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Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Nel Segno Di Roma/Ponzio Pilato/Il Colosso Di Roma Muzio Scevola
Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Digitmovies CDDM125 (Italy)
33 Tracks 73:49 mins

Yet another release from Digitmovies in its series of scores for the Italian Peplum genre teams three scores by another giant of Italian film composers, Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. Presented here are first time CD releases of his music for 1959's Sign of the Gladiator (to use its English-language title), 1962's Pontius Pilate, and a suite for 1964's Hero of Rome, which represents, at just under four-and-a-half minutes, all the original music the composer wrote for that film, the remainder having been drawn from the C.A.M. library.
The lion's share of this disc (24 tracks) is devoted to the complete score of Nel Segno Di Roma, and opens with the composer's splendid fanfarish choral main theme "Il Simbolo Della Gloria," which continues instrumentally in track 2, and doubles up in its representation of the glory of Rome and as a call to arms for the gladiators. A low, almost mournful choral opens "Marco Valerio Schiavo," and the track remains subdued until its rather mystical ending. A kind of ethnic dance sets the scene for "Il Mercato di Palmira," and then comes the largely suspenseful "Incontro nel Sacro Tempio," which ends on a light, shimmering note. The first brassy action music errupts in "Incendio e Liberazione dei Prigionieri," though the cue ends on a delicate, exotic note, more of which appears in the following cue, alongside brassy fanfares and more supsenseful music, before taking a dark and tragic turn. A delicate woodwind solo leads to the romantic strings and harp of "Giulliano e Betsabea." Yet more impressive brassy fanfares feature in "Preparativi di Battaglia," with the only stereo track following, the ethnic dance music of "Banchetto e Danza a Corte," which continues into the next track.
After a dramatic opening, "Rapimento di Betsabea e Scene D'Amour" reveals the first strains of the score's love theme, which is only fully developed in the subsequent "Zenobia e Marco Valeria," and appears further in "Messagio Secreto e Incontro D'Amore." This is followed by an impressive processional in "Agguato Notturno e Esercito in Marcia," and then a mix of suspense, mysticism, tragedy, and ultimately romance, in "Liberazione di Betsabea." Three action cues follow in quick succession, starting with the lengthy "Scontro Sanguinario a Palazzo," the brassy fanfares signify "Vittoria dell'Escercito Romano." This is followed by the tragic beauty of "Disperazione di Zenobia," with yet another brassy fanfare leading us into the finale, where a last reprise of the love theme ends in a soaring choral conclusion.
Tracks 25-32 represent the only surviving music from Ponzio Pilate, commencing with the impressive worshipful choral "Osanna Pasquale," and continuing in the all-conquering Roman march "Le Legion di Pilato." Next comes Lavagnino's ethereal theme for Jesus in "Il Suo Nome e Gesu di Nazareth," followed by the brutal, tragic action of "Dopo il Massacro." The delicate, flute-lead "Idillio Pastorale" follows, and then a variation on the Jesus theme in "Il Messia." Another version of the opening choral is presented in "Osanna Pasquale (reprisa)," with the final cue of this lamentably short representation of what is obviously a very fine score indeed, being the sad solo violin and strings lament of "La Guistizia Divina."
The suite from Il Colosso di Roma" is purely an excercise in suspense, and has little to offer.
As always, a colourful booklet accompanies the disc, with Claudio Fuiano's introductory notes, and stills and artwork from the films. Check out all the Digitmovies catalogue by visiting the website at

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