Bernard Herrmann and a Clarinet Quintet

Vertigo

Bernard Herrmann is most famous as a film composer who wrote the scores for major motion pictures including Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, and Cape Fear. His most notable projects include his work with Alfred Hitchcock for the films Psycho, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. What many people don’t know however, was that Herrmann was also a prolific composer of concert pieces, including a symphony, the opera Wuthering Heights, the cantata Moby Dick…and the clarinet quintet Souvenirs de Voyage. We started work on his quintet last month and had the chance to perform it twice. We were amazed with how similar the quintet is to his Vertigo score. In fact, many times while rehearsing, we’d discover almost direct musical quotations from the movie. After the performances, we couldn’t resist getting together for a special Farallon Quintet Vertigo screening.

For those who missed our performances of the work, we’ll be playing it again on April 9, 2014 for a noon concert at U.C. Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. Even the Bernard Herrmann Society got word of this performance and listed it on their upcoming concerts page. Note that we’re in good company…listed right in between the New York Pops and the Cleveland Orchestra!

At any rate, we hope you have the chance to discover this amazing piece by listening to the YouTube video below. It’s hauntingly melancholy, impressionistic, and filled with dreamlike solitude.

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