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Monday, November 05, 2007


Agi Murad il Diavolo Bianco/Ester e il Re/Gli Invasori
Music by Roberto Nocolosi & Angelo F. Lavagnino
Digitmovies CDDM092 (Italy)
Disc 1 - 34 Tracks 73:54 mins Disc 2 - 27 Tracks 66:44 mins

Another fabulous collection of music, this time by Roberto Nocolosi (with Angelo F. Lavagnino on Ester e il Re) for Mario Bava's historical adventure films of the late '50s and early '60s.
Disc One is in mono and presents firstly the score for the 1959 telling of the story of 19th-century Chechen chieftain Hadji Murad, Agi Murad il Diavolo Bianco (The White Warrior). The film stars Steve Reeves and sports a symphonic score by Bava favourite Nicolosi and gets off to a good start with a noble, almost religious theme for the chieftain, which ends warmly. A feature of the score is its plentiful action, in which the theme is often turned into a brassy fanfare, accompanied by marching material. There are however quieter moments in the score and "Notturno Romantico" presents some ethereal romance, which subsequently appears in a couple more tracks. "Balletto" features something of a wild ethnic dance, whilst "Danza di Corte" is a much more formal affair. But ultimately it's a score that will be remembered for its action writing.
The second score on the disc, for the biblical tale Ester e il Re (Esther and the King), from 1960, features music again by Nicolosi, but this time in collaboration with Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, who wrote the original score, before Nocolosi composed material for later changes to the film. Therefore much of the lush and exotic music on display here can be credited to Lavagnino. The title theme starts grandly, before seguing into a sweeping and quite lovely theme, which throughout the score is developed romantically for scenes involving Joan Collins, often voiced exotically by flute, though at times allowed to soar on strings. Whilst there is some tension and conflict in the score, it is this romantic material that dominates. A strangely compelling cue however is the ethnic dancer "Balletto nel Tempio," with its somewhat overpowering female vocals.
The second disc features four of the Ester cues in stereo, including the main and end titles, before launching into Nicolosi's stereo score for 1961's Gli Invasori, which stars Cameron Mitchell as an unlikely Viking. The composer's score is very much the darkest offering in this collection, with much drama, tension and conflict throughout. There is however a delicate love theme, largely voiced by solo piano, and some fanfares and timpani-driven march material.
As always, this release is accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the films, together with informative notes by Claudio Fuiano and Tim Lucas.
Visit for details of the label's upcoming releases, all of which I hope will continue to be reviewed here.


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