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Il Prato
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • CAM / 31m

Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1979’s Il Prato (which disappointingly means “The Meadow” and not “The Prat”) is about a love triangle that develops after three young Italians try to break away from what they view as an unfair society and set up a new utopia.

Ennio Morricone had previously written a wonderful score for the brothers’ Allonsanfan (a score which includes one of the greatest cues of his career)… and precisely the same description could be applied to Il Prato, even though it is completely different.

Ennio Morricone

In this case “one of the greatest cues of his career” is the score’s main title theme, an astonishingly beautiful piece with a delicate piccolo flute solo playing a magically fluid melody over strings and guitar. The resplendent A-section is repeated twice before the slightly edgier B-section, then two more presentations of the A-section. While the central solo remains largely unchanged between the variations within the piece, it’s fascinating how Morricone builds up the orchestration and then takes it down again. It is just magnificent – full of the composer’s trademark melancholy, just heartbreakingly beautiful.

The classical “Tremo perché ti amo” is a lovely secondary love theme, which suffers slightly from following the sumptuous opening but on its own terms is also really impressive. “La rabbia” takes the B-section of the main theme and bases the cue around it, with dramatic percussive accompaniment (not entirely dissimilar to the famous “Rabbia e tarantella” from Allonsanfan in fact, though in this case the impressionistic flute solo over the top turns it into something different).

“Troppo luce, troppa ombra” takes a fragment of the main theme and builds it into something which clearly conveys emotional turmoil before just a little half-step harmonic leap at the end leaves us on a positive note. A choir appears in the brief “La finestra”, which plays as a kind of heavenly interlude. The standalone “La grande zampogna e il piccolo flauto” is a dramatic piece of what could be source festival music (but knowing Morricone probably isn’t).

Scattered amongst the pieces I’ve highlighted are some variations on them – the main theme in particular gets numerous versions, many of them very different (it sounds quite mournful for the concluding “L’Arno”). The readily-available album of this score – and the one I’ve got – is the 31-minute CAM album (as produced by Morricone at the time of the film) though there was an extended version briefly available from GDM. Sadly the recording quality leaves something to be desired, which is the only stain on an otherwise-impeccable masterpiece – a lesser-known but genuinely essential component of any Morricone collection.

Rating: ***** | |

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  1. dominique (Reply) on Saturday 25 July, 2020 at 20:05

    thank you, james for this wonderful review of this lesser-known and amazing score by morricone!

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 26 July, 2020 at 13:55

    Thank you for reading! (Not many people are…) There is so much treasure in Morricone’s output, and much of the very best of it is very little known outside his most devoted fans. I hope a few people can discover some of it.

  3. Mathias (Reply) on Sunday 26 July, 2020 at 17:42

    Thank you very much James!

    I am a faithful reader. I especially like to read your Morricone reviews. It hurts me to know that you won´t be able to review new music from this master. There are a lot of older Morricone reviews from you, that seem to have disappeared. What have happened to them?

    Il Prato is a very beautiful score and the feeling I got from it is the same as from Marco Polo.

    • James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 26 July, 2020 at 20:44

      Thanks! I am not sure about old reviews disappearing. I think I lost some of them about 15 years ago in a server migration but that’s a long time ago now.

  4. dominique (Reply) on Sunday 26 July, 2020 at 21:22

    i‘m visiting daily your website and enjoying and appreciating your reviews for several years, james! thank you so much for sharing your impressions of movie scores, especially the ones by morricone, whom i love so much, his output and the quality is so immense!

    did you ever listen to „gli occhiali d‘oro“ – „the gold rimmed glasses“? the movie was on youtube to watch for free months ago, it disappeared sadly! i watched it in cinema in 1987 and was very touched by the story and the score by the great maestro!
    give it a try, it‘s very much worth it!
    greets and my best wishes to you and your beloved ones.

  5. Andre>>Cape Town (Reply) on Monday 27 July, 2020 at 02:15

    Computers have ‘minds’ of their own….lots of valuable material disappears, in spite of one taking the usual precautions. So, James, I hope you’ll consider the old-fashioned (but reliable) BOOK-format and print the best of HORNER, GOLDSMITH, MORRICONE, JARRE, DELERUE, (JOHN) WILLIAMS and other ‘Silver Age’ maestros—They emerged in the late 1960s and started establishing their genius in the 1970s and (the few that survived) into the 21st Century. Their scores remain some of the greatest ever written for Cinema and your insightful reviews must be preserved as homage to yours and their talents.

  6. Andre>>Cape Town (Reply) on Monday 27 July, 2020 at 02:29

    P.S…..The Book-printed reviews could also include some of the comments made by MOVIE-WAVE READERS—some are amusingly feisty, while others introduce interesting viewpoints that support your analysis.