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 Morricones
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 dAssi
(15) of the previous disc. Pendereckis 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 Tchaikovskys Romeo and Juliet.
Morricones scores are film music classics with much depth and variety.
I can and do recommend this set.