
The Trestle [0:50]
Suspense [1:19]
The Lookout [1:40]
Death Hunt [2:12]
The Bridge [1:30]
The Message [0:57]
Waiting [1:08]
Hunt Scherzo [1:48]
Danica's Death [1:41]
The Front [2:19]
Battle and Fanfares [4:59]
Separation [3:36]
Italian [0:58]
Slow March [2:09]
Riva's Death [1:17]
Finale [2:45]
End Title [1:39]
The Naked and the Dead
Prelude [1:57]
The Jungle [0:56]
The Snake [1:53]
The Buzzards [1:41]
The Grenades [0:24]
The Pass [1:51]
Wilson's Death [0:58]
The Mountain Ledge [1:33]
The Fall [0:48]
The Fog [0:40]
Croft's Death [1:26]
Prayer and Rescue [1:38]
Finale [1:14]

Classic Herrmann. Rejoice collectors everywhere. This is a recording project done to an enviable standard.