Latest reviews of new albums:
Il Pentito
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • GDM / 74m

Based on an arresting true story, the Sindona scandal, Il Pentito (released as The Repenter internationally) is a mafia thriller set in Milan and New York. A high-profile banker with connections kills a judge investigating some suspicious activities at his bank, and eventually falls to the FBI despite attempts to kill him before they can get him.

Ennio Morricone scored numerous films along these lines (indeed, this was his third mafia thriller for the director Pasquale Squitieri). While a lot of them follow similar crime-thriller templates (and are often brilliant) you are never quite sure what you are going to get – and Il Pentito is a bit different.

Ennio Morricone

It opens with an exceptional title theme that has always been a favourite. Shot full of melancholy, it is just achingly beautiful – classic Morricone, it is emotional but really quite profoundly sad. It was originally written for Once Upon a Time in America but ultimately not chosen by Sergio Leone for inclusion (and can be heard on the extended version of that film’s soundtrack in demo form).

Another lovely melody comes in the second track, “Messagio”, more romantic this time; and then the more expected sound appears at last in the third, “Evento Finale”, brass clusters ratcheting the tension up to maximum, drum kit providing slightly irregular accompaniment that makes for a rather disconcerting sound.

As he so often did, Morricone uses the organ as a tension-building device in “Retata”, with a little rising three-note figure used as the building block for the whole cue. “Sicilia dei Ricordi Lontani” goes back to a more melodic sound – again it’s hugely sad, this time with a kind of synth flute leading the melody over the strings – a great track.

“Retata Seconda” is an explosive piece of action – frenetic brass, the organ again, it’s another highlight. Morricone hasn’t finished with the amazing themes yet, either – there’s another one to melt the heart in the more traditionally-orchestral “Sicilia”, sweeping and swooning and with a somewhat epic quality as it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

In “Confusi Ricordi” Morricone takes one of his trademark devices (I don’t know how to describe it – a little flourish of tension which seems to fade in and out – it’s heard in a large number of his scores) which was subtly present in the opening theme and places it front and centre, this time with a simple string theme weaving around it.

The nine-minute “Momento Decisivo” (no need for Google translate for that one) does what you just know it’s going to do – it’s tense, it starts ominously, very slowly, and soon you want to hide behind the furniture. The synth effects are dated now to the extent that they take away from the effect Morricone was trying to express, but even so it is a model of unsettling film music (and not so abrasive that you can’t bear to listen to it).

The organ takes on a funereal quality in “Durante l’Omelia”, in which it has centre stage. Then we get a brief reprise of the main theme before the album finishes with “Strano Notturno”, Morricone choosing (as he so often did) to leave a somewhat unresolved tone at the end by closing with a piece of suspense.

Il Pentito has some of the elements you expect from a Morricone crime thriller from 1985 but alongside them you also get some moving melodies, including the absolute belter of a main theme. The original album (and what I’ve reviewed) was 45 minutes, it was released several times on CD before GDM put out an expanded version which added half an hour more. Recommended.

Rating: **** | |

Tags: , ,

  1. Rory (Reply) on Sunday 26 July, 2020 at 20:43

    The electronics remind me more than a little of Goldsmith– not that that’s a bad thing.