Latest reviews of new albums:
Ennio Morricone: Piano Music
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone

The acclaimed pianist Roberto Prosseda became one of numerous artists to record tributes to the great Ennio Morricone following his death in 2020. This solo piano album presents some of the composer’s “absolute music” (as he always called it) alongside piano transcriptions of various film themes. While it is not the first album to do that mix, I believe it may well be the first to do so in quite this way, with the various classical works alternating with the film themes in an attempt to present a kind of unified musical voice of the composer. In truth much of his concert music was not at all like his film music – he got to give us all those great melodies in the latter and saw the former as a far more serious pursuit, with much of it not being for the faint-hearted. However, the selections chosen by Prosseda are cleverly interlinked with the more familiar film themes and produce a quite delightful album.

All of the piano transcriptions of the film themes were done by Morricone himself over the decades. The first is the gloriously romantic La Leggenda del Pianista sull’Oceano, perhaps the most enduring piece the composer wrote in his later years; other highlights include a wonderfully playful take on Indagine su un Cittadino al di Sopra di Ogni Sospetto (though it doesn’t quite get to the brilliance of a performance of it by Gilda Butta on an earlier album, for my money), the gorgeous Le due Stagione della Vita (which doesn’t get nearly enough attention for my money) and one I hadn’t ever heard before, Il Potere Degli Angeli, which is everything its title makes you hope it might be, an exquisite piece. The absolute music represented is “Invenzione, canone e ricercare” (written as long ago as 1956), the highlight of which is for me the grandly dramatic final part; “Quattro studi” (1983), four fairly short pieces plus a coda which are generally quite stark and cold; the entertainingly jazzy “Rag in Frantumi” (1987); and the substantial, ten-minute “Quinto studio (catalogo)” (2000) which is enough to try this pleb’s patience. Being a pleb, I will always favour the exquisitely melodic film music selections, but I do feel my brain getting a little larger while listening to the rest. It goes without saying that Prosseda’s playing is flawless – he brings such energy and so many colours to these pieces. Morricone’s serious music was precisely that – and here is a great taster of it, set alongside some chunky morsels of film music to keep the masses (like me) happy.

Rating: **** | |

Tags: ,

  1. dominique (Reply) on Sunday 27 March, 2022 at 15:12

    just sitting on the terrace in the sun and listening to this great and colourful album…what a nice treat!