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Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music
Bernard Herrmann's career has no shortage of landmarks: Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Vertigo, Psycho, Taxi Driver—plus music for concert, television and radio. One of his greatest achievements is On Dangerous Ground (1952), a film noir produced by John Houseman and directed by Nicholas Ray, for which Herrmann wrote perhaps his quintessential score: furious chase music on the one hand, and heartfelt warmth on the other.
On Dangerous Ground stars Robert Ryan as a hard-boiled cop—with a habit of brutalizing suspect—sent from the big city to the snowbound countryside, where he must capture a dangerous murderer and rapist. Ryan becomes involved with a sympathetic blind woman, played by Ida Lupino, but when the blind woman turns out to be the murderer's sister, Ryan finds his ruthless pursuit at odds with his burgeoning emotions.
Ryan's character is expressed by drivingly rhythmic music with simple, triadic harmony and the conspicuous presence of a steel plate in the percussion section—and the eventual appearance of eight virtuoso horns in the climactic "Death Hunt." Lupino's placid, sensitive character is evoked by a heartfelt, lyrical solos of the unusual string instrument, the viola d'amore, played by Virginia Majewski—much more The Ghost and Mrs. Muir than Psycho.
This CD features Herrmann's complete masterwork in chronological order. Unfortunately, master tapes to RKO productions are long since destroyed, and this CD has been mastered from acetate discs in the Bernard Herrmann collection at the University of California at Santa Barbara. IMPORTANT: Although these discs have been transferred and denoised by specialists, the sound quality is entirely in mono. Many of the most important cues have been mastered from 16" 33 1/3 rpm discs in excellent sound (including the "Prelude" and major chase cues), but the remainder of the cues exist only on 12" 33 1/3 rpm discs with a great deal of surface noise. We have made every effort to improve the sound quality without distorting the music.
Liner notes are by Christopher Husted.