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Ennio MORRICONE (b.1928)
The Hateful 8, soundtrack
Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Ennio Morricone
The White Stripes; David Hess; Roy Orbison
Actors: *Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen, Walter Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir
rec. CNSO Recording Studios, Prague, no date.
The White Stripes, rec. 2000, David Hess, rec.1972, Roy Orbison, no date.
DECCA 476 9489 [71:08]

I wish I had enjoyed this CD more. Despite some examples of Ennio Morricone’s music at its atmospheric best, with his trademark clarity, tunefulness and ability to conjure atmosphere in a few chords, the CD does not work very well overall as a listening experience.

A glance at the contents (below) reveals a significant reason for the lack of coherence. Nine of the 28 tracks are dialogue, only one with music. The producer of both film and CD was Quentin Tarantino. It is understandable that he might think that giving a flavour of the dialogue better represents the atmosphere of the film, and there is an argument for that. In the 1960s, the soundtrack album of the film Becket had very large chunks of dialogue, enough to tell the story of the film. However the two cases are not alike. Becket, based on Anouilh’s stage play, was wordy, the lines had a distinct literary value, and as spoken by Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton, a certain beauty. More significantly, they told the story of the film. That is not so here. One can learn something of the characters and their style, listen to them speaking against the wind. The CD carries a Parental Advisory of explicit content, mainly because of the many racist terms.

The decision to include dialogue might have been made to bulk out the length of the CD, but is odd given the circumstances of the composition. In an interview in The Los Angeles Times (11 February 2016), Morricone said:

“It is true, this music score has been written just on a reading of the script but it was a very, very careful and accurate reading of the script. In addition to that, this script was full of many, many details. It was such a bulky script because every single sequence, every single gesture of every single actor was described in many, many details. It gave me a good idea what the film would look like. I didn't compose them knowing the sequences they were intended for; I just gave Mr. Tarantino the music and then Mr. Tarantino was very, very good at actually selecting the pieces of music and putting them in the sequences and editing them in a very brilliant way"

Given that the score was written in this way, perhaps it might be presented for home listening in more purely musical terms.

Morricone’s music is not obviously Western, in the sense of ‘cowboy’ music. It is purer than that, and he remarks that he did not see the film as simply or even principally a Western. He describes the film as an adventure story which happens to be set in America just after the Civil War. The music is not in the manner of his scores for the Sergio Leone films but might be composed for a film of any era. This means the music can be heard and appreciated in its own terms. Perhaps the two strongest parts are the two opening tracks, and the extended integral version of ‘Neve’. Listen both to the pacing and the subtle use of the bassoon against a pulsing accompaniment, especially effective in ‘Neve’. The scope to develop themes over a twelve minute span is not often given to film composers, but Morricone demonstrates both control and genuine development of musical ideas. Briefer tracks give much less scope for more than a brief evocation of atmosphere.

Recording quality of the Morricone segments is excellent, and, as so often, the Czech forces play film music with commitment and precision. The liner-notes are remarkably uninformative but there is a nice foot-long photograph of a stagecoach in snow.

The music is very enjoyable, as it stands, and thoroughly worthy of Oscar nomination – the problem is the extraneous material, which detracts from repeated listening.
Michael Wilkinson

Full Track Details
L’Ultima Diligenza Di Red Rock [7.30]
Overture [3.11]
“Major Warren Meet[s] Daisy Domergue.” * [0.34]
Narratore Letterario [1.58]
Apple Blossom (The White Stripes) [2.13]
“Frontier Justice” *(1.50)
L’Ultima Diligenza Di Red Rock [2.37]
Neve - Versione Integrale [12.16]
“This Here is Daisy Domergue.” *[1.01]
Sei Cavalli [1.21]
Raggi Di Sole Sulla Montagna [1.41]
“Son of the Bloody Ni**er Killer of Baton Rouge” *[2.43]
Jim Jones at Botany Bay* [4.10]
Neve - #2 [2.05]
“Uncle Charlie’s Stew” *[1.41]
I Quattro Passeggeri [1.49]
La Musica Prima del Massacro [2.00]
L’Inferno Bianco – Synth[3.21]
The Suggestive Oswaldo Mobray* [0.47]
Now You’re All Alone (David Hess) [1.30]
Sangue e Neve [2.05]
L’Inferno Bianco – Ottoni [3.31]
Neve - #3 [2.02]
Daisy’s Speech* [1.32]
La Lettera Di Lincoln – Strumentale [1.46]
La Lettera di Lincoln – Con Dialogo* [1.43]
There Won’t Be Many Coming Home (Roy Orbison) [2.44]
La Puntura Della Morte [0.27]



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