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Recordings

Morricone Conducts Morricone
01 Aug 2006

Morricone Conducts Morricone

Connoisseurs of pretentious booklet essay verbiage will delight in the prose style of  Matthias Kellerin his musings for this EuroArts DVD of Ennio Morricone conducting his film scores with the Munich radio orchestra.

Morricone Conducts Morricone

Susanna Rigacci, soprano, Gilda Buttà, piano, Ulrich Herkenhoff, panpipes, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Ennio Morricone, conductor

EuroArts 2054698 [DVD]

$22.99  Click to buy

Translated from the German, Mr. Keller informs us that "It is no exaggeration to call Ennio Morricone the Picasso of film music, an experimenter for whom the synchronicity of the historically diachronic has become a point of principle..." That's because Morricone sometimes throws in a harpsichord or some such antiquated musical instrument. Ergo - he's Picasso!

A master of his craft, Morricone certainly deserves an overview of his work. Is this the ideal tribute? Doubtful. The composer leads the large orchestra without much exertion; he spends a surprising amount of time looking down at his own scores. The music is  well-played and recorded, but a few minutes of one score fading into a few minutes of another doesn't make for the most riveting viewing experience.

The concert breaks his work into five sections, each with its own title. Many will be waiting for the third, "Sergio Leone: Modern Film legends." These are the classic scores that brought Morricone world-wide fame. It is here that a soprano and chorus join the orchestra for some vocalise-style contributions (thus prompting this review for OperaToday). Susanna Rigacci is not asked to do too much strenuous work, and probably her pleasant voice would be less attractive if asked to.  The chorus "ooh"s and "ahh"s with commendable enthusiasm.

Since 100 minutes of film music excerpts, even from as esteemed a composer as Morricone, could use some variety, the vocals help break up the program, as does a visit from Ulrich Herkenhoff, a panpipes performer. Ultimately, this concert has to be for the most dedicated film music fans. Music that adds so much to the cinematic experience can be curiously uninvolving as concert fare, and Morricone himself, with his deadpan manner, lacks charisma as a conductor. The presentation is classy and the camera work professional (the director credit goes to a Giovanni Morricone - no word as to a possible relation to the composer). However, the few brief snippets of some actual film footage serve to emphasize that the best presentation for this music remains as soundtrack to a film experience.

Chris Mullins
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy

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