Up at the Villa
Im finding it more and more difficult to remember the Pino Donaggio
of the 70s and early 80s. The contemporary Donaggio, unlike his youthful,
perhaps somewhat impetuous self, seems to lack the spirit and originality
that was so much a part of his earlier work. When I recall his beautiful,
emotional melodies from Carrie (despite the fact that it was a horror
movie!) Donaggios work here appears so devoid of inspiration. To my
ears it is nothing more than background music, to be seen and not heard.
And is that really all we want from a composer who is capable of so much
Primarily a string based work for a romantic drama set in the composers
native Italy in the 1930s, the main title, Up at the Villa
is a rather old-fashioned piece (although sadly not in the best sense) which
is oddly oblique and much more about mood than melody. Its all very
low-key and unmemorable and this sets the tone for the work as a whole.
Brief moments of interest surface in tracks like A Pistol in
Florence, Tennis Plot-Flowers and Arrivederci,
but these are very much in the minority and short-lived. The majority of
the score is devoted to meandering, rather dull string and piano pseudo
romanticism, which eventually becomes very tiresome. The only other distinctive
score element features in tracks like Party at Peppinos
and Florence Two-Step which attempt to capture the authentic
flavour of the musical styles of the era, but to be perfectly honest they
are far from compelling and pass by without making any impact at all.
I truly cant imagine many of Donaggios fans enjoying this. Melodic
invention, surely the very thing that won them over in the first place, is
sadly missing almost entirely here. Unfortunately, its all nothing
more than wallpaper music.
A score that tries for an old-fashioned romantic sensibility from movies
of long ago, but only really succeeds in emulating those who few of us actually