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Questa Specie d’Amore
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Verita Note / 2007 / 41m

A 1972 drama, Questa Specie d’Amore (This Kind of Love) was directed by Alberto Bevilacqua based on his own novel.  It had a great cast including Jean Seberg, Ugo Tognazzi and Fernando Rey and won the David di Donatello for Best Film, but doesn’t seem to be particularly well-regarded (not surprisingly, I haven’t seen it).  Wikipedia (my source for all knowledge) describes it as a romantic comedy, which I suspect is entirely false – the plot seems to centre around a son desperate to avoid the miserable life of his extreme left-wing father by trying to avoid all feelings and compassion.

That doesn’t sound particularly cheerful… but take a listen to Ennio Morricone’s sumptuous score and you can’t imagine a place where you’re not in touch with your feelings.  And seriously, that is an instruction – take a listen to Ennio Morricone’s sumptuous score.  Even within the peerless bounds of his oeuvre, it is a joy to behold – a ravishing, extraordinarily romantic and bountiful feast which is so stunningly moving it almost defies belief.

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone

The main theme starts things very much as they go on.  Slightly dreamy trademark Morricone strings wash over a piano phrase, joined by an oboe solo as the piece is introduced – and then the strings soar into the emotion-laden main theme itself, an exquisite melody which tugs at the heartstrings from the off and just doesn’t let go.  Morricone has written a few of those in his time (including one of his best themes of all for the same director’s previous film, La Califfa) and this is right up there with the best.

The extraordinary thing is that he doesn’t stop there… the themes keep on coming and never drop in quality.  “Federico e la sua solitudine” is the next, a melody tinged with sadness and regret playing against a beautiful, summery counterpoint for a complex mix of emotions which share one thing in common – absolute beauty.  Then Morricone pulls another rabbit from his hat with “Roma baldracca”, a fluid and florid baroque melody which has a kind of opulence to it which makes it quite irresistible – the sound of the high life.

“La terra del padre” presents a more melancholic melodic variant on the B-section main theme, stripped down to a much more raw arrangement than heard when it was heard previously on the album; somehow with its obvious romantic appeal removed it doesn’t lose any of its attraction.  Likewise the following piece, “Giovanna e Federico”, is a pared-down version of the main theme’s central section, absurdly moving and powerful.  Opulent spectacle returns in “Al popolo di Parma”, yet another new melody that would be a career highlight for most film composers but barely reaches the top five within this score.  The final theme is the most sombre, “La madre”, sad and remorseful, moving and truly beautiful.  The rest of the album features variations on the themes described so far, some of them altering the feeling quite radically.

Ennio Morricone is and has always been an extraordinary film composer, writing world class music in every genre of film.  He is capable of everything from the most disturbing, dissonant musique concrète through to the most exquisite romantic melodies film music has ever heard.  Questa Specie d’Amore is full of the latter, showcasing the composer’s melodic side quite brilliantly.  The film may be fading from people’s memories but the music deserves to live on.  The most recent release, on Verita Note in 2007, featured the same programme as the 2001 ScreenTrax album with the addition of a track from another score and, while that’s now expensive to find, a digital download (without the bonus track) is widely available.  No Morricone fan should be without this masterpiece, one of the composer’s most outrageously beautiful film scores and therefore one of the most beautiful film scores; the work of a genius.

Rating: *****

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  1. mastadge on Thursday 8 May, 2014 at 22:23

    I notice that the CD version has 17 tracks and the download version has 16; the track “OUVERTURE DEL MATTINO” is omitted. In your estimation is that cue alone is worth the extra $25+(!) for the physical product?

  2. James Southall on Thursday 8 May, 2014 at 22:47

    No. That’s the “addition of a track from another score” I mentioned. (It’s from Cuore di Mamma – I assume it must have been tracked into this film.)

  3. Gorbadoc on Saturday 10 May, 2014 at 14:26

    QSA is a very rare case in my Morricone collection: for every score I own, I have the most recent, expanded edition, except for QSA, for which I deliberately bought the 2001 GDM release coupled with ‘Maddalena’ on the secondary market.

    While I definitely enjoy the themes of both QSA and ‘Maddalena’, the full album of these scores is too much of a good thing for my taste.

  4. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. on Saturday 10 May, 2014 at 23:13

    I hauled out my vinyl LP’s first edition release of this score James, after reading your enthusiastic review… and was overwhelmed by the exquisite melodies and emotive content of the themes. The Baroque-styled ‘ROMA BALDRACCA’, with mandolin & later harpsichord variations of the primary melody is a masterpiece that even VIVALDI & BOCCHERINI [composers of the Baroque era] can’t equal. To protect LPs from the ravages of diamond needles & repeated playings [before the advent of CDs], I would transfer a few tracks to cassette…so listening to the LP again this evening, was to rediscover MORRICONE’S genius in his music for QUESTA SPECIE D’AMORE. The CD release apparently has 17 cues, compared to the LP’s 9 tracks, so I will order this remastered & expanded edition. In 1988, MORRICONE visited Seville to conduct a concert of his scores > a segment titled ‘SUITE CINCO CANCIONES’ featured 5 popular themes arranged for Orchestra, Choir and Soprano [ALIDE MARIA SALVETTA]. The title theme from QUESTA SPECIE D’AMORE was among those given a lavish Classical makeover, much to the delight of fans whose cheering & Sevillana Handclapping [bursts of rhythmic clapping] forced ENNIO to provide a number of encorés. The score for QUESTA SPECIE D’AMORE was brilliantly conducted by BRUNO NICOLAI…a testament to that creative period of the MORRICONE/NICOLAI partnership. I’m hoping that some label will expand & remaster ADDIO FRATELLO CRUDELE, a period drama of brother /sister incest in the Jacobean era with the English title ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE’. The film starred Charlotte Rampling & Olivier Tobias… and features a stunning score by MORRICONE, conducted by NICOLAI.

  5. Luc Van der Eeken on Sunday 8 June, 2014 at 13:47

    James, I bought this solely on your recommendation and I’m just floored by this masterpiece. I’m a Morricone fan when he’s in his romantic/dramatic mode (less so his atonal work) and this main title brought tears to my eyes and it just keeps going. It’s a extraordinary piece of work and I very much like the classical sounding tracks as well. Thanks a million!
    PS: I took your advice last year on ‘Nostromo’ as well and that’s been a favorite ever since.