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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Film Music by Ennio Morricone

14 Tracks (Playing Time = 53:33)



Album Produced by James Fitzpatrick. Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Paul Bateman, Derek Wadsworth, Nic Raine, and James Fitzpatrick. Also featuring the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Mastered by Rick Clark. Release co-ordination: David Stoner and Peter Compton. Artwork and Design: Damien Doherty.

Silva Screen Records SILCD 6.

Rating: ***1/2


1. The Man With The Harmonica from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (3:52)
2. THE UNTOUCHABLES - Main Theme (2:22)
3. A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS - Main Theme (3:28)
4. FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE - Main Theme (3:33)*
5. THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY - Main Theme (2:54)*.
6. DUCK, YOU SUCKER (4:07)*
7. Jill's Theme from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (6:06)
8. THE FIVE MAN ARMY - Main Theme (2:48)
9. Deborah's Theme from ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (4:44)
10. THE SICILLAN CLAN - Main Theme (4:06)
11. Chi Mai from MADDELENA (5:37)
12. Regan's Theme from EXORIST II: THE HERETIC (2:37)
13. CINEMA PARADISO - Theme (3:32)
14. On Earth As It Is In Heaven from THE MISSION (3:32)*

* = Crouch End Festival Chorus

Like the similar basic compilation of the Film Music by John Barry, this Silva album is a good sampling of music by Ennio Morricone. If Barry is today's best known English film composer, then Morricone is surely the best known film composer from Italy. Of the two Morricone is by far the more prolific with hundreds of film scores so far.

This compilation features some of Morricone's most familiar themes. These include the main themes from the so-called Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965), THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966), and "The Man With The Harmonica" from Leone's major western epic, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968).

Like John Barry's James Bond scores, Morricone will probably remain best known for his Spaghetti Western scores and they are certainly unusual, especially THE GOOD, THE BAD , AND THE UGLY.

But I actually prefer some of his other scores, like the forceful Main Theme from THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987, arranged and orchestrated by Henry Mancini) and the beautiful "Deborah's Theme" from ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984, once again arranged by Mancini), with a very fine female soloist unfortunately not identifed.

There are also lesser known scores that are worth a listen, like the Main Theme from THE FIVE MAN ARMY (1969, arranged and orchestrated by Gareth Williams), the seductive Main Theme from THE SICILIAN CLAN (1969, arranged and orchestrated by Nic Raine), and the rhythmic "Chi Mai" from MADDALENA (1971, arranged and orchestrated by Mike Townend). These are all welcome additions to this album.

And no Morricone sampler would be complete without themes from CINEMA PARADISO (1989, arranged and orchestrated by Rachel Berlin) and THE MISSION (1986, arranged and orchestrated by Mark McGurty), which are the last two tracks of this CD collection.

For me, THE MISSION is Morricone's best score thus far and "On Earth As It Is In heaven" is one of his best themes. On this Silva compilation the performance isn't quite up to the level of the original soundtrack performance but it does convey the excitement of this highly charged brilliant theme.

The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra under four different highly skilled conductors manages to perform admirably and does justice to Morricone's music. Likewise the Crouch End Festival Chorus provides fine choral support.

Even if you have many of the Morricone soundtracks this is still a worthwhile sampler of his melodic brilliance from films made between the 1960s and 1980s.

A very good compilation.


--Roger L. Hall, 8 July 2006

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