- Composed by Ennio Morricone
- GDM / 2014 / 33m
A 1979 film directed by Stefano Rolla, Professione Figlio (known in America and the UK as Footloose – a few years before another rather more successful film was released under that name) is about a teenager who goes round trying to be adopted, lives with and sponges off a couple for a while then fakes his own death and moves on to his next victims. All his chickens come home to roost when he does it once too often and all his previous “parents” track him down. It stars Ronni Valente as the boy in question and Max von Sydow – without a hat – as his “father”.
Ennio Morricone scored the film, as he did most films in 1979 (eleven according to IMDB, and they are missing loads of titles from his filmography so there may well have been more). Just over twenty minutes of his music were previously issued by CAM in 1992 on an album which also included selections from Banda JS and Le Monachine; this 2014 release from GDM adds the remaining ten minutes of music and offers a good remaster.
One of the great things about Morricone is that you never know what you’re going to get. (OK, sometimes it’s not such a great thing; but it usually is.) You take a look at the CD cover, read the plot description, and form an idea of what the music will be – probably some dissonant suspense textures, maybe a gritty main theme. Then you start playing the CD and are greeted by the most unexpected of pieces, “Professione flauto”, an extremely jolly, chirpy and to an extent silly piece of instrumental pop (kind of like the main theme from My Name Is Nobody). Talk about coming out of left field. It’s great fun… and the rest of the score is nothing like it… and also nothing like what you may be expecting.
The film is set largely in Venice and Morricone drew inspiration from there, writing some remarkably florid, expressive music representing one of the most beautiful of cities. “Alba prima” features a glorious flute theme with piano and string accompaniment, a vintage Morricone melody that tugs at the heartstrings with not inconsiderable force. It is a stunning, stunning piece of music, so beautiful and so heartfelt and moving.
In “Professione” comes another theme – a duet between violin and flute which is initially quite playful but the listener quickly becomes enveloped into a kind of romantic cocoon as more strings and later harpsichord are added and the composer once more aims straight for the heart. On the one hand it is so simple, on the other so elegant in its development it almost defies belief. “Alba seconda” is like a more intense, more dramatic and slightly darker reflection on the earlier “Alba prima”.
“Trio per l’Alea” begins with a gorgeous impressionistic flute cadenza before a battle takes over between light and dark, the latter represented by some fairly quiet dissonance; as far as battles go it is rather gentle I suppose but the emotional struggle being represented is done with extraordinary skill by the composer. But soon ravishing beauty is back in no uncertain terms in “Professione figlio”, reprising the “Alba prima” theme and taking it to even more soaring heights. The original album programme concludes with “Dolcissima”, in which the composer introduces yet another truly exquisite melody – he has forever seemed able to conjure them up seemingly at will – and once again it is just so moving. The remainder of the disc – the previously-unreleased material – offers variations on all the main themes, each of which is worthwhile in its own way.
Being an Ennio Morricone fan is just so rewarding. It’s expensive, certainly; I’ve had to add an annex to the house in order to keep my collection – and the astonishing thing is that the continual array of re-releases and expansions throws up genuine masterpieces I hadn’t even heard of before, let alone heard. Professione Figlio is one such masterpiece. If you take a punt on my recommendation I expect you to listen to the opening track and wonder if I’ve lost my mind; perhaps I have, but keep listening and you’ll see what’s got me so excited. This is music of the most exquisite beauty, the product of a genius.