This summer I spent part of my vacation in Arezzo just south of Florence.
This the town in which the Academy Award-winning film, Life is Beautiful
was shot and it was where my daughter-in-law and her 10 year-old daughter
had been studying for the better part of a year. Now, as part of her schooling
my step-granddaughter was asked to perform in one or two scenes from a
dramatisation of Gian Burrasca. Il gionalino di Gian Burrasca is the story
a mischievous young Italian boy and the events are based on his diary entries
over several years. Those familiar with the 'Just William' stories of Richmal
Crompton will know what to expect. The stories are set in the first decade
of the 20th Century. Apparently young Gian had been in the habit
of reading his elder sisters' diaries and had discovered secrets of their
love lives to devastating effect. So, in desperation of preserving their
privacy, his relations give him a diary. Various outrageous boyish adventures
are commemorated in the 28 numbers (the majority vocals) on this album, together
with Gian's outspoken and often hilarious comments on his family and his
life in Rome. He is fascinated by magic for instance and in the course of
his experiments manages to break a relative's watch and, in one incident,
accidentally shoots another relative.
Nino Rota's original soundtrack music appears to date back to 1964. Half
of the numbers seem to have been recorded then with the remainder in 1999.
It is difficult to be sure because all the text in the four page booklet
is printed in Italian only. Rota's music is written in his Fellini vein with
all the usual orchestral effects expected for slapstick comedy with many
new ones too. The numbers are both quick-tempo and jolly and slow and sentimental
as when Gian sings about his home and his friends or wonders what love is
all about. Above all they are all very tuneful. There is plenty of variety
too. There are catchy numbers like the song named after Gian Burrasca and
the wonderfully evocative 'Le piccole stazioni' in which Gian watches the
trains and wonders where they are all going; the chorus chuff-chuff chuffing
most beguilingly. Then there are a number of dance tunes: tango, Charleston
and waltz etc to liven the collection. The irascible Gian is sung with great
vitality and a sense of fun and irony by Rita Pavone.
A sparkling exhilarating album which can be enjoyed without any real knowledge