May 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /May01/

Il Vedovo (The Widow)
OST CAM 498281-2 * [39:46]
CAM Original Soundtracks

The comedic premise of "The Widow", a 1959 Italian film unseen by me (typical Jeff Wheeler behaviour...), does not quite match the music I hear a third time as I sit down to write this brief hortative. The tried-and-true plot as outlined in the album notes: a man gets a taste of his wealthy wife's inheritance when it appears that she has met an untimely demise; when the wife returns, her pulse as strong as ever, he formulates a twisted plan to keep his new-found riches.

The soundtrack is mostly jazz, and descriptive track titles like 'G.I. Boogie' and 'Jumping' help set the mood. The album begins with 'Widowed', an apposite funeral march that segues suddenly into a waggish direction. Unfortunately, evidence of wit at the onset sets up expectations dashed by the agonising second track, an underdeveloped Henry Mancini-like bossa nova that reminds me of the Muzak heard in elevators during my early youth, but without the novelty. This theme severely interrupts the swingin' flow of the soundtrack. A few tracks later is the more noteworthy 'Chet is the Back' (a mistranslation?), a fast piece of good-cheer, which is followed nicely by a piano nocturne and a eupeptic 'Study in "G" Minor'. Second versions of the main themes finish the disc.

Apart from the opening gag, nothing about the score indicates that it is for a comedy. Armando Trovaioli began his career writing music for theatre, a biographical note that raises questions about the lack of a ballet or burlesque approach to "The Widow". He avoids making the music hysterical and, perhaps as a far better thing than 'Mickey-Mousing', he channels the wit into technique. Obviously, not every witticism can be a winner, regardless of how it is applied. The score offers some fun nonetheless.

Production on the disc is less than fabulous. Sleeve notes are skimpy, and the blend of grayscale and color in the cover design is queasy. The sound is consistent with the late '50s.

I cannot say I will play this recording often. Most jazz leaves me cold, and it never lingers in my memory. However, I recommend this disc to those that better appreciate the style, and because I rather enjoyed the album myself.

Jeffery Wheeler

Ian Lace adds:-

Il Vedovo (The Widow) is an Italian comedy dating from 1959. The music which is very much in the familiar mould of so many CAM recordings we receive to review slots into the Easy Listening category. It is also music very much of the late 1950s. The opening 'Widowed' is a very Italian funeral march seemingly played on the small town band before a breezy jazz tune indicates that the deceased is not missed much because this film concerns a man whose wealthy wife has died in a car crash - or has she. When she turns up very much alive the fun begins; when the husband tries to bump her off for real he gets caught up in his own machinations. The other numbers remind one of the Bossa Novas of the period and the sort of music one heard backing such 1960s comedies as Barefoot in the Park (Neal Hefti). Additionally there is a mix of traditional, mainstream and modern jazz, and boogi plus a more relaxed piano solo 'Nocturne' in a slow smoochy swing style.

Pleasant enough but we have heard it all before and often better.

Ian Lace

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit