Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Ennio MORRICONE A Fistful of Sounds: A Fistful of Dollars. For A Few Dollars More. Once Upon a Time in the West.    The complete soundtracks BMG Camden 74321 660402 2CDs [87:27]
BARGAIN 2CDs listed by Crotchet at only £8.99 the pair





Spaghetti Westerns are inextricably associated with the director Sergio Leone, with Clint Eastwood and with the music of Ennio Morricone. The look, feel and sound of these films have become ikons of the 1960s; part of a wild collage which includes The Beatles, Psychedelia, long hair, Lambrettas, BSAs, leather jackets and lava lamps. In the field of classical music the avant-garde were moving well away from what melody-hungry audiences wanted. This tendency to experimentation and deconstruction found its way into Morricone’s scores.

We have the original music soundtracks of three classic Morricone scored films. The sound is excellent: very immediate and with a subtle hint of graininess which captures the original experience of the films.

A Fistful of Dollars: The title sequence and Almost Dead grab the attention superbly. The music is sulphurous, with breathy flute, bells, simple melodic cells, abrasive guitar solos and the male chorus shout-singing ‘We can fight!" The conventional Square Dance is a let-down but the other tracks are tense, reclusive, tender and dark as the night. The Theme from A Fistful of Dollars (track 7) has a cinder warm trumpet solo played and rolled with smoky muscular delicacy.

For A Few Dollars More is not separately identified among the tracks on disc 1. However it begins with track 9: Resa Dei Conti with music-box tinkling, black bass guitar, moaning choir includes a stormy loud organ solo worthy of Vierne, Widor or Saint-Saens (Symphony No. 3). Tense metallic sounds dominate Osservatoriu Osservati. A memorable guitar solo, reverberantly high in the clouds, is the central feature of Il Vizio di Uccidere.

Once Upon a Time in the West: The title track uses a theme that teeters perilously close to Roses from Amsterdam but by way of compensation there is a creamily vocalising soprano voice. The same honky-tonk Western saloon music claims Farewell to Cheyenne as well as Poker d’Assi (15) of the previous disc. Penderecki’s Hiroshima Threnody seems to have inspired the howl of the dying in As a Judgment (2). There are many ear-tingling sensations in this score: dusty wastes, hurdy-gurdy fairylands, wailing harmonics, honeyed and hood-eyed viola solos (9), jokiness (complete with hideous swannee whistle), a slow distant scream of strings (11) shrill dithyrambs (13) and finally a silvery stratospheric vocalise in a theme that links with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.

Morricone’s scores are film music classics with much depth and variety. I can and do recommend this set.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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