Film Music Review
The Sammy awards








A TIME TO DIE (1983)

Music composed and conducted by Ennio Morricone.

11 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 31:48)


Executive Album Producers for BSX Records: Ford A. Thaxton and Mark Banning. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson. CD art direction: Mark Banning. Original LP release produced by Cerberus Records. .

BSX Records CD BSXCD 8836

Limited edition of 1500 copies.

Rating: ***1/2


Anyone familiar with the music of Ennio Morricone will recognize his music fingerprints in A TIME TO DIE. The World War II story by THE GODFATHER author, Mario Puzo, had an A list of fine actors: Rex Harrison, Rod Taylor, Edward Albert Jr. amd Raf Vallone. Unfortunately, the film is rather dull and lackluster. But Morricone's score brings it to life with
a great deal of tension and his usual interesting instrumental colorations.

As the CD notes by an unidentified author state: "For Morricone fans, A TIME TO DIE contains many examples of what makes his work an addictive listening experience; variations of a brooding and haunting orchestral theme, quirky and hypnotic tension cues,
and even a twanging of a jaw harp in one case." The track featuring the "jaw harp" is track 6, "Sicilian Tension" (1:55).

Reflecting Morricone's classical music training, the beginning of the main theme (3:53) has a similar pattern to J.S. Bach's First Prelude in Book I of his Well Tempered Clavier. Morricone continues this classical tradition with the "brooding theme" titled "Recitation On An Ancient Harpsichord" (track 2, 2:21), featuring a favorite Morricone instrument, the solo oboe playing solemnly against the harpsichord and slow somber chords in the strings. This is offset by the harsh, pulsating theme heard on track 4, "Invasion" (3:53), with its relentess march played by the strings and woodwinds. Quite a menacing cue.

The following track, "The Girl From Munich,"(3:53) has one of Morricone's beautiful love themes played by woodwinds, strings and piano in their higher registers. This theme is heard again in a fuller treatment on track 7 (5:42), featuring a solo muted trumpet and strings.

At a little over thirty minutes, this is a short soundtrack. Yet it is filled with Morricone's melodic Italian spices using dissonant combinations (as in track 9, "Seven Graves for Rogan") mixed together with the more conventional romantic themes as heard in "The Girl From Munich" and the final track, "Wedding Feast In The Fields" (2:16), with a reprise of the opening main theme.

As he has done with so many soundtracks before, James Nelson does an admirable job of digitally mastering and editing this recording, taken from a previous Cerberus LP.
The sound is very clean and distinct.

For the many Morricone admirers this is a most welcome release.


--Roger L. Hall, 5 April 2008

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