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Herrmann: Moby Dick, Sinfonietta Hybrid SACD, SACD

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir
  • Conductor: Michael Schønwandt
  • Composer: Bernard Herrmann
  • Audio CD (26 Sept. 2011)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B005JA9U3E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,394 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Moby Dick - Various Performers
  2. Sinfonietta for Strings - Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Product Description

CD Description

Bernard Herrmann, born in New York in 1911 to Russian immigrants, is best known today as a composer of film music. Most notably he worked with Alfred Hitchcock on classic productions such as North by Northwest, Vertigo, and Psycho, as well as on Orson Welless Citizen Kane and Martin Scorseses Taxi Driver. But despite his strong ties to Hollywood, Herrmann always thought of himself as a composer who worked in film, and never as a mere film composer. It was during his years as conductor and composer with the CBS Symphony Orchestra that Herrmann got the inspiration for Moby Dick A Cantata. Initially, Herrmann intended the work as an opera, but he soon concluded that the stage was not an ideal medium for a musical version of Moby Dick and a purely orchestral work could not make use of Herman Melvilles prose. A successful compromise was the cantata form, and Herrmann completed the work in 1938. It was premiered by John Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic on 11 April 1940, the conductor describing the work as the most important work that he had heard from a young American composer. For a short period in the early 1930s, Herrmann was inspired by the works of Arnold Schoenberg and his followers. The infatuation did not last long. It culminated and ended with the Sinfonietta for Strings of 1935 36, a work which never received a public performance. The Sinfonietta remained forgotten until the early 1960s when Herrmann adopted it as a model for the latter half of his famous film score to Hitchcocks Psycho, which illustrates Norman Batess disturbed state of mind. This disc presents the premiere recording of the Sinfonietta in its original version. The works are performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, joined by the Danish National Choir in Moby Dick, under the direction of Michael Schønwandt, Music Director of the Royal Danish Orchestra and the Royal Opera in Copenhagen, and Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic. This is a Hybrid SACD.


Bernard Herrmann is recognised as one of the greatest film composers, with credits from Citizen Kane to Taxi Driver. But his career before he moved to Hollywood tends to be overlooked. In the 1930s and 40s, he was an active conductor of new music, championing Charles Ives among others, and composing for the concert hall both works on this disc were written during this period. The Sinfonietta for strings was his first published work, completed in 1936, but never performed at the time; Herrmann revised it in 1975, though he had already recycled some of the material in his score for Hitchcock's Psycho in 1960. This is the first recording of the original version, a strikingly well-crafted piece in five short movements, fascinating above all for its debt to the Second Viennese School, in what was to be a short-lived flirtation with modernism. The Moby Dick Cantata is very different, much closer to the world of Herrmann's later film music. What began as an opera on Melville's novel morphed into this cantata, first performed in New York in 1940, conducted by John Barbirolli. It's a mix of imposing choral set-pieces, orchestral interludes and solo narrations and this Danish performance captures its immediacy. Having such an English-sounding tenor, Richard Edgar-Wilson, in the role of the narrator Ishmael is a bit disconcerting, but another British singer, baritone David Wilson-Johnson, is superb as the manic Captain Ahab.**** --Guardian,29/09/11

In surround sound it is simply stunning with vivid singing and playing,all of the highest order.Thoroughly enjoyable and worthy of exploration. EDITORS CHOICE --Gramophone,Dec'11

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Many will know Bernard Herrmann for his music for (Hitchcock) movies like Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho and so on. Not many will be familiar with his concert music. Herrmann took concert music very seriously and he made a considerable contribution to every genre. No doubt his concert music was influenced by his movie music and vice versa. Most of his music has the repetitive formula with variation technique into the extreme. But it's most of the time so cleverly done you won't get bored. He heavily has Wagner (love theme Vertigo for instance which has a Tristan und Isolde kind of influence) as his role model but is nowhere as heavy handed. He wasn't a great melodist and he's very sparse with the material that came to him but the sound he could get from strings alone (Psycho) is to my mind very unique. This Chandos disc offers his cantata Moby Dick and the Sinfonietta for Strings. Herrmann recorded much of his concert music himself for the Unicorn Kanchana label in the 1970s but this disc has a superb recording to offer which will give you great pleasure if listened to with headphones. This is the reason why I'll never be satisfied with downloadable music of Mp3 or Flac format, this SACD has a superb growling bass and a terrific bass drum which never hinders the other instruments producing their sound picture. So please folks go for the physical format whenever you can (afford). The cantata is an exuberant work with a great storm and hunting scene, sailor's songs and some spoken dialogue which is very well integrated in the score. The Sinfonietta for Strings (first version) is very introvert and sparse, here Herrmann tries to do his best to sound somewhat like an American Schoenbergian, it's cleverly done but not very memorable and still easy on the ear.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent value and a very worthy performance. The soloists and chorus voices are very good and the orchestra terrific.
I preferred the soloists on the Unicorn performance (which I had on LP) but I am unwilling to pay the price asked or the CD and this Danish Ensemble are a more than capable alternative. Well worth the money.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e6ce624) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e6d2228) out of 5 stars A wonderful modern piece 4 Feb. 2014
By J. Weaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am familiar with Herrmann's work only in a cursory fashion, having heard his soundtracks while watching the associated movies. But this is a wonderful piece. It is properly dramatic and somber. It is reminiscent of the Peck movie, which he did not do the sound track for. The mood is somber from the start, and never really lightens. Impending doom is the recurrent theme, reinforced by frequent outbursts of percussion. You just know things aren't going to end well. The recording quality is excellent, and the chorus serviceable if not exceptional. But just to have a decent modern cantata makes it all worth while, particularly when the Met has taken to doing such absurdities as "Nixon in China".
2 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e6d4e64) out of 5 stars received in time 27 April 2012
By Yves Beauchemin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Asd I didn't yet played my cd, I cannot assure you that there is no defects. But in 99,9 %of the cases, there isn't.
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