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Monday, July 03, 2006

CD REVIEW - Le Fatiche di Ercole/Ercole e la Regina di Lidia

Le Fatiche di Ercole/Ercole e la Regina di Lidia
Music by Enzo Masetti
Digitmovies CDDM057 (Italy)
Disc 1 - 46 Tracks 73:51 mins Disc 2 - 33 Tracks 53:51 mins

As I am finding it difficult to schedule enough time for reviewing lengthy CDs at the moment, the only option with this double-CD set was to tackle each of the two scores presented separately. Hence, tonight I'll address 1957's Le Fatiche di Ercole (otherwise known as Hercules to U.K. and U.S. audiences), which comprises the lengthy first disc in this set. My review of Disc Two will follow, hopefully tomorrow or the next day.
Hercules was the first in a long line of the Italian Peplum genre (basically sword and sandal oaters) and starred the impressive frame of bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Music from the film was originally issued on LP in the States, but was a disappointing affair, carrying narration,dialogue and sound effects. However, in 1984 C.A.M. issued two LPs featuring selected tracks from both Hercules and its sequel. For this release, C.A.M. again kindly allowed Digitmovies access to their archives and the result is that both scores are featured here complete, save for missing organ takes and electronic effects, in amazingly good mono sound. Added to this, both feature alternate mixes of certain tracks, minus the accompanying choral performances.
Hercules gets under way with the opening titles commencing in some furious action, before the sweeping main theme, with its nautical feel, makes its first appearance.
This theme is to crop up in quite a few subsequent tracks, and in some lovely arrangements, highlighting woodwind solos and choir, the latter particularly outstanding in the finale.
Other highlights include a light and bouncy theme heard in "Racconton di Iole;" a sturdy march heard in "Atleti;" the mix of joy and sadness, with sensitive violin playing in "Verso Iolco;" another sturdy march, with macho male voices in "Coro dei Marinai;" the menacing conflict, with swirling strings and choir in "Uragano;" the light-hearted "Prigionieri delle Amazzoni;" the passionate and romantic "Amore fra Giasone e la Regina;" and variations thereon, featuring theremin and female choir in "Coro di Amazzoni & Orfeo e il Coro di Marianai;" the bold gallop of "Battaglia con gli Uomini-Mostro;" and of course the aforementioned finale, with its brief conflict, before the gorgeous main theme soars to a big finish.
As you will have noted, there are 46 tracks to this score, with only 5 of these being the alternate mixes, which means that quite a few of the tracks are quite brief, which makes for a slightly disjointed listening experience, but if you like good. Old-fashioned, meaty orchestral scoring, you'll probably enjoy this one.
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills and poster artwork from the films, as well as fascinating behind the scenes shots and notes by Claudio Fuiano, Enrico Celsi and Tim Lucas. Watch out for my review of Ercole e la Regina di Lidia (aka Hercules Unchained, which will complete my guide to this welcome release.


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