Soundtrack Information

Bernard Herrmann - The CBS Years Vol. 1: The Westerns

Bernard Herrmann - The CBS Years Vol. 1: The Westerns


Release Date: 2003

Format: CD

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Best of 2003: Best Special Release

Track Listing

1. Have Gun - Will Travel Pilot: Three Bells To Perdido : Suite
2. Western Suite - Prelude
3. Western Suite - The Ambush
4. Western Suite - Tranquil Landscape
5. Western Suite - Dark Valley
6. Western Suite - The Meadows
7. Western Suite - Bad Man
8. Western Suite - Gunfight
9. Western Suite - Rain Clouds
10. Western Suite - Sun Clouds
11. Gunsmoke: The Tall Trapper - Suite
12. The Indian Suite - Indian Ambush
13. The Indian Suite - Echo
14. The Indian Suite - Indian Signals
15. The Indian Suite - Indian Fight
16. Western Saga - Prelude
17. Western Saga - Street Music
18. Western Saga - Open Spaces
19. Western Saga - The Hunt
20. Western Saga - The Watching
21. Western Saga - The Canyons
22. Western Saga - Gunsmoke
23. Western Saga - Gunfight
24. Western Saga - Victory!
Track lengths not available for this album. If you have track length/time information for this album, please e-mail it to us at and we will add it to the database.

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by Brian McVickar
October 23, 2003
[3 / 5]

Any news of unreleased Bernard Herrmann music being preserved on disc is reason enough to be enthused, but the announcement of releasing his scores for television westerns of yesteryear proved to more intriguing than most.  The man's style and personality permeated all that he composed, from the shortest transition cue to the longest denouement, from radio, TV, concert and film work, and these selections prove to be no different.   This is an album made especially for devoted Herrmann fans as well as fans of early television scores, but for younger collectors they might find it a bit old fashioned.  

Herrmann's pointed use of specific instrumental colors must have been put to the test in the medium of television, where smaller music budgets challenged composers to provide depth and excitement with fewer performers.  Herrmann responded by using only woodwinds, timpani and harp for the dramatic and suspense cues and then only brass and timpani for the action and fight cues.  There is rarely a time when these sections of the orchestra are combined in any cues.  No doubt they could not pay all the members for a combined session, but it also lends a real dichotomy to the album to switch between the brooding intensity of the woodwinds to the sharp punch of the brass.   There are lighter moments, however, to be found in "Street Music" and "Victory".

The action cues, of which there are plenty, are propulsive bouts of rhythmic timpani complimenting the chattering, busy brass and in these I was reminded of certain pulsating sections of Jason and the Argonauts.   Standouts include "Indian Fight", "The Hunt" and "Western Saga - Gunfight".   The number of players is less than on Herrmann's feature film scores, but this does not mean the music is lacking in power and vigor.  On the other side, the woodwind/harp-only cues shift between low, mysterious registers, as found in portions of Citizen Kane, and middle range tracks such as "Sun Clouds", "The Ambush" and "Dark Valley", which can be both mysterious and alluring, as in parts of Journey To The Center Of The Earth.  Again, the smaller number of performers lends these tracks a more intimate sound, perfect for television.   As with all Herrmann music, there is a strong sense of drama, of serious and portentous meaning, and dangerous, seductive qualities. 

The two extended suites on the album are real treasures.  The first, from the pilot episode for Have Gun, Will Travel, fully utilizes the range and power inherent in a brass and timpani combination, at times ferocious then measured yet always brimming with menace.  The other, "The Tall Trapper" Suite from Gunsmoke, is a rich, melancholy and absorbing work for all sections of the orchestra.  From the somber basses and French horns to the mysterious bassoons and muted trumpets, this one has classic Herrmann written through and through, as does the entire album. 


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Released: December 15, 2004