Morricone Conducts Morricone

Translated from the German, Mr. Keller informs us that “It
is no exaggeration to call Ennio Morricone the Picasso of film music,
an experimenter for whom the synchronicity of the historically
diachronic has become a point of principle…” That’s because
Morricone sometimes throws in a harpsichord or some such antiquated
musical instrument. Ergo – he’s Picasso!

A master of his craft, Morricone certainly deserves an overview of
his work. Is this the ideal tribute? Doubtful. The composer leads the
large orchestra without much exertion; he spends a surprising amount of
time looking down at his own scores. The music is  well-played and
recorded, but a few minutes of one score fading into a few minutes of
another doesn’t make for the most riveting viewing experience.

The concert breaks his work into five sections, each with its own
title. Many will be waiting for the third, “Sergio Leone: Modern Film
legends.” These are the classic scores that brought Morricone
world-wide fame. It is here that a soprano and chorus join the
orchestra for some vocalise-style contributions (thus prompting
this review for OperaToday). Susanna Rigacci is not asked to do too
much strenuous work, and probably her pleasant voice would be less
attractive if asked to.  The chorus “ooh”s and “ahh”s with
commendable enthusiasm.

Since 100 minutes of film music excerpts, even from as esteemed a
composer as Morricone, could use some variety, the vocals help break up
the program, as does a visit from Ulrich Herkenhoff, a panpipes
performer. Ultimately, this concert has to be for the most dedicated
film music fans. Music that adds so much to the cinematic experience
can be curiously uninvolving as concert fare, and Morricone himself,
with his deadpan manner, lacks charisma as a conductor. The
presentation is classy and the camera work professional (the director
credit goes to a Giovanni Morricone – no word as to a possible relation
to the composer). However, the few brief snippets of some actual film
footage serve to emphasize that the best presentation for this music
remains as soundtrack to a film experience.

Chris Mullins
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy

image_description=Morricone Conducts Morricone
product_title=Morricone Conducts Morricone
product_by=Susanna Rigacci, soprano, Gilda Butt‡, piano, Ulrich Herkenhoff, panpipes, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, M¸nchner Rundfunkorchester, Ennio Morricone, conductor
product_id=EuroArts 2054698 [DVD]