The pity for Bernard Herrmann is that he never got to record full editions of most of his later film music -- although by the time he was doing any of it, he had also slowed down so much in many of his tempos that the recordings he did do of a lot of the suites that he assembled were of somewhat limited appeal, more a matter of whetting the appetite of new listeners than satisfying anyone. This new recording of the complete music from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a case in point -- Herrmann's suite was taken at about half the speed of the original film recording, but the performance here by John Debney and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra matches the tempo of the music as used in the movie. To call the material at hand bracing would be an understatement -- right out of the box from the downbeat, the score is played briskly and assertively, but also sharply, so that the inner detail is present and easily audible in the state-of-the-art recording, but none of the excitement is missing, and the resulting CD is a profoundly moving listening experience. Herrmann managed not only to distill the dazzling visuals down to their tonal essence, but he also captured the audience's sense of wonder, so that the score is, in its own, quiet, professional, musical way, "oo-ing" and "ah-ing" with the audience at the unfolding special effects-driven fantasy; the music was almost as potent in spots as Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade orchestral fantasy, and the reason is obvious on listening to this performance -- in both cases, the composers, without compromising their art, allowed themselves to be swept up in the fantasy and the sense of wonder of the subject matter, an element that audiences have understood intuitively about both musical works. And the richness of the scoring and the care in the conducting and the playing make this a CD that may well get more than one listen in any given session. The annotation is also very thorough, focusing on the somewhat chaotic back story involving studio labor troubles that jeopardized the quality and timing of the production, and the overall release is one of the finest in its genre.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder
|Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, film score|