This is a strange pairing of soundtrack re-recordings by their respective composers -- logical in its way, as they both come from the 1960s Decca library and both cater to a relatively popular side of the soundtrack field, but strange nonetheless. Ernest Gold's film music was massively popular in his own time, which extended right up through 1999, with pieces such as the music from Exodus becoming actual pop standards; it's inventive and also deceptive in its complexity, and the perceived demand was such that Gold was contracted to make these recordings in the same year as the latest of the scores represented, for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in 1963; Bernard Herrmann's music, by contrast, was mostly underappreciated by the public in his own time, until just about the time that he cut the recording at hand, in late 1968. Gold's music, all of it here composed exclusively for films by producer/director Stanley Kramer, is challenging in all the appropriate spots but mostly accessible and, if you will, reassuring, whereas Herrmann's music, written for the films of Alfred Hitchcock, is edgy, often unsettling, and filled with unexpected touches. So think of this double-CD set as a kind of Yin/Yang purchase -- Exodus' passion and reverence in its string-dominated suite balanced by Psycho's slashing strings and nasty sense of humor; and it's all a big, rewarding balancing act in terms of some of the best movie music of its era, and also a sonic showcase, bright enough to impress enthusiasts of space-age pop sounds of the late '50s and early '60s. The annotation by Oliver Lomax doesn't tell us much that we didn't already know, but the remastering by Michael Dutton is superb, bringing out the sharpest and best sonic elements of both albums (which were considered audiophile quality in their own time). The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Herrmann does better work than the London Festival Orchestra under Gold -- the Herrmann material is much tougher to get right -- but all of it is worth hearing on a technical level.
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