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Herrmann: The Devil And Daniel Webster / James Sedares


Release Date: 03/22/1994 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7224   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
Performer:  Kenneth Young
Conductor:  James Sedares
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 51 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Koch International's amazing James Sedares zeroes relentlessly in on the essence of Bernard Herrmann's playfully prickly personality in graphically pictorial versions of the Currier and Ives Suite (a first recording) and deeply moving representations of a rediscovered and rapturous Idyll (another first recording) and the elegiac Berceuse.

-- Paul A. Snook [Want List, 1995]


The music written by Bernard Herrmann for William Dieterle's 1941 film The Devil and Daniel Webster (a.k.a. All That Money Can Buy and Daniel and the Devil), which won him his only “Best Original Score“ Oscar, certainly stands as one of the high points in career of one of American music's major originals. Even Herrmann's celebrated
Read more scores for Hitchcock films do not come across quite as ominously as the opening movement (“Mr. Scratch,“ for the devil, of course, marvelously played by Walter Huston) of this suite, which Herrmann put together in 1942. The music is also considerably more dissonant and jarring than most of what one hears in early Hollywood film scores. In complete contrast is the second movement (“Ballad of Springfield Mountain“), a lilting but ineffably sad and moody piece which, at two or three points, moves into a few measures that startling foreshadow part of the love music for Hitchcock's Vertigo. The third (“Sleighride“) and fifth (“Swing Your Partners' ') movements reveal an Americana side of Herrmann surely influenced by one of his early idols, Charles Ives, while the fourth movement (“The Miser's Waltz“), heard as the devil's envoy (Simone Simon) dances the life force out of the town money lender (in one of the film's more bizarre film/music interactions, she also hums this tune to the hero's baby earlier in the picture), is a gripping and morbid danse macabre. Those interested in seeing and hearing how all of Herrmann's brilliant score works with the film should avail themselves of a laser-disc player and purchase the Criterion Collection laser disc of The Devil and Daniel Webster, which restores the butchered eighty-four-minute print generally screened to its original 106-minute length.

As noted in his program commentary by Christopher Gabriel Husted, Silent Noon, a revision done by the composer in 1975—and edited by Husted—of his 1933 Aubade for chamber orchestra, this “idyll“ shows the strong influence of Frederick Delius. True. But it also solidly reveals a composer infinitely more interested in generating somber moods out of harmonic and instrumental color than in writing pretty themes and developing them, a proclivity that served him enormously well as he later worked against the big-theme and leitmotif tendencies prevalent in film music. One certainly feels this side of the composer, but in a more recognizably Herrmannesque voice, in the deep tristesse and ultimate tragedy that pervade For the Fallen, a berceuse, written in the slow 6/8 meter preferred by Herrmann for this type of ambience, commissioned in 1943 to honor the dead of World War II. It is one of the masterpieces of the composer's nonfilm oeuvre. As for the Currier and Ives Suite, Herrmann's own “pictures an at exhibition“ composed in 1935 and inspired by five works from the famous American lithographers, the suite not unsurprisingly plays around with various semi-classical staples—the waltz, the galop, etc.—by applying various distortions to them, rather like an Americana Shostakovich, but in a tamer harmonic, if not instrumental, idiom. Although I prefer the more harmonically inventive Herrmann of The Devil and Daniel Webster, I must say that the Currier and Ives Suite managed to keep me involved and, yes, amused while also providing a few glimpses toward some of the Citizen Kane score that would follow five years later.

James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra definitely capture the spirit of these Herrmann works, both emotionally and musically. Indeed, this recording exposes both the manic and the depressive sides of Herrmann (along with lots of phases in between), and Sedares expertly weaves his way through all of the mood changes as if he were experiencing them himself, which perhaps he was. He also seems to have elicited a good deal of enthusiasm and commitment from his orchestra, which benefits greatly from producer/engineer Michael Fine's usual warm and rich sound.

-- Royal S. Brown, FANFARE [9/1994] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
The Devil and Daniel Webster: Suite by Bernard Herrmann
Conductor:  James Sedares
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1993 
Venue:  Symphony House, Wellington, New Zealand 
Length: 20 Minutes 1 Secs. 
2.
Silent noon by Bernard Herrmann
Conductor:  James Sedares
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1993 
Venue:  Symphony House, Wellington, New Zealand 
Length: 10 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Christopher Husted
This work is a revision by Bernard Herrmann of his piece "Aubade" (1933). 
3.
Currier and Ives Suite by Bernard Herrmann
Performer:  Kenneth Young (Tuba)
Conductor:  James Sedares
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1993 
Venue:  Symphony House, Wellington, New Zealand 
Length: 13 Minutes 16 Secs. 
4.
For the fallen by Bernard Herrmann
Conductor:  James Sedares
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1993 
Venue:  Symphony House, Wellington, New Zealand 
Length: 6 Minutes 52 Secs. 

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