Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Collection: Psycho – The Essential Alfred Hitchcock   SILVA SCREEN 2CDs FILMXCD 320 [132:49]




This is a new compilation of all previously released selections. Although regular Silva customers will know this to be so, we feel the company should make this point clear on their packaging. The release has clearly been assembled to celebrate the centenary of Hitch’s birth and in that respect it performs a valuable service because CD1 has some unusual and interesting material paralleling the HIP-O CD reviewed above. Silva have now deleted the original albums on which they were included. Silva also assure me that every track has been re-mastered in Dolby sound and HDCD. Quite a few selections have been re-edited even to the extent, in one case, of adding a fragment of orchestral texture.

CD1 commences with Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette (not ‘the’ as is printed on the CD). Here, the City of Prague Philharmonic play it in full. There are four selections from Hitch’s British films. First there is Jack Beaver’s score for The Thirty-Nine Steps which is exciting and menacing enough with some romantic and vaudeville elements. Philip Lane develops Charles Williams and Louis Levy’s brief and fragmentary music for The Lady Vanishes so that it emerges here as a miniature piano concerto very much in the popular style of the day. Lane also reconstructs and orchestrates Louis Levy’s Stage Fright Rhapsody compiled from the music he scored for the film. Finally there is Richard Addinsell’s sentimental Celtic-flavoured music for Under Capricorn. But all these scores pale in contrast to the more dynamic music from the Hollywood composers. The most intriguing is the little known music of Hugo Friedhofer for Lifeboat (again a Lane reconstruction). This is a very powerful evocation of the sinking freighter at the beginning of the film with the swirling waters vividly caught; so, too, is the plight of the few survivors crammed together in the lifeboat.

It has to be said that Silva face formidable competition in many of these tracks especially the Herrmann selections. Remaining with CD1, Gerhardt delivers a more polished version of Waxman’s Rebecca; Waxman’s Suspicion fares somewhat better as does the David Buttolph arrangement of Poulenc’s music for Rope. However, I much prefer the George Korngold-produced 16 minute suite from Strangers on a Train in a cracking, tense performance by Charles Ketchum on a 1985 Varèse Sarabande recording. (This Alfred Hitchcock album is now deleted – if you see a copy anywhere don’t hesitate snap it up!) I did like the Bateman’s reading of the other Tiomkin score - for Dial M for Murder, a dynamic, startling rendition of this dark and highly evocative music. Franz Waxman’s jazz-based ‘Lisa’ for Rear Window makes a pleasant conclusion to CD1.

Much of CD2 is made up of Herrmann material which has been reviewed fairly recently. There are creditable performances of the music from Vertigo, Psycho, Marnie, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Trouble With Harry, and Torn Curtain - all widely available elsewhere and best performed by the composer himself. The most interesting track is Lyn Murray’s sparkling sophisticated music for To Catch a Thief. The rest of CD2 is made up of a stirring rendition of Jarre’s so-so March from Topaz, a nice stately reading of Ron Goodwin’s London theme from Frenzy and John Williams’ witty end titles for Family Plot – oh and a good iron-hard sounding main title for Torn Curtain as written by John Addison, and actually used by Hitch. A variable collection


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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