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La Gabbia
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Decca / 61m

A 1985 erotic drama, La Gabbia (literally “The Cage” but it was released as The Trap internationally) is about an American businessman who finds himself in a love triangle in Italy after his girlfriend goes off on holiday. The other two sides of the triangle are mother and daughter. Hmm… Ennio Morricone’s jazz fusion score is a fine example of one of the numerous styles he used to score such films, intense and flavoured and with some very interesting instrumental touches. For the opening piece the focus is on electric bass, percussion and stabbing strings, with an occasional two-note blast from the brass that for all the world sounds like Neal Hefti’s Batman theme. It’s very stylish and effective, even if it lacks that core melodic hook that tends to set the best of these things apart. The style continues into the second piece, “Incatenato”, but here there is some terrific piano writing and a flavoursome flugelhorn solo played by regular Morricone collaborator Oscar Valdambrini.

The bizarre third piece, “Provocazione”, is like circus organ music before the moody main theme is heard for the first time in a more traditional orchestral setting in its second half. “Cadenze” is a low-key piece of suspense music, beautifully atmospheric and with a real film noir sound to it, then the theme is back in “Laura” (named, as often with Morricone, for the actor Laura Antonelli rather than her character Marie). It starts off as a rather awkward-sounding arrangement with a real edge to it before itself taking on that noirish sound from the smoky strings. A Morricone trademark arrives in “Prigioniero” with a jumpy piano figure that fades in and out (as heard in so many of his drama/suspense scores), the flugelhorn providing some moments of flair on top. In “Passato presente” the score gets closest to having a genuinely romantic side – it’s still not overt, but there’s undoubtedly something there in the violin solos. “Solo” lives up to its name – the piano offering a gentle version of the main theme – before “Improviso”, a moody piece for bass flute to close the original album’s programme. La Gabbia is a monothematic score, with the variations being genuinely very different from each other – it’s hugely effective, but it’s a dark score and so not the most pleasant listening experience. This new release – one of the first to come from CAM’s new relationship with Decca, seeing many scores from Morricone’s back catalogue being made available as downloads – greatly expands upon previous releases, though as is not unusual most of the new material is pretty close to what was already there.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. Elfenthalsmith (Reply) on Monday 4 January, 2021 at 09:52

    The B-A-C-H main theme is lifted note for note from 1981’s Le Professionnel, in which is was admittedly only very fleetingly used by the director. It’s great to hear it explored fully here. This is one of my all-time favorite Morricone scores.