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FRT 408

Album cover copyright (c) 2005 Rai Trade; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall



Outstandingly beautiful, vintage Morricone effort 


This 2005 Italian tv movie tells the true story of a brigade of Italian soldiers stationed on the Greek island of Cefalonia during the second world war, when Mussolini's government falls.  It was one of seven movies scored by veteran composer Ennio Morricone during the year - three of which were set during the second world war!  It's vastly different from those other two (Il Cuore nel Pozzo and the outstanding Fateless) - Morricone continues to dazzle with creativity even at this stage of his career.  After a few consecutive scores in which he very slightly seemed to be going through the motions, he very much returned with some outstanding work during 2005 - and the rate at which he continues to score movies is nothing short of amazing, given his advancing age.

Cefalonia is, for the most part, a melodic treat, suggesting far more the beauty of the place itself rather than the horrors being committed on it.  The anthemic "Dammi la Mano", which opens and closes the disc, is clearly the highlight - vageuly reminiscent of Morricone's sublime millennium celebration piece "Cantico del Giubileo", featuring the unique choral arrangements he does so well, and all based around a stirring and memorable melody.  Vintage Morricone!  The second piece is just as beautiful, though in a different way; a little in the style of his lilting theme from Malena, "Quella Sera" is enough to melt the heartstrings.  There's a bit of a surprise next, in "Sulla Sponda", with Morricone writing the kind of lush, sweeping romantic music he did in the 1970s on scores like Questa Specie d'Amore - outstanding stuff!  And then comes a trumpet-led version of the main theme in "Nell'Isola, Soli" - gorgeous, once more!  Nobody else writes music quite like this.

If all of this makes it sound like the score is nothing but a patchwork quilt of previous Morricone efforts, then it shouldn't - I'm just giving a point of reference so his fans know what to expect.  There is such a wonderful base of stunning melodic music here, it's a real treat for fans of that side of the composer (well - who isn't!?)  Yet another wonderful theme is introduced in "Riflessivo, Meditativo" (even I could guess at a translation for that one) - simplistic, quite restrained, completely beautiful.  Then - boom!  It's Morricone-a-go-go!  In an unexpected but delightful shift, in "Via dall'Inferno" we're suddenly in the action music style of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, and the like, with pounding piano, pipe organ, crazy string runs, trumpets going bananas - brilliant.

After the old-fashioned love theme "Ancora Vivi per l'Amore" comes the 14-minute suspense piece "Composizione sulla Resistenza", the most dramatic and tense section of the score, based around several dissonant ideas not dissimilar to the composer's Richard III.  Morricone's suspense music is certainly an acquired taste, but it's always wonderful to hear such a gifted composer crafting a piece as long and involving as this one, even if the melodic beauty of the rest of the album is left behind for a while.  It's easy to underrate these Morricone scores simply because so much of what he writes is so consistently excellent - but underrating Morricone has never been a particular problem of mine, and I'm not about to start here.  For fans of the composer, Cefalonia is simply yet another triumph.

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  1. Dammi la Mano (6:46)
  2. Quella Sera (1:55)
  3. Sulla Sponda (2:28)
  4. Nell'Isola, Soli (3:48)
  5. Piccola Marcia (2:50)
  6. Fratelli d'Italia (1:11)
  7. Una Sera in Permesso (2:59)
  8. Fiflessivo, Meditativo (3:40)
  9. Via dall'Inferno (2:48)
  10. Marcia del Giuramento (3:05)
  11. Ancora Vivi per l'Amore (2:06)
  12. Composizione sulla Resistenza (14:18)
  13. Dammi la Mano (6:46)