Any comment on this celebrated film is superfluous and this almost applies
to Bernard Herrmann's equally much-praised music. Tony Bremner conducts his
Australian ensemble in a powerfully dramatic recreation of this, Hermann's
first film score. The production is lavish with a booklet that includes musical
examples, stills from the film plus a picture of the youthful Herrmann and
Welles together. There are very full music analytical notes, including details
of Herrmann's use of the Rosebud, Mother ambition/power and other leitmotifs
, by Tony Bremner, and a fascinating essay 'Score for a Film' by Bernard
Herrmann written for the New York Times in 1941 in which the composer
recalls his work on the score. Herrmann reveals that he was given much more
time than was the norm in those days to create his score and that he was
also given the freedom to orchestrate and conduct the music, (again this
was very much against the norm). He also tells how, against prevailing custom,
he worked on the film, reel by reel as it was being shot and cut and furthermore,
many sequences were tailored to match his music - particularly the numerous
montages. In this way Herrmann's music became something of a 'leading actor.'
In another interesting essay, producer John Lasher emphasises that this recording
is not only the complete score using the original instrumentation that Herrmann
used, but it also includes several cues composed but not retained in the
final print of the film.
I will not bore readers with track-by-track comment but would single out
some of the most impressive parts of the score: the brooding opening statement
of the Xanadu motif on trombones and its repeats on bass clarinets followed
by the Rosebud theme stated on bassoons as we progress through the mist-shrouded
estate to the great gothic house where Kane lies dying. Then there are the
montages full of wry ironic wit: the pompous and swaggering montage as the
Chronicle builds in poularity (before it crashes in the Depression) and the
Breakfast Montage as the love between Kane nad his first wife sours. And,
of course, the brilliant mock-opera aria 'Salaambô' composed so expertly
in the Late Romantic Franco-Oriental style. Following Kiri Te Kanawa's example
in the Charles Gerhardt recording of highlights of the score, Rosemary Illing
sings the aria as it should have been projected in the opera house.
This album is an absolute must-have for Herrmann admirers.