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A TIME TO DIE
Taut suspense music with a beautiful main theme from the Maestro
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Charles Lee International Productions; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
Ennio Morricone hasn't really scored that many American films, at least as a proportion of his vast output, and it's always surprising to see what choices he made on the occasions he did cross the pond. Very curious are the three films he scored for director Matt Cimber in 1982 and 1983 - Butterfly, Hundra and A Time to Kill, all of which were pretty low-profile and generated abysmal reviews. A Time to Die is a story of an American soldier who sets out to kill the Nazis responsible for the death of his wife, following the end of WWII. It's adapted from a story by Mario Puzo, but frankly the attempts to market it as having something in common with The Godfather seem a little wide of the mark.
This new release from BSX Records presents the score on CD for the first time. It's mastered from a vinyl source - the only one available - but the sound is OK for the most part. The main theme, opening the album, is undoubtedly the highlight, a rich and melodic - but very serious - theme which Morricone does so well (and has done several hundred times). It's not exactly memorable in the way that many of those hundreds of themes are, but is impressive enough. The grandly-titled "Recitation on an Ancient Harpsichord" does indeed start and end with such a recitation, but is mostly melodic suspense music from the orchestra, which is typically effective from this composer. Then, the brief "Tzigane Style" features some beautiful gypsy-like violin playing which is truly impressive.
After that, the score takes an about-turn into far more difficult territory, save for the reprises of the gorgeous main theme in the two cues titled "The Girl from Munich". The rest is mostly dissonant - I guess I don't need to say to anyone familiar with Morricone's suspense writing how effective it is, but as usual it is far more difficult to enjoy than it is to appreciate. At its most straightfoward it's great, but it's pretty hard to really sit through some of the most extreme passages, which is of course the intention! A Time to Die is not a major score by Morricone standards, but it is not without its share of high-quality moments, and it's welcome to have a CD of it.