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B. HERRMANN: Music from Citizen Kane et al. – National Philharmonic Orch. / Charles Gerhardt – HDTT (192/24 download of open reel)

BERNARD HERRMANN: Music from Citizen Kane et al. [TrackList follows] – National Philharmonic Orch. / Charles Gerhardt – HDTT [various formats including hi-res 4.0 Surround Blu-ray Audio and PCM stereo PCM & DSD from www.highdeftapetransfers.com] [This one is 192/24-bit FLAC] 52:29 *****:

Bernard Herrmann’s star remains in the ascendant.  None other than the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle gave performances just last month of Psycho:  A Narrative for String Orchestra in concert with Arnold Schoenberg’s Die glückliche Hand and Carl Nielsen’s Pan and Syrinx and Symphony No. 4, surely illustrious companion pieces.

The collection in this release is a transfer from commercial open reel of one of Charles Gerhardt’s many releases in RCA’s 1970s collections of music from the cinema.  Herrmann was very well-served by Decca during his lifetime with a series of recordings with the composer on the podium, by RCA in the Gerhardt series, and by Naxos and Tribute Film Classics in more recent years.

Produced by George Korngold, engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson and conducted by Charles Gerhardt over two days in June 1974, these magnificent recordings have worn extremely well, their only sign of age the slightly limited playing time by today’s standards.  Balance in Concerto macabre from Hangover Square, in which the piano solo is played by Joaquin Achúcarro, is excellent and the effect suitably macabre.  Dame Kiri te Kanawa is the soloist in the Aria from Salammbô, and gives a virtuoso performance to a level which would have been a hit with or without Kane’s backing.  The music from the other three movies is suitably gripping and played with sympathetic high tension, and compiled into short suites which I think stand alone successfully with ease without the accompanying visuals.

Sound quality is excellent. This is the second of two volumes released so far by HDTT which give an option to acquire the 4.0 version with its highly effective surround sound (which appeared on the original CDs in Dolby Surround), which sounds full and fat in its 24/192 presentation as reviewed.  Stereo FLAC0s are available from 24/96 upwards, and there is also a choice of DSD versions.  Musically and sonically very rewarding, this well-known and well-loved selection deserves yet another strong recommendation, with an added prod for those equipped with surround playback.

TrackList:

01 Herrmann – On Dangerous Ground
02 Herrmann – Citizen Kane
03 Herrmann – Beneath The 12-Mile Reef
04 Herrmann – Hangover Square
05 Herrmann – White Witch Doctor

—Peter Joelson

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