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David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2020

Bernard Herrmann became equally well-known as a conductor, composer with the music for CBS Radio, but will be best remembered for award winning film scores.

As well-known as America’s famous poet, Walt Whitman, when you add the two together you have the Radio Play by Norman Corwin, Whitman. Originally broadcast in 1944, when such programmes had a large audience, it was reconstructed by Christopher Husted in 2019. Herrmann and Corwin had both individually enjoyed much fame working on the radio, and now in 1945 they were brought together to produce a play, its wartime purpose being to rally the support of North America for the Second World War. Both had a good reason to do that, for they were of East European and Jewish descent and found that Walt Whitman’s poems, totally unchanged, could be brought together to form an emotional play. With a narrator as Whitman, and a chamber sized orchestra to add impact and colour, these many years after the end of the war, it still carries a profound message. Souvenirs de voyage, for clarinet and string quartet, came towards the end of Herrmann’s short life, and was proof of his range of genres that today we are beginning to overlook. In three contrasting and substantial movements, it is a beautiful score, blessed with attractive melodic material and couched in subtle colours. It is said that those many films, particularly those who rely of suspense to create fear, would be nothing without Herrmann’s music, and if you watch the famous film Psycho without the music, you will realise the truth of those words. Herrmann was to re-compose music from the film some years later to form a concert work, here rediscovered by the conductor, John Mauceri, in 1999. It would be difficult to imagine finer performances from a number of performers, Whitman, being a World Premiere Recording with the conductor, Angel Gil-Ordonez and the Washington-based PostClassical Ensemble, William Sharp the ideal narrator. Top quality sound, and It comes with an excellent booklet. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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