This review was originally posted on Film Music Review
when this compilation CD was named
Best of the Month in August 1999...
ALFRED HITCHCOCK presents...Signatures in Suspense (62:36)
Compilation Produced by Didier C. Deutsch and Dana G. Smart. Orchestras conducted by John Addison, Paul Bateman, Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Muir Mathieson, John Williams.
Hip-O CD HIPD-64661.
+ = previously unavailable
1. Theme from Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV series)
2. Theme from DIAL M FOR MURDER ( Dimitri Tiomkin)
3. Theme from I CONFESS (Dimitri Tiomkin)
4. +Juke Box #6 from REAR WINDOW ( Franz Waxman)
5. Scene d'Amour from VERTIGO ( Bernard Herrmann)
6. The Wild Ride from NORTH BY NORTHWEST ( Bernard Herrmann)
7. PSYCHO (A Narrative for Orchestra)( Bernard Herrmann)
8. +Prelude from MARNIE ( Bernard Herrmann)
9. +MARNIE ( Bernard Herrmann)
10. +Main Title from TORN CURTAIN ( John Addison)
11. +Prelude from TORN CURTAIN ( Bernard Herrmann)
12. +The Ship from TORN CURTAIN ( Bernard Herrmann)
13. +The Radiogram from TORN CURTAIN ( Bernard Herrmann)
14. March from TOPAZ ( Maurice Jarre)
15. The London Theme from FRENZY ( Ron Goodwin)
16. Prelude from THE WRONG MAN ( Bernard Herrmann)
17. +End Credits & End Titles from FAMILY PLOT ( John Williams)
18. A Portrait of Hitch from THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY ( Bernard Herrmann)
How appropriate that this CD compilation is now available for the centennial of Alfred Hitchcock's birth (August 13, 1899). The 100th anniversary of his birth was on Friday the 13th -- how appropriate!!
This is a marvelous collection of great themes, 8 of theme previously unreleased, from some of the greatest film composers of the past 50 years. Included are both the familiar themes (VERTIGO and PSYCHO) and less available themes (I CONFESS and REAR WINDOW).
After the opening TV theme for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," there are two themes by Dimitri Tiomkin. Both are highly dramatic and heavily sentimental but not particularly memorable. The next theme by Franz Waxman from REAR WINDOW (track 4) is much more welcome, a swinging jazz combo theme. After some familiar tracks conducted by Bernard Herrmann (tracks 5-7), there are several cues from his score to MARNIE which haven't been released before. The "Prelude" (track 8) has a theme which was adapted into a pop song recorded Nat "King" Cole. It's another of Herrmann's gloriously rhythmic themes, full of subtle changes of tempo and dynamics.
The same can be said for the three tracks from TORN CURTAIN, all conducted by Herrmann himself. Just listen to John Addison's catchy pop-lite Main Title from this film (track 10) and then hear Herrmann's unused Prelude (track 11). Herrmann's theme is far more impressive with the forceful brass (16 horns) and woodwinds (12 flutes!) firmly stating the theme. According to Steven Smith's notes, Hitchcock asked Herrmann to write a score for young audiences who were "vigorous and demanding." Then there is the wonderful Main Title theme (track 16) from a vastly underrated Hitchcock film, THE WRONG MAN. This track is expertly conducted by one of Herrmann's fellow composers and friends, Elmer Bernstein.
Besides Tiomkin, Waxman, Addison and Herrmann, there are three other composers featured: Maurice Jarre (in a sprightly March from TOPAZ - track 14); Ron Goodwin (an imposing London Theme from FRENZY - track 15); and John Williams, who wrote the score for Hitchcock's last film, FAMILY PLOT. The End Credits & Titles music (track 17) is delightfully whimsical with its prominent use of harpsichord and strings, and is ideal for this clever comedy caper directed by the master of mystery, Alfred Hitchcock.
The accompanying 16 page is not in the commonly overdone color schemes found in many other compilations. This one is in plain old black and white - thank goodness! You can actually read the excellent notes written by Steven Smith, author of the biography of Bernard Herrmann. Also there are complete recording dates and film studio information.
Soundtrack collectors will probably already have many of these themes. But even so, this is still worth buying to have such a wealth of outstanding themes and suites or, as the CD cover says: "Signatures in Suspense." They have been skillfully put together as an appropriate tribute to that Master of Mystery, Alfred Hitchcock.
A highly recommended compilation well worth adding to your collection.
-- reviewed by Roger Hall, Film Music Review
ALFRED HITCHCOCK presents...Signatures in Suspense
Film in Focus Series
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