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Ultimo – L’Occhio del Falco
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Rai Trade / 2013 / 57:18

The fourth in the Italian tv movie series Ultimo, L’Occhio del Falco follows nine years after the third part (L’Infiltrato).  It again stars Raoul Bova as a Mafia-fighting colonel in the Italian police, this time focusing on his trial after he is accused of colluding with them.  The first three parts (aired in 1998, 1999 and 2004) were scored jointly by Ennio Morricone and his son Andrea, but for the fourth outing the senior Morricone goes alone and, surprisingly, doesn’t reprise much (if any) of the music from the earlier parts, writing instead a brand new score.

The film has sat on the shelf for such a long time before being aired that while Morricone’s music has been released in early 2013 to coincide with the premiere on Italian tv, in fact he recorded the score in late 2011.  It is fairly typical “crime thriller” music from the Maestro, but with enough distinctive touches to keep things interesting for even the most seasoned Morricone listener.  The score opens with a driving main theme, orchestra joined by keyboards, electric guitar and drums for an atmospheric piece to get the adrenaline going.  “Un suono simbolico” is a more melodic piece, full of intrigue and mystery while remaining pleasantly tuneful (lovely, fluttering flutes a highlight).  “Telecontrollo” is a suspenseful piece but remains firmly melodic; then comes the highly attractive theme “Un bambino”, full of sorrow and sadness; the melody alternates between the strings and winds, with accompaniment from electric guitar.  It’s not going to go down as a Morricone classic, but it’s always nice to hear the composer working in this mode.

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone

The rotation between tension and beauty continues throughout the album.  “Il Covo” is an awkward piece of suspense music, but then the tension is relieved in the romantic “Vista dall’alto”, a very lovely piece highlighting the trademark Morricone strings.  “Una vecchia storia” is a delight, mixing the two styles, a sense of high drama provided by the intense motif repeated by first strings and then brass, with the beauty coming from the same motif interjected at times for wordless female vocal.  It’s clever, effective writing and one of the album’s highlights.  “Gruppi” is a dramatic piece highlighting some of those little string runs the composer has put in various scores (to great effect) over the years – it’s another excellent piece, this time of a considerably darker nature.  “Il vuoto” is more “pure” suspense, tremendously effective but a lot less easier to listen to on the album, and this ushers in a sequence of suspense cues which dominate the middle section of the album.  In “Umore sottovuoto”, the intensity increases ever more, which continues as the album progresses, this piece in particular being dynamic and engaging.  “Crimine organizzato” sees Morricone give the orchestra a greater workout, stabbing string phrases punctuating an awkwardly tense-sounding brassy melody.  “Indizi stradali” is a difficult piece, dissonant brass writing dominating.

There’s finally a break of sorts to the tension in “Un amore per poco”, in which a melody full of longing is heard first for piano and then strings, before blossoming into a very beautiful love theme in the piece’s second half.  “Una calma inquinata” reprises the theme heard earlier in “Un suono simbolico”, this time rather more intense.  Then comes a surprise in “Eroe”, a throwback in some ways to music heard frequently by the composer in the 1970s, a lovely new theme accompanied by a pop beat which grows in power as it progresses, culminating in a wonderful section when a keyboard doubles the strings.  “Sarà tardi” is a gorgeous version of the score’s main melodic theme, including a wonderful solo cello section, and is perhaps the piece that will stand out for many on the album.

“Il Falco” is one of the most exciting pieces in the score, action/suspense material again constantly accompanied by the electronic, pulsating beat which was heart in the album’s opening cue, but this time with the orchestra playing the leading role.  “Promessa” brings another reprise of the theme from “Un suono simbolico”, but in a darker variation this time, without the fluttering winds.  “L’occio del rapace” is a brilliant piece, the intensity ratcheted up again, a wonderful long-lined string melody providing a heightened sense of drama.  The album concludes with another piece of suspense, “I migliore”.

L’Occhio del Falco is a good work, particularly the final third of the album which is full of energy and creativity.  It’s not prime Morricone by any means, but it’s very effective music, at times dynamic and intense, occasionally romantic but always interesting.  It’s a pretty long album but it’s interesting that the composer doesn’t repeat himself often – almost all of the twenty cues are different from each other, self-contained vignettes.  It’s probably one that will appeal much more to die-hard fans of the composer than those who chip in more occasionally for his melodic masterpieces; it has quite some depth to it and while this is a genre he has explored extensively throughout his career, he has still found something fresh to offer.  The album – which features a truly appalling cover, I’m sure you’ll agree – is available exclusively as an iTunes download.

Rating: *** 1/2 |

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  1. Marco (Reply) on Sunday 5 February, 2017 at 12:03

    Actually, this is one of my favourite sountracks by the Maestro. Thank you for this review, I’m going to listen to the album again trying to understand what you said about it.