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Friday, May 07, 2010


Music by Ennio Morricone
Silva Screen Records SILCD1322
19 Tracks 54:06 mins

Legendary composer Ennio Morricone has collaborated with director Giuseppe Tornatore eight times, most famously on the brilliant Cinema Paradiso in 1989. The director's latest work, Baaria, like that classic, is autobiographical but, unlike his magical, romantic score for same, Morricone's work on Baaria is described in the publicity as "intense."
I don't totally go along with this, as the opening and longest track on the album, "Sinfonia per Baaria," actually starts out broad and romantic, but the mood very quickly changes, with wailing ethnic male vocals and instruments taking control, but then a sudden inspirational orchestral rush returns us to the opening romantic theme, which positively soars for a while, before narration, dialogue and effects interrupt and continue to the end, totally spoiling the track. When will record producers and labels realise that when one buys a soundtrack, one wants the music alone, free of such irritating interruptions. Thank goodness the rousing tarantella-like "Ribellione" follows, quickly taking one's mind off what has gone before. By contrast, "Baaria" is a lovely piece of nostalgia, and "Il Corpo e la Terra" whilst a little subdued, is a nevertheless appealing, acoustic guitar-propelled piece. The brief but strident "Lo Zoppo" follows, and then "Brindisi" presents another charming strings-lead theme.
For those of you familiar with Morricone's early work, the maestro next revisits his quirky comedy writing for "Un Gioco Sereno," with familiar trademarks abounding. After this light-hearted interlude, the composer opens "La Visita" with a reprise of his "Ribellione" theme, before ending on a poignant note. "Un Fiscaletto" further develops the same theme, before turning suddenly dark. "Racconto di una Vita" brings respite in the form of another attractive melody, though with slightly discordant underpinnings in characteristic Morricone fashion.
"La Terra" is a tragic affair, the mood continuing into the increasingly dramatic "Verdiano. A band version of "Baaria" follows, presumably presented as source music in the film, with further band tracks, "Oltre" and the funereal "Prima e Dopo," following.
"I Mostri" is a pretty downbeat, tragic affair, and is followed by the folksy "L'Allegro Virtuosi di Zampogna," a solo for Italian double chantered pipes. To keep with the regional feel, mandolins follow up with "A Passeggio nel Corso," which develops a tango-like feel as it continues, leading us to the album's final track, "Il Vento, Il Mare, I Silenzi," which leaves us on a reflective note.
Yes, the score does have dramatic intensity, but it also has some very attractive moments. It's no Cinema Paradiso, but it's far from the worst Morricone score I've ever heard and, in fact, I caught myself thinking, on more than one occasion that, in these days where so many film scores sound the same, what a breath of fresh air this album is. All I can say is make the most of it, folks, as these great masters of their art are getting fewer and fewer on the ground as the years take them one by one, and any new Morricone score is to be regarded as a treasure.
The album is not released until the 31st of this month, and samples are yet to make the website but, If you're not sure of this one, you had probably best wait around until they appear at www.silvascreenmusic, before ordering yourself a copy of the CD, or downloading it, if that is your preference.


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