Bernard Herrmann

Psycho [1960] [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Danny Elfman's role on Gus Van Sant's absurdly controversial remake of Hitchcock's classic Psycho is tantamount to that of, say, an arranger of a classic Ellington piece: he was to keep the original identifiable, yet make it sound fresh. He does that quite well with his arrangement and orchestration of Bernard Herrmann's classic score. He has changed even less than Van Sant did (in a way, he had less room to maneuver, since Van Sant could throw in the occasional weird subliminal frame, but Elfman's score had to keep going), but hearing the new recording is still exciting, thanks to Herrmann's chilling, unique score. Hearing this new stereo recording is quite thrilling, actually, since it is robust and surges with energy. It pales slightly in comparison to the original score, which has imbedded itself into popular consciousness, but this is entertaining all the same -- and for Elfman and Herrmann fanatics, it's quite fascinating as well, since it does reveal slight differences between the two renowned composers.

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