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Beautiful score recalls other Morricone masterpieces, is a real treat
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Rai Trade; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Director Alberto Negrin has worked with Ennio Morricone on ten different films, the first of which (Secret of the Sahara) inspired one of the composer's most remarkable and brilliant scores; later, I Guardiani del Cielo was a late-1990s highlight. In 1993 they collaborated on a tv movie, Missus, subtitled "The Vatican Story" which apparently is a spy story set in the modern day. This combination of political intrigue and a Catholic setting should be fertile ground for the composer - and so it was.
The album opens with "Per Olga", a gorgeous theme - reminiscent of Once Upon a Time in America's "Deborah's Theme", for sure, but still truly beautiful. "Ritorno a Mosca" is a piano-based piece of dramatic suspense music, very effective. The score's real sucker punch comes with "Viaggio Verso Dove", surely enough to melt the heart of any Morricone fan. A stunningly beautiful piece, initially for clarinet before the theme is taken up by the strings, it is another to add to the list of masterful romantic themes from this peerless composer. True to form, the following track ("Espressivamente Umano") features another - not particularly romantic I guess, but emotional and richly melodic, it's another wonderful theme.
The score takes on a different feel for a while thereafter, with "Missus" being the epitome of Morricone suspense music, uncomfortable string phrases overlapping and creating a discomforting feel. As usual, it is easier to admire than to enjoy, but it's hard not to marvel at how effective the composer is at creating just the right mood. "Dolcemente Espressivo" is more melodic, this time with a tragic air, and for the first time a vague hint of the kind of liturgical music Morricone does so well. "Nel Vortice" is extremely colourful, with layer upon layer of kaleidoscopic accompaniment to a jabbing, piercing action track. It's vintage stuff.
Thereafter, as with several Morricone albums, there are a lot of reprises of earlier themes. This time, none of the tracks are actually identical, but you'd be hard-pressed to find much of a difference between the ones with similar titles. There are only two completely "new" pieces in the album's second half - "Senza Ritorno" and "Nel Buio, La Solitudine". The former is a driving piece of action music, which actually has a passing resemblance to Morricone's western scores with its dynamic rhythm and heroic melody, though it (understandably) isn't so outlandish; the latter is just over ten minutes of virtually interminable suspense music!
After this, the reprises of the melodic themes are welcome. Missus is a wonderful score - admittedly, it breaks no new ground for Morricone (and didn't in 1993 when it was composed) but still contains such beautiful music it would be a shame to dismiss it because of that. Released by Rai Trade in Italy but available on import from the usual soundtrack dealers, this would certainly be a welcome addition to any Morricone collection.