CITIZEN KANE - Classic Film Scores of Bernard Hermann
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano Joaquin Achucarro, piano. National Philharmonic Orchestra / Charles Gerhardt, cond.

SUNSET BOULEVARD - Classic Film Scores of Franz Waxman
National Philharmonic Orchestra / Charles Gerhardt, cond.,.

Both of these are gems in the historic RCA Classic Film Scores series (check our major article about these recordings in our Features section. Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman wrote magnificent music for movies, and the very best of it is heard on these recordings both made in the warm acoustics of London's Kingssway Hall in 1974. Gehardt brings out all of the beauty and excitement in this music, and the hand-picked National Philharmonic consistently shows its virtuosity. Both of these releases re enhanced by the authoritative program notes. John Waxman, the composer's son, wrote them for Sunset Boulevard, and notable film authority Christopher Palmer wrote notes for the Herrmann recording.

Citizen Kane begins with the exiting percussive Death Hunt from On Dangerous Ground, a showpiece for eight French Horns. Then we have a suite from Citizen Kane including the exquisite aria from Salambo. Gerhardt wanted to present this music as Kane imagined it would sound rather than replicate the aria as sung poorly in the film. This is sung to perfection by a very young Kiri Te Kanawa. The colorful saute from Beneath the 12-Mile Reef includes exotic sounds of nine harps, and Herrmann's depiction of an octopus. Hangover Square is a piano concerto featuring Joachin Accucarrro. In this, a demented composer strangles his girlfriend, and dies in his burning home as he plays the premiere of his piano concerto! The suite from White Witch Doctor features vivid unusual percussion. As a bonus, Epoch has included an exciting short work, The Attack on the Mountain Stronghold from The King of the Rhyber Rifles,originally issued as part of the Spectacular World of Classic Film Scores disk.

Franz Waxman's disk opens with a noble, bold suite from Prince Valiant, and we also have music from A Place in the Sun, Sunset Boulevard, Rebecca and The Philadelphia Story.The 7-minue Creation of the Female Monster interlude from The Bride of Frankenstein, shows Waxman in a somewhat atonal frame—very effective!. The thrilling Ride to Dubno from Taras Bulba is not heard as an entity in he film; Gerhardt had to do a bit of editing to make it a continuous ride. It is a showcase for brass instruments

These recordings always were high fidelity stereo showpieces but now when we her them as originally recorded in quadraphonic sound, they are spectacular indeed. Percussion instruments are spread throughout the listing area, as are the multiple harps. Don't miss these!

R.E.B. (October 2018)