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Il Principe del Deserto
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • GDM / 2012 / 77:14

A 1989 miniseries with a decent cast (Rutger Hauer, Omar Sharif, Elliot Gould), Il Principe del Deserto was an action/adventure in which a group of mercenaries tries to rescue a boy kidnapped from his mother by his father.  It was written by Sergio Donati amongst others and directed by Duccio Tessari.
Ennio Morricone’s score is highlighted by two outstanding romantic themes, “Il figlio e la nostalgia” and “Il principe del deserto”.  They both employ Edda dell’Orso-style wordless vocals (performed in this case by Pina Magri); the former is a kind of instrumental song form (for orchestra), the latter a grander affair with added choir that sounds a little like certain parts of the more melodic moments of the composer’s magnificent Secret of the Sahara.  Its solo violin arrangement in “Attimi d’amore” is spectacularly beautiful.  “Dissolvenze desertiche” presents another fine variation on the theme, Morricone adding in a loneliness and longing with a pan flute solo.  Less immediately striking but on closer examination also very beautiful is the standalone “Morte di Mulay”, a reflective piece highlighting a lovely oboe solo.

Another standalone piece which is really wonderful is the fantastically-named “Ninna nanna per un’insonnia”, which is like a more pleasant variation on the theme from Desert of the Tartars.  There’s some fine action material too – “Il Nonno” features some dynamic brass material and is a really thrilling piece.  “Arrivano” features a wonderfully triumphant brassy fanfare which appears out of nowhere but is a little gem of a track in the middle of the album.  “Insolita rincorsa” is a really vibrant piece of action, more of that trademark layered Morricone brass proving as effective as ever.  Slightly less impressive (on CD at least) are some of the suspense cues, which make rather difficult listening, but there are some fine ones too – “Preparazione alla corsa” opens with a plaintive melody before some strident string and brass work make an uncomfortably – impressively – tense closing half to the cue.  A 46-minute album was released at the time the show was first aired (1991); more recently, there have been two expanded editions from GDM, most recently this album which features the 77-minute complete score, remastered.  To tell the truth, most of the extra half-hour of music is made up of variations on what was already there, but it’s easily reprogrammed to give the original album sequence (which is a much stronger listen).  Morricone visited very similar musical territory a few years later in I Guardiani del Cielo, which is a bit better, but this still has an awful lot to offer.

Rating: **** |

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  1. Gorbadoc (Reply) on Tuesday 15 January, 2013 at 09:15

    I really like the huge amount of Morricone reviews you’re providing (I also consider him the best film composer of all time), it makes me discover scores I hadn’t heard of before (like this one, I’m excited to get to know it!). Keep up the excellent work!

  2. Maarten (Reply) on Tuesday 15 January, 2013 at 21:43

    Gorbadoc: That’s the same for me! I have about 20+ Morricone CD’s, in my collection, so there remains a lot waiting to be discovered for me. I never heard of this series or music. After reading this great review, I immediately bought the CD on i-Tunes. I’m sure I won’t regret it!