Bernard Herrmann – The Mysterious Film World Of..

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

An OUTSTANDING RECORDING — with a huge three-dimensional stage, open, clear, extended up top and down low — the sound on this White Hot Side One is nothing short of AMAZING. And side two isn’t far behind! 

Side one boasts some wonderful material from Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts. Who else but Herrmann could have orchestrated such phantasmagorical goings on?

The Three Worlds Of Gulliver Suite takes up all of side two. The complete score from which the suite is taken can be found on the original Herrmann album The Three Worlds of Gulliver, a long-time and extremely rare member of the TAS Super Disc List.

Borrowing from the Best

One of the reasons this music is wonderful is because it’s been more or less lifted from, and orchestrated exactly like, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Herrmann was no doubt familiar with Rimsky-Korsakov’s work, and knew that this “sound” was exactly the one that would work for the film. He overlayed his own compositional style onto Rimsky-Korsakov’s and the result is a soundtrack of breathtaking beauty, full of exotic instrumental colors and delicious audiophile-candy percussion.

For entertainment value and blockbuster sonics, this album is hard to beat.

Taxing the Limits

This album used to be on the TAS Super Disc list but appears to have been deleted some years back. We still consider it a Super Disc, as long as you have a pressing like this that actually lives up to the hype (ours or anybody else’s).

An orchestral dreadnought such as this requires mastering and pressing of the highest quality. This music taxes the limits of LP playback itself, with deep organ notes (listen for the famous Decca rumble accompanying the organ if you have the deep bass reproduction to hear it); incredible dynamics from every area of the stage; masses of strings playing at the top of their registers with abandon; huge drums; powerful brass effects everywhere — every sound an orchestra can produce is found on this record and then some. (You will hear plenty of sounds that defy description, that’s for sure. Some of the time I can’t even imagine what instrument could possibly make such a sound!)

Selling the Hype

Record dealers that sell records based on their reputation — and that means pretty much all of them, present company excluded — are selling the hype. If they haven’t played the record, they can’t tell you what it sounds like, TAS List or no TAS List. The catalog number may be right, but finding the sound that lives up to the description can only be done one way: by playing the record. Most copies of The Mysterious Film World, whether they have a Decca label or a London one (all of the ones we are selling are mastered and pressed by Decca; some get one label and some get the other) leave something to be desired.

It’s positively shameful. This music is so good! On top of that, it’s custom made for audiophiles. Audiophiles are supposed to be the ones who can appreciate the wide range of colors Herrmann created, with the help of what a wise man once called the single greatest instrument ever invented: the modern symphony orchestra.

Mysterious Island Liner Notes

Mysterious Island marked the third collaboration between composer Bernard Herrmann and the leading independent producer of family films Charles H Schneer and the foremost exponent of three dimensional animation and special visual effects Ray Harryhousen – the triumvirate already had to their credit the innovative ‘Seventh Voyage of Sinbad’ and the charming picturesque fantasy ‘The Three Worlds of Gulliver’ and the association would culminate in the renowned ‘Jason and the Argonauts.’

The score for Mysterious Island is one of the most dramatic in all film history rivaled only, perhaps, by the same composer’s ‘Seventh Voyage of Sinbad’ in its deployment of massive blocks of dense orchestral color and in the bizarre and brilliant invention that so artfully illustrates Ray Harryhausen’s grotesque menagerie of unnatural misfit monsters – sight and sound blend to form one of filmdom’s most vivid and persuasive excursions into the realm of fantasy.


Side One (Mysterious Island and Jason & the Argonauts)

The Balloon
The Giant Crab
The Giant Bee
The Giant Bird

Talos’ Death

Side Two (The Three Worlds of Gulliver)

Lilliputians 1 & 2
Victory 1 & 2
The King”s March
The Tightrope
The Chess Game

AMG Review

This album was recorded by the composer early in 1975 and has proved to be one of the more enduring parts of Bernard Herrmann’s catalog, a steady seller on LP, and issued several times on CD, including an audiophile version from Mobile Fidelity.

During the early to mid-’70s, Herrmann began re-recording many of his earlier scores at Kingsway Hall in London with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. The sound glitters, some of the brightest and richest audio of its period (attested to by the album’s being part of Decca/London Phase 4 Stereo), and the performances have a dignity and intensity that makes the music — drawn from the key parts of Herrmann’s scores for the Ray Harryhausen-created fantasy films The Three Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, and Jason and the Argonauts — seem even more serious and profound than it originally did.

Herrmann tends to take the tempos slower than he did in the original scores, which gives him and the players a chance to open up the detail and nuances in the music, bringing out their surprising depth and complexity. What’s more, the players sound like they’re having the time of their lives playing it.