They say that good things come in small packages, and this CD would seem to be the musical proof of that statement – certainly there are few more unassuming releases in Bernard Herrmann's output. Joy in the Morning is one of the more obscure movies ever scored by Herrmann and, as is pointed out in the notes by Christopher Husted, it was also the composer's last successfully completed major studio project, coming just ahead of the calamity that attended his work for Alfred Hitchcock on Torn Curtain. It has fallen between the cracks across the years, principally because the movie itself was a good deal less stellar than most of the Hitchcock projects (or, for that matter, the Ray Harryhausen projects) with which Herrmann distinguished himself in the early/mid-'60s. This CD is astonishingly good, however, being not only a close cousin to Herrmann's music for Hitchcock's Marnie (1964) but also containing thematic material in common with his clarinet quintet Souvenirs du Voyage, and string writing that also recalls his work for Vertigo and even Psycho, as well as writing for the reeds and winds that have echoes as far back as Beneath the 12-Mile Reef and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
George Fenton delivers on his soundtrack for Anna and the King with an instrumental score that deftly mixes sweeping orchestrations with ethnic percussion. The main theme "Arrival at the Palace" begins with a very exotic violin solo that quickly blossoms into an epic orchestral movement seemingly ready to crescendo at a moment's notice (and it does!). Shorter cues such as "Letter of the Week" and "The House" are passages that perfectly convey the movie's exoticism and its melancholic moods. Throughout, Fenton's music seems to balance between excitement and sadness–the perfect sonic interpretation of The King and I's classic tale. Obviously, many folks will turn to this soundtrack for Joy Enriquez's Babyface-produced single "How Can I Not Love You," included at the very beginning of this disc. One hopes they'll stick around long enough to enjoy the film's score, one of Fenton's very best.