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Via Mala
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • GDM Music / 1998 / 43m

A three-part German television miniseries from 1985, Via Mala is based on John Knittel’s 1934 novel about a violent alcoholic who leads a depraved life at the expense of his family.  Cheery stuff!  Ennio Morricone’s score is anything but depraved, however – and indeed its central theme, “Silvie”, is one of those knockout gorgeous pieces he’s so famous for.  It’s repeated several times across the album, a really lovely piece – no vocals for once, just a purely orchestral treat.  There are various other themes which emerge over the next few tracks – “Un vecchio pittore” is another beauty, evocative of the beautiful Swiss landscapes in which the series is set.

As you’d expect given the story matter, there’s a fair amount of darker music too.  There is some pure suspense, like “Fuoci dei sentimenti” and “Non amore” – even here there is a real sense of beauty hiding away under the surface.  More surprising to me is the occasional burst of violent action music, such as the piercingly dark “Morte de Niklaus”.  Best of all in that regard is the brilliant eponymous “Via Mala”, a screeching piece of brassy action music that’s an absolute thrill ride.  “Ninna nanna per una bambola senza vita” is an evocative piece – its title translates as the beautifully poetic “Lullaby for a lifeless doll” and the music offers a great contrast between the innocent childlike melody and the decidedly grown-up bed of strings underneath.  The lengthy suspense piece “La notte del delitto” which concludes the album is probably the least interesting piece on it, but otherwise Via Mala is a strong scorewith one wonderful theme and one great action track, and high quality supporting material, well worth seeking out.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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