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E RIDENDO L'UCCISE
Impressive (if unspectacular) period music from Morricone
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Beat Records; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
An intriguing-sounding sixteenth century tale set in the Italian Court, E Ridendo l'Uccise is the fifth collaboration between director Florestano Vancini and composer Ennio Morricone (and the first since 1993's Piazza di Spagno). With its baroque stylings, ever-present harpsichord and occasional flurries from recorder, piccolo trumpet and choir, the score has a passing similarity to one of Morricone's greatest recent works, the extraordinary Vatel.
Unlike that score, this one remains firmly entrenched in the period stylings - there are no sweeping Morricone love themes here. It is playful music to be sure - the story is essentially told through the eyes of the court jester, and Morricone reflects this with music which sometimes features a large dose of humour, and others pulls back and suggests more than a hint of tragedy - the tears of a clown, and all that.
There are several main themes; I suspect some of them are based on folk melodies. The most memorable is that heard in extended form in "La Ferrara delle Burle" (there are three tracks of that name - the first features a splattering of narration, the other two do not), a really fine piece which wonderful captures the spirit of these sixteenth century frolicks. Elsewhere, the most satisfying material is that which features the (predominantly female) choir - these are also the sections which are most similar to the dramatic source music of Vatel, though they aren't so memorable here. There are occasional diversions into suspense (and one terrific action piece, "Violenza e Massacro"), but for the most part this is relatively cheerful music.
The good parts are very good, and there is a real consistency that makes it very easy to sit and listen to the album from start to end. However, your tolerance for the score will certainly be low if you don't like this kind of period music. I think Morricone pulls it off well and, even if the music isn't as spectacular as his finest scores of the last few years, this is still very impressive stuff and well worth having for fans of the composer. The release from Beat Records includes lengthy liner notes about film and director and even a brief word from the composer himself.