In collaboration with Litto Enterprises Inc., Music Box Records is very proud to present one of its most ambitious releases yet - a classic Bernard Herrmann score from one of his last efforts and an important milestone in his immense career for Brian De Palma´s classic melodrama Obsession (1976) written by Paul Schrader and starring Geneviève Bujold, Cliff Robertson and John Lithgow. In a career often spent paying tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with the likes of Dressed to Kill, Blow Out and Body Double, Obsession even today stands as De Palma’s ultimate fever dream homage to the director who’d made Bernard Herrmann a household name as the romantic master of musical suspense during an eight film collaboration, no more so than with 1958s Vertigo. Yet Obsession’s reincarnation of that masterpiece showed just how devious De Palma always was in his admiration, cloaking a truly seditious plot twist that would’ve given even Hitchcock pause within sleek, star-filtered visuals. Obsession remains his most fervently romantic, and dare one say innocent attempt to recreate the studio gloss of a time when outright violence and sex were left to the mind’s eye, its rage and sensuality truly made explicit in its music. It’s a powerful, stylistic subtlety that increasingly made Obsession into the filmmaker’s most discerning cult film.
As more ensembles perform and record Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, its status as a minimalist masterpiece is increasingly affirmed. Ensemble Signal's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi is one of several amazing performances that have matched Reich's original ECM New Series recording in technical brilliance and expressivity, and it has even earned the composer's approval for being, "…fast moving, spot on, and emotionally charged." Under the direction of Brad Lubman, Ensemble Signal maintains a relentlessly steady pulse and articulates the interlocking patterns with absolute precision, though the shifting tone colors are perhaps a little clearer in this performance than in other recordings. The microphone placement is not so close that individual instruments stand out, but there is enough separation of parts to allow some sense of direction and the orientation of the smaller sub-groups of pianos, xylophones, marimbas, strings, clarinets, and voices. This is a mesmerizing performance that will transfix listeners, and the music is so compelling that it will linger on well after the CD stops. Highly recommended.
Violinist Tim Fain has worked extensively with minimalist composer Philip Glass in performances and in the preparation of new pieces, and the most impressive result of their collaboration may be the Partita for solo violin (2010), a seven-movement suite written especially for Fain. Associations with Johann Sebastian Bach's violin partitas are inevitable, and it's clear that Glass has had them in mind while composing in what can be described as an aspirational, rather than a merely imitative, manner. Glass has for the most part avoided his customary ostinatos and static sections, and his use of broken chords only suggests counterpoint, rather than propulsive rhythmic patterns. He has also eschewed any direct references to Bach or Baroque style, yet the Partita's kinship with the older models is certainly felt, and Fain's playing has a lot to do with it. The ebb and flow of tempos and the expressive use of rubato give the Partita an introspective feeling, and the freedom of individual expression is quite removed from the locked-in, high-energy ensemble playing that was Glass' early trademark style.