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Come un Delfino 2
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • RTI / 2013 / 41m

A 2011 Italian miniseries, Come un Delfino (literally Like a Dolphin) was loosely based on the life of Italian swimmer Domenico Fioravanti, who was forced to retire young in 2004 after being diagnosed with a cardiac hypertrophy.  This second series, again directed by Stefano Reali and starring Raoul Bova, picks up the story.  Ennio Morricone’s beautiful score for the first series was until recently the last of his score’s to receive an album release (though La Migliore Offerta and the latest series of Ultimo were both released early in 2013); oddly billed as Come un Delfino – La Serie (so many people may confuse it with the previous volume), his music for the sequel has been released digitally only, with a terrible cover, by RTI.

As the famous saying goes – you should never judge an Ennio Morricone score by its cover.  There’s something very surprising about this score – Morricone has chosen not to reprise any of the exquisite thematic material he developed for the original miniseries.  Instead, he’s come up with a whole new set of exquisite thematic material.  The album opens with the almost insanely lush “L’estate dei ricordi”, trademark string runs running away under a beautiful horn melody.  Picture a warm Mediterranean evening, the sun going down, a cold Peroni in your hand – well, you don’t need to picture that if you listen to this theme because the music does it all for you.

Ennio Morricone, 2013

Ennio Morricone, 2013

“Isolati” is the second theme, this one full of melancholy, of sadness – yet it still retains a great beauty.  “Sole e sabbia” is highlighted by a wonderful viola solo, then another lovely horn theme.  Things take an unexpected turn in the action track “A piedi nudi sulla sabbia”, a vintage Morricone low-end stabbing piano soon joined by a surprisingly hardcore techno beat and sampled vocals (yes, you read that correctly).  Maybe Morricone will become the first octogenarian to write a nightclub anthem.  He quickly gets back to more familiar territory though, with perhaps the most romantic theme of the score, the gorgeous “D’amore una storia”, summery strings with subtle electric guitar accompaniment in the first and last sections sandwiching what sounds like a romantic update of “Gabriel’s Oboe” in the central bridge.

“L’altra” is a wistful theme – vaguely reminiscent of “All the Friends” from Mission to Mars – there’s a warmth to it, but also a slight feeling of loss.  “I delfini affettuosi” is yet another beautiful, free-flowing piece of romance.  “L’ora e il dopo” has more of an edge to it, strings rising and falling like waves lapping the shoreline but there’s no doubt there’s darkness there.  “Tempesta” takes it further – you wouldn’t need Google to translate the title for you even if it weren’t obvious, because the jabbing piano and piercing brass stings, again with an electronic beat (this time more subtle than before) do indeed create a sonic tempest.  This is not that kind of virtually unlistenable suspense music Morricone sometimes writes – it’s dynamic, modern, exciting, perfectly listenable.  “Catarsi”, the final theme, has a slightly devilish, militaristic air to it, also a great sense of intrigue and mystery.

The balance of the album is made up of alternate versions of a few of the themes, the highlight being the concluding version of “A piedi nudi sulla sabbia”, the oppressive piano and techno replaced here by elegant plucked strings and violin solo – a remarkablly different take on the same melodic content.  Come un Delfino 2 really is some collection of themes – in an era when warm melodies are generally eschewed in film music, here’s the veteran of all veterans providing more in a single score than a lot of the younger generation of film composers have managed in their careers to date.  But that’s Morricone – continuing to dazzle at the age of 84, continuing to write remarkably impressive music and this score even managing a surprise or two.  It’s not as sparklingly creative as La Migliore Offerta a couple of months ago – it’s more like a visit from an old friend, this one.  But it’s a welcome visit indeed.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. dominique (Reply) on Saturday 18 May, 2013 at 16:57

    thanks for this nice review, james!

  2. Mathias (Reply) on Saturday 18 May, 2013 at 17:03

    Thank you James! A great review!

  3. Gorbadoc (Reply) on Saturday 18 May, 2013 at 20:13

    Wonderful review indeed! I am currently very busy checking Morricone’s very early scores, and one would easily forget the man is still creating great output to this day!

    Therefore, thanks for drawing my attention to his latest score (although I had already catched a glimpse of this title a few days ago, admittedly without further looking into it).

  4. Stephen Ottley (Reply) on Wednesday 9 July, 2014 at 10:12

    Great review James and, of course, a great score by Il Maestro. A third series has been announced, despite poor viewing figures for this series. Let’s hope they employ the same composer, purely for consistency.

  5. Marco (Reply) on Saturday 11 February, 2017 at 18:19

    Yes, I do like “A piedi nudi sulla sabbia”. It reminds me a little bit of “Flauto, violino e orchestra” from “La sconosciuta”. Thank you for your review.