January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Bernard HERRMANN at Fox Vol. 1: Tender is the Night; A Hatful of Rain; The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit   OSTs   VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6052 [74:41]

Save around 22% with
Amazon UK


These 1950s and 1960s OSTs deliver the usual balance of authentic experience and sound degradation. Authenticity wins the day.

Tender is the Night (17 tracks) is the single largest helping on this silver platter. The first and last (1 and 17 - Hollywood-Rachmaninov wallow) tracks of the sequence are not by Herrmann. The score represents a fantasia for strings with only The Embrace touched with conventionality. Piercing poignancy and Sibelian elegies counterpoint ‘The Mirror’ which registers tellingly with its erupting terraces of string hysteria and the playful musette of ‘Vacation.’ The woodwind arabesques are reminiscent of the music for the fountain in Fleckers Hassan. ‘The Dawn’ is a deeply impressive evocation of the same line as Mussorgsky’s Dawn on the Moskva. A pretty dreamy manner is well sustained throughout. The sound quality very slightly distressed. The final (non-Herrmann) track is a woeful confection of cottonwool and caramel goo: avoid.

High throbbing strings deliver the tawdry theme of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. For the most part we are speaking of a score much afflicted with regret, chilly sheets of rain and November elegies with just a shudder of DSCH-style vibrancy and a final gloriously incongruous Hollywood sunrise. A Hatful of Rain (16 mins) is an extremely obscure score: all Hollywood bell-toll, jeering raggedy brass, motoric rhythmic pith and breathy string fanfares.

Excellent notes by Jon Burlingame (I hope to hear more from him) but no track timings and a Hatful of Rain is regrettably presented as a single track suite. The booklet includes stills from the films and monochrome reproductions of original theatre posters.

A nice piece of Herrmann memorabilia with the greatest rewards yielded by Tender is the Night. Not the place to start an exploration of Herrmann but with some good material. A valuable document.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links
but you can also purchase

Return to Index