Latest reviews of new albums:
Griminelli Plays Morricone
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone

Flute virtuoso Andrea Griminelli has been one of Italy’s classical music superstars for decades now. Amongst his prior performances was the première of Ennio Morricone’s flute concerto a number of years ago, and now he has released a tribute album to the legendary film composer. It is very much a “crossover” album – not just are there (surprisingly, and perhaps somewhat disappointingly) a few songs here, even some of the straight orchestral pieces have a bit of a pop instrumental feel to them (but by no means all). The song opens with Sting singing “I Sleep Beneath the Stars”, yet another version of Once Upon a Time in the West with lyrics added; then we have Zucchero singing “Lost Boys Calling” from La Leggenda dell Pianista sull’Oceano, which I have to say I prefer to the original performance by Roger Waters on the soundtrack album. Even so – I’m not sure those two tracks are going to set anyone’s world alight (and they aren’t really showcases for Griminelli, either). After that however, things get much better.

The beautiful “Gabriel’s Oboe” – heard here, of course, sans oboe – gets an arrangement much closer to its original than is usually heard in concerts etc, complete with harpsichord and the opening drums; then from The Mission comes “Vita Nostra”, complete with choir – very rare to hear a new recording of this rather than the more famous “On Earth as it is in Heaven” version of the same theme, and it’s arranged and performed really well (even though it feels a little odd hearing it, since at its heart is the same theme as the previous track). My comments about songs don’t apply to “Se Telefonando”, which can never be recorded often enough; this version, performed by the curiously-named Nek, is brilliant (and very different from any other one I’ve heard); and also exempt from any criticism is a sublime, respectful version of the love theme from Cinema Paradiso sung gloriously by soprano Aida Garifullina. Absolutely my favourite track is “Playing Love” from La Leggenda dell Pianista, basically an instrmental version of the song we’ve already heard, but it’s just gorgeous in this form, with a sublime duet between Griminelli and the distinctive trumpet sound of Chris Botti. The most traditional “classical” style comes in a good, lengthy suite from Once Upon a Time in America, the album’s most left-field inclusion, the love theme from Musashi and best of all, a gorgeous rendition of the theme from Per Le Antiche Scale; but there are also valiant attempts at themes from all five Leone westerns, some of which work better than others but you can’t fault the trying – these are not the usual watered-down “symphonic” versions of the pieces – and “Chi Mai” (which in truth seems to go on a bit). All in all this is a very fine album which I should imagine most Morricone fans would love.

Rating: **** | |

Tags: ,

  1. Benjamin Stock (Reply) on Monday 31 January, 2022 at 00:23

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Morricone. But NWH review, where art thou?

  2. dominique (Reply) on Monday 31 January, 2022 at 15:00

    thank you james for your great morricone reviews, i appreciate it very much! and i´m with you, this one is really a very nice album, it just makes me feel good when i´m listening to it!