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Obsessed with Vertigo and NxNW


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#1 of 9 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted January 24 2013 - 07:56 AM

I recently have been collecting a lot of soundtracks and my current obsession are Hitchcock and Bernard Hermann when its's not Star Trek. I recently got the Intrada release of North by Northwest. If Neil Bulk reads this, its a great effort! It sounds great and has the full Bernard Hermann score. Many thanks to you and your colleagues efforts on that. I appreciate hearing the hiss! It probably means it wasn't processed to death! This inspired me to finally chase down a soundtrack for Vertigo. I knew the Vertigo soundtrack was iffy when the film was restored in 1995 by Robert Harris. I wonder if he'll see this thread and comment. My understanding is that the tapes were destroyed and the score was found from another source. Plus one track was unusable and had to be found from a print's audio track for use in the film's restoration. So I didn't have much reason to think a remastered CD would be avaialble for it. But I found the Varese Saranande release from 1996 (in conjunction with the restored Vertigo film by Harris and Katz) and I just got it last night, plus the re-recording done in 1995 also from Sarabande conducted by Joel McNeely. I've only listened to the original sound track so far. I was expecting it to be pretty bad, and there are a lot of sound drop-outs during the Prelude and Rooftop track and The Streets too. Plus a really bad section in one other track. Other then those and a few others I'm sure, the fidelity is much better then I thought. So at least it survives in this form and is listenable. Too bad the Graveyard and Toombstone could not be saved and used. I also read there is another re-recording done in the 1990's in Paris by James Conlon that is little known and highly regarded as being very accurate to the original performance and contains all 42 cues. I'll be seeking that disc out and I understand it's part of a book. There's also a release from Mercury Records but it contains far fewer tracks and was released in 1990. I'm guessing its based on the LP release from the origial film's release. I'd be interested in other's thoughts and comments on this soundtrack for Vertigo and it's availability. In listening to the North By Northwest soundtrack, I could hear little bits of notes that re-appear on the Vertigo score but expanded upon and built up more on. Pretty neat stuff. Too bad this score didn't survive as well as North by Northwest.

#2 of 9 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted January 25 2013 - 07:55 AM

I accidentally found a thread from the HTF via a Google search and not the HTF search from 2005 where Mr. Harris explains that the music score magnetic tape was junked in 1967. But that the symphonic score was found at Paramount in 1994 and was in serious decay suffering from vinegar syndrome. So what does that mean? Were those floor recordings from a film source and not a tape? I have now listened to the McNeely re-recording and I think it's a pretty nice job at replicating the score. I understand McNeely used Herrmann's notes, and didn't replicate Muir Mathieson's work that he did for the film. So there is a difference in tempo in places. Not sure I like it. It sounds great! But because I'm used to the film, I think I prefer the original's performance and emphasis on certain notes. But the McNeely disc is sonically much better of course! I also accidentially found via Google a thread here on the HTF discussing the merits of both CD's. So that was a nice find. I'll be chasing down the second re-recording and see how that sounds. Its really too bad the original doesn't exist intact anymore.

#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted January 25 2013 - 08:03 AM

Nelson, As you know, I love the music of Bernard Herrmann. This talk of yours now has me wanting to spin any film in which his music is heard. Fahrenheit 451 is always a good choice for me. :)

#4 of 9 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted January 25 2013 - 08:18 AM

Scott, thanks for chiming in! I've been so focused on the two Hitchcock titles, Vertigo and North By Northwest, that I forget he did other films as I'm learning now!

#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted January 25 2013 - 08:21 AM

Nelson, As Lee will attest, Bernard Herrmann also wrote "Edith Suspects" for TOS. J/K. ;)

#6 of 9 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted January 25 2013 - 08:36 AM

This will require another listen!

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted March 30 2013 - 08:56 AM

There's something about the old Mercury CD that, to me, subtly sounds "better" to me than the comparable tracks on the 1996 Varese version. I know that the Varese is expanded and has more material, but for where they overlap, the old Mercury seems to excel. It could be purely subjective - it could be that the Mercury was mastered when the tapes were newer and less damaged (LP master).

 

I had a heck of a time locating the Mercury and this was back in the 90s before the Varese version appeared. I'd found it in a Best Buy (remember when Best Buy had lots of CDs?) and it was the only one in the rack. When I got it home I discovered a slight pinhole that caused skipping in my CD player of the day.

 

Calling up Best Buy after Best Buy, I finally was able to locate another copy but I had to cross state lines to get there, and this one was perfect. I picked up the Varese a few years later and did comparisons between the two. To this day, if I want to listen to the Herrmann score, I'll grab the old Mercury disc first.

 

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#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted March 31 2013 - 11:47 AM

There is something addictive about NXNW - a magnificent score, perhaps my favourite Herrmann of all time. It has been some time since I listened to the Vertigo score so will have to dust that one off again (after I give NXNW another spin today).  


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#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted April 05 2013 - 05:01 AM

The original Mercury Lp was not issued in stereo so the CD uses a mix made at some point in the early 80s by Phillips for their Golden Imports reissues.




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