Varese's original soundtrack to Psycho finds Joel McNeely conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra through Bernard Herrmann's classic original score. This album is the first time the entire score has been recorded for an album and its remarkable how eerie and evocative the music is, even when its separated from the film. Psycho stands as one of Herrmann's finest moments, and even if many collectors and film buffs would prefer the original soundtrack recording, this version is essential for fans of the composer, since it is the clearest, cleanest edition of score yet produced.
The least popular of Alfred Hitchcock's late-'50s thrillers – perhaps because it is really a comedy – The Trouble with Harry also has the least well-known of the scores that Bernard Herrmann wrote for Hitchcock's movies. All of that is a shame, because – in keeping with the comedic nature of the movie – Herrmann assumed a lighthearted and upbeat, ironic mask that led to some of the most gorgeous and hauntingly beautiful music of his career; the composer himself clearly felt a fondness for it, as he revived it in 1968 as the basis for his "A Portrait of Hitch." The reed and horn passages are playful and ironic, and the signature string part, bridging the small-town innocence of the movie's setting, is one of the finest things that Herrmann conceived. It all makes for delightful listening, and is some of the best programmatic music to come out of Hollywood in the 1950s. The performance by Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is of excellent quality, capturing the finest nuances of the score, and the recording does it full justice.
Originally recorded in 1989, The Sacred Bridge contains a speculative program linking various genres of Christian and Jewish religious music, most of it medieval. The Boston Camerata continued to perform the program in various forms in subsequent years.
Billy Joel - Piano Man (1973). Embittered by legal disputes with his label and an endless tour to support a debut that was dead in the water, Billy Joel hunkered down in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, spending six months as a lounge singer at a club. He didn't abandon his dreams - he continued to write songs, including "Piano Man," a fictionalized account of his weeks as a lounge singer. Through a combination of touring and constant hustling, he landed a contract with Columbia and recorded his second album in 1973. Clearly inspired by Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection, not only musically but lyrically, as well as James Taylor, Joel expands the vision and sound of Cold Spring Harbor, abandoning introspective numbers (apart from "You're My Home," a love letter to his wife) for character sketches and epics…
It was pretty clear that Billy Joel had run out of steam by 1993's River of Dreams. He had shown signs of wearing on its predecessor, Storm Front, but his trademark melodic gift disappeared on River of Dreams and his words, even performances, were bone-tired – he even called the last song "The Last Song (No More Words)." So, it was no great surprise that he did not rush to record a follow-up, and when he started murmuring toward the end of the decade that perhaps he wasn't interested in pop music anymore, nobody who paid attention could have been surprised.