Film Music Review
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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)





  Special Merit 


Music composed by Ennio Morricone.

23 Tracks (Playing Time = 100 minutes)

PCM Stereo/ DD 5.1/ DTS 5.1

The Munchner Rundfunkorchestrer and Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by Ennio Morricone. Recorded live at the Philharmonia im Gasteig, Munich, 20 October 2004.


Produced by Helmut Pauli. Directed by Giovanni Morricone.

EUROARTS DVD 2054698 (2006)

Rating: **** (Superlative)


1. Opening (0:33)
Life and Legend
2. THE UNTOUCHABLES --Theme (2:21)
3. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA -- Deborah's Theme, Poverty, Main Theme (7:31)
4. THE LEGEND OF 1900 -- Theme (1:27)
5. CINEMA PARADISO -- Theme (2:18)
Single Pages
6. H2S -- Theme (2:33)
7. THE SICILIAN CLAN -- Theme (3:55)
8. LOVE CIRCLE -- Disons, un soir a diner (4:07)
9. LOVE CIRCLE -- Uno che grida amore (5:00)
10. MADDALENA -- Come Maddalena (4:08)
Sergio Leone: Modern Film Legends
11. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA -- Cockey's Song (4:08)
12. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY -- Theme (3:03)
13. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST -- Theme (3:02)
14. A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE -- Theme (3:09)
15. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY -- Ecstasy of Gold (4:10)
[Intermission - no break]
16. CANONE INVERSO (Making Love) -- Violin Concerto (14:57)
Socially Committed Cinema
18. ACCORDING TO PEREIRA -- Theme (3:18)
20. CASUALTIES OF WAR -- Outrages (8:56)
Tragic, Lyrical, Epic...
21. THE DESERT OF THE TARTARS -- Theme (3:36)
22. THE MISSION -- Suite (9:41)
23. Credits (0:27)

For Morricone fans or film music lovers in general this is a wonderful viewing experience.

It is also one of the few DVDs available with a composer conducting his film music in concert.

And it is one of the most thrilling film music concerts you are likely to find anywhere, even though arranged in a series of suites from many of his most popular scores.

That's because Morricone's music is just so incredibly memorable and he builds his themes from simple statement to full blown orchestral majesty. Sometimes his gorgeous melodies can move you to tears, and other times his energetic vocal and instrumental combinations can make you smile with delight. No other living film composer has the ability to do this so skillfully, except John Williams. There are samples of his music on a recent CD -- Film Music by Ennio Morricone.

This DVD seems to provide Morricone's own personal choices and they are all good ones. In his early film scores, like THE SICILIAN CLAN (1969), his technique was to begin with the main theme simply stated and then overlap instrumental parts. Morricone was a master at this technique as can be heard and seen on this DVD.

Naturally there are the most popular themes, such as THE UNTOUCHABLES (1986 -- a great opener), the beautiful CINEMA PARADISO (1989), and the Sergio Leone films. But, for me, the most surprising ones were the lesser known themes. They include the fabulous H2S (1968) Main Theme, starting with a minimalist piano and gradually adding instruments. The two themes from LOVE CIRCLE (1969) are also welcome additions. Then there is the theme from MADDELENA (1971) -- what a thrilling audio experience this is!

My two favorite Morricone scores are ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984) and THE MISSION (1986). Both are given ample time on this DVD. Track 2 has three examples from ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, and track 11 has the gorgeous "Cockey's Song" (with Ulrich Herkenhoff beautifully playing panpipes). THE MISSION is used for the Finale and it isn't quite as convincingly performed as on the soundtrack CD. Yet it provides an ideal closer and still makes me wonder why this film score didn't win a whole bunch of awards. The vocal soloist is soprano, Susanna Rigacci, who adds her enormnous voice register to several film tracks (tracks 13 - 15). Unfortunately, her voice is lost somewhat when the wordless chorus comes in with the full orchestra on the dynamic "Ecstasy of Gold", but she is still an outstanding singer. Then there is violinist Henry Raudales, who is the soloist on CANONE INVERSO (track 16). At nearly 15 minutes in length the full title is "Concerto Romantico Interrotto" for solo violin, piano and orchestra and it's a damn good one too, more of a classical piece than Morricone's other themes. The other major soloist is Gilda Butta, who provides highly stylized and strong piano solos. But a loud boo for her sleazy looking dress. What was she thinking? Everything else looks classy in their concert dress. She looks like she belongs at a rock concert. At least her piano playing redeems her poor taste in clothes.

Both the orchestra and chorus perform admirably, under Morricone's serious, no-nonsense conducting.

In his excellent DVD notes, Matthais Keller calls Morricone, "The Picasso of Film Music." Maybe a better analogy would be to another 20th century artist, Amedeo Modigliani, a talented Italian artist who died at a young age but who created art works of great feeling. That depth of feeling is what makes Morricone's music so memorable. He covers all elements of emotion, from melancholy to exuberance, from quiet passages to energetic power themes.

Here you get over an hour and an half of Morricone's great film music from the 1960s to 1990s. The sound and picture quality on the DVD are both excellent and the concert looks superb on HDTV.

I would highly recommended this DVD for those who appreciate the magnificent film music of this Italian master. It's Morricone at his best!

Now, when will we get similar film music concerts on DVD? Another recent release is an 1992 concert of film music by Maurice Jarre. But there needs to be others too. These DVDs are an ideal way of hearing the music and watching it being performed away from the film.

--Roger L. Halll , 26 October 2006

Comments regardig this review can be sent to: Film Music Review

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