Home > Reviews > Under-the-Radar Round Up 2020, Part VI

Under-the-Radar Round Up 2020, Part VI

January 22, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

As the year winds down and the COVID-19 Coronavirus continues still to decimate the 2020 theatrical movie schedule, it appears that yet again a lot of the best film music released comes from smaller international features not as reliant on massive theatrical releases to make their presence felt. As such (and as I did last year under much different circumstances) I am very pleased to present the sixth and final installment (for this calendar year) in my ongoing series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world.

The titles included are a Spanish TV documentary about a legendary footballer, a Norwegian fantasy-horror about Norse gods, a Spanish comedy score set in the 1970s, a raucous animated adventure from Ireland, and three terrific scores from Italy: a mafia thriller, a biopic about a beloved entertainer, and a comedy about serial killers!

 

COLGAR LAS ALAS – Carlos Martín Jara

Iker Casillas is one of the greatest goalkeepers in Spanish soccer history, having played over 700 games for the legendary Real Madrid club between 1999 and 2015, and having represented his country at five European Championships and four World Cups, winning the greatest prize in 2010. In May 2019, while training with his new club Porto, Casillas suffered a heart attack, and was then diagnosed with cancer; this new documentary TV series Colgar Las Alas, broadcast on the Spanish Movistar network, looks back at Casillas’s life and career, and follows his journey from beloved goalkeeper to cancer patient.

The score for Colgar Las Alas is by the superb young Spanish composer Carlos Martín Jara, whose work on the TV series Reinas and Otros Mundos, and the thriller Sordo, earned him many fans – me included. Anyone who has experienced any of his previous scores will find a great deal of Colgar Las Alas to their liking as it displays all the compositional creativity his earlier works showed; however, where Colgar Las Alas differs is in its scope and diversity. The word ‘eclectic’ could been coined specifically to describe this score. It moves from modern pop and rock sounds to high classical pastiche, contemporary orchestral textures, electronica, and everything in between, sometimes within the same cue, sometimes simultaneously. It’s the epitome of a mixed bag, but the one thing it all has in common is its excellence.

Several cues stand out. The opening “Iker Theme” is a superb piece of orchestral hard rock, driving and passionate, full of thrusting strings and dominant drums, but with an elegant melody at its core. The 8-minute “A Wonderful Journey” features sparkling piano runs accentuated by lush, hopeful orchestral passages that reach rousing heights as the cue progresses. Perhaps the highlight of the entire score is the astonishing “Baroque Football,” which pits a mesmerizing, undulating piano line against a throbbing electronic pulse, bold orchestral tones, and eventually a soaring choir. The pianos in “Friends” and the subsequent “Normal Day” take on an almost spiritual air through the use of soothing electronic tones, “Good Vibes” is uplifting, “Never Turning Back” features a scintillating and thunderous cello motif, “Playing” is full of life and joy. It just goes on and on like this.

Many of the other cues have a proud, determined edge to them, again combining orchestral forces with rock guitars and drum licks, illustrating both the drive that took Casillas to the pinnacle of world football, and which then supported him in his battle against illness. “Last Touch of Power, “Another Day Again,” “No Matter What,” and “With an Epic Taste” are excellent examples of this style, and are also album standouts.

Colgar Las Alas is a truly outstanding documentary score, one of the year’s best, and with a running time of more than 90 minutes contains more than enough music to keep the most discerning connoisseurs entertained. It also just drives home to me just how wonderful the film music world is, and how the best music can come from the most unlikely places. A TV documentary about a Spanish soccer goalkeeper? Who knew?! Well, now you do. It’s available as a digital download from most good online retailers.

Track Listing: 1. Iker Theme (3:00), 2. Last Touch of Power (4:54), 3. A Second Home (2:47), 4. A Wonderful Journey (8:21), 5. Always That Feeling (2:37), 6. Baroque Football (7:06), 7. Remember (4:42), 8. Friends (1:34), 9. Another Day Again (2:28), 10. Good Vibes (2:47), 11. Heart (8:04), 12. Never Turning Back (1:27), 13. Never Turning Back Reprise (2:32), 14. No Matter What (2:20), 15. Normal Day (3:35), 16. Playing (3:03), 17. With an Epic Taste (1:33), 18. You Never Know (2:09), 19. The Way He Wanted (2:04), 20. Thinking About (4:06), 21. The Fact (1:58), 22. Almost There (3:58), 23. Always There (2:06), 24. As Expected (3:24), 25. Attitude (4:36), 26. Memories (3:54), 27. Reflexion (2:56). Movistar Sound, 94 minutes 15 seconds.

 

EXPLOTA EXPLOTA – Roque Baños

Explota Explota – known in English as My Heart Goes Boom! – is a so-called ‘juke box comedy’ built around the music of the iconic Italian pop star Raffaella Carrà. The film is set in the early 1970s in Spain and stars Ingrid García Jonsson as María, a young dancer who dreams of breaking free from the repression and censorship of the Franco Regime, and becoming a TV star; her story is told through Carrà’s songs, which provide the soundtrack to her life. The film is directed by Nacho Álvarez and has become a huge popular success in Spain since its release in October 2020.

The score for Explota Explota is by the great Spanish composer Roque Baños, who had an exceptionally busy 2020 with this score, the powerful drama Adú, the horror thrillers His House and Come Play, the comedy sequel Padre No Hay Más Que Uno 2, and the fantasy TV series 30 Monedas, among others. Baños’s task on Explota Explota was to somehow try to weave a coherent score through the multitude of Carrà songs on the soundtrack – no mean feat to achieve, considering how prominent and important those songs are to the success of the film. Thankfully, Baños succeeded admirably, and did so by blending the upbeat flair of Carrà’s songs with his own comedy stylings and period arrangements.

Cues like “Novia a la Carrera,” “El Viaje de Massi,” “Oficina de Chimo,” “El Chivatazo de Chimo,” and several others are rooted in a stereotypically south European sound, languid and wry comedic marches with lots of strummed guitars, muted horns, and lilting strings. The main theme introduced in the opening cue gets a peppy, charming lounge jazz makeover in “Estudios de Television,” which initiates a whole host of retro 1960s and 70s pieces, like the sensual rhumba in “Paseo por el Retiro,” the sultry and intoxicating “Ahora Te Toca a Ti,” the bossa nova beats of “Llegada de Massi,” and the grittier jazz of “La Soledad de Pablo”.

There is also a great deal of wistful romance, with cues such as “Volando a Madrid,” “Carta de Ajuste,” the sensitive “El Milagro de Santa Clarita,” and the tenderly emotional “Despedida de Vero y María” awash in Hollywood strings and sparkling atmosphere. These tracks also often featuring further statements of the main theme, and anyone who has ever found themselves swaying to Ennio Morricone’s scores from that era will love these too.

Explota Explota is a wholly charming score, short and sweet but with enough variance to be interesting, and a memorable main theme running through the whole thing. If you have never had an affinity for 1960s jazz-style scores then the appeal of the score may not be immediately apparent, but those who do have a penchant for that genre will discover plenty to admire. It also caps of a splendid year for Roque Baños, who seems to be discovering the form which made him one of the greatest Spanish composers of the 1990s and early 2000s. The score is available as a digital download from most good online retailers.

Track Listing: 1. Novia a la Carrera (1:58), 2. Volando a Madrid (0:45), 3. Encuentro en el Aeropuerto (0:56), 4. Estudios de Television (1:45), 5. Paseo por el Retiro (1:52), 6. El Viaje de Massi (1:19), 7. Oficina de Chimo (1:18), 8. Carta de Ajuste (1:28), 9. El Milagro de Santa Clarita (1:14), 10. Despedida de Lucas (1:17), 11. El Chivatazo de Chimo (1:47), 12. Ahora Te Toca a Ti (1:46), 13. Llegada de Massi (1:17), 14. La Soledad de Pablo (1:24), 15. Despedida de Vero y María (1:19), 16. Pablo Busca a María (1:06), 17. Despedida y Encuentro (1:48). Meliam Music, 24 minutes 10 seconds

 

IL DELITTO MATTARELLA – Marco Werba

Il Delitto Mattarella is an Italian crime thriller written and directed by Aurelio Grimaldi. It looks at the life of Piersanti Mattarella, an Italian politician who was assassinated by the Cosa Nostra mafia crime organization in 1980, while he was serving as the president of Sicily. The film stars David Coco in the title role, and was a modest critical success in its native country when it was released in July 2020.

The score for Il Delitto Mattarella is by Spanish-born composer Marco Werba, who made use of the Orchestra del Teatro Cilea of Reggio Calabria and special soloists for violin, cello, horn, guitar, and flute, to realize his score. Werba notes that the score is built around four recurring themes: an ‘obsessive rhythmic theme’ introduced in the cue “‘L’Aquila,” an ‘intriguing and turbid composition’ first hear in “Corleone,” a theme linked to the main character “Piersanti Mattarella,” and finally a theme that describes the Sicily of the 1980s.

Each of these cues are established at the beginning of the score, and right from the outset you know Werba means business, establishing the tumultuous piano motif for L’Aquila in the opening cue. This theme feels almost like something Lalo Schifrin might have written for a Mission Impossible spinoff, and it’s quite superb. The subsequent theme for “Coleone” is indeed dark and dramatically potent, with a buzzing electric guitar piercing the stark orchestral tones. The theme for “Piersanti Mattarella” himself has a tone of impending tragedy conveyed via emotional cello lines and delicate flutes, while the music for “Sicilia, 1980” has a neo-classical edge underpinned with menace, pianos and staccato strings slashing away in a manner that Ennio Morricone would have approved of.

Most of the rest of the score is based on variations on these recurring themes, although a handful of cues were written by additional composer Maria Soldatini. Of these, “Irma” is a lovely lilting for classical guitar, “Il Grigio, Il Verde” revisits the same theme but arranges it for solo piano, “Niente Mare” is a medieval-sounding melody for a string quartet that is realty lovely, and “Pensieri” is gorgeous orchestral lament. The one outlier is “Palme,” and fun and to-tapping big band piece, and there is also a small selection of classical source compositions by English renaissance musician Henry Purcell.

Il Delitto Mattarella is an excellent score which fans of classic Italian crime thrillers should seek out and enjoy. Italian cinema has always been a hotbed of excellent composers, and Marco Werba proves again that he is one of the key men keeping that legacy alive. The score is available on CD from Digitmovies, and as a digital download from most good online retailers.

Track Listing: 1. L’Aquila (1:41), 2. Corleone (1:46), 3. Piersanti Mattarella (1:47), 4. What Power Art Thou? (written by Henry Purcell) (2:04), 5. Irma (written by Maria Soldatini) (1:42), 6. Sicilia, 1980 (1:18), 7. Il Grigio, Il Verde (written by Maria Soldatini) (2:36), 8. L’Incontro 1&2 (1:31), 9. Niente Mare (written by Maria Soldatini) (3:10), 10. Omicidio Calcaterra/L’Aquila [Mix 2] (2:29), 11. Pensieri (written by Maria Soldatini) (2:35), 12. Piersanti Mattarella [Mix 2] (2:52), 13. Palme (written by Maria Soldatini) (3:10), 14. What Power Art Thou? [Mix 2] (written by Henry Purcell) (3:20), 15. Sicilia 1980 [Mix 2] (1:32), 16. Il Delitto Mattarella (2:43), 17. Corleone [Mix 2] (2:02), 18. Piersanti Mattarella [Mix 3] (2:53), 19. Palme [Alternate Take] (written by Maria Soldatini) (1:18), 20. Piersanti Mattarella [Alternate Take] (1:44). Digitmovies SPDM-015CD, 46 minutes 44 seconds.

 

I LIVIATANI: CATTIVE ATTITUDINI – Susan Di Bona and Salvatore Sangiovanni

I Liviatani: Cattive Attitudini is an Italian comedy film directed by Riccardo Papa, starring Gabriele Lo Giudice and Federica Sabatini. Lo Giudice plays Orlando, who travels with his friend to the family home of his girlfriend, Diana, to ask her father for her hand in marriage. However, when the friends arrive at the family’s opulent villa in the Italian countryside, things quickly turn south when they realize that Diana’s family are all members of a long-lined dynasty of serial killers!

The score for I Liviatani: Cattive Attitudini is by composers Susan Di Bona and Salvatore Sangiovanni, and for most people this will be the introduction to their work. The composers approached the film’s absurd setting with a wonderful sense of grand guignol overkill, recalling many of the classic Italian giallo movies of the past with boldly striking orchestral writing, eerie gothic pianos, abstract electronica and musique concrete, and so much more.

The opening few cues – “Blood Moon,” “Tick-Tock Rabbit,” “Grotesque Arabesque,” and so on – actually play up the comedic side, and are filled with prancing strings and light metallic textures. Hints that not all is quite right start to appear in tracks like “Tutti a Tavola,” the downbeat “Un Valzer Ancora,” and the unnervingly elegant “The Importance of Being Ermanno,” and this sense of imperceptible dread and encroaching horror slowly builds until the whole thing explodes in the disturbing “Dark Eyes Locked,” whose electronic tones have shades of Fabio Frizzi and Goblin.

“Il Suo Profumo Mi Soffoca” maintains the tone of dark elegance; the glassy electronica tones in “Eyes of Crystal,” “Vox Perpetua,” and “A Fuoco Lento” evoke the body horror of Dario Argento, “Slow Maniacal Steampunk” brings back the manipulated electric guitars. The rentlentlessly energetic but classically minded “A Revelation Named Silvio” builds to an impressive conclusion, “El Tango y la Muerte” is an appropriately named rock tango that returns to the comedic ideas of the first half of the score in a peculiarly passionate way, while the end credits piece “The Crimson Waltz” features poetic, gothic vocals in English that are brilliantly, absurdly sincere. Two other tracks worth mentioning is the soft rock songs “Non ti Manco” and “So Good to Eat,” both of which sound like refugees from a mid-1960s Ennio Morricone score, with former having a line which sounds hilariously like ‘I am a monkey’ in English!

Di Bona and Sangiovanni are clearly having a ball scoring all this blood and comedic carnage, and it shows in the score. The schizophrenic nature of it all might be a turn off for listeners who prefer a more consistent tone, but the pastiche and parody is very well done, and appeal to fans of Italian giallo, the orchestral stylings of Ennio Morricone, and the electronica of Goblin. The score is available as a digital download via the Italian label Sonitus.

Track Listing: 1. Blood Moon (0:39), 2. Tick-Tock Rabbit (0:55), 3. The Road to The Mansion/Tick-Tock Welcome (1:05), 4. Grotesque Arabesque (0:27), 5. Tutti a Tavola (1:57), 6. Grave Sospetto/Un Valzer Ancora (0:49), 7. Un Meccanismo Perfetto (0:31), 8. All in Good Time (1:06), 9. Una Fredda Notte D’inverno (0:25), 10. The Importance of Being Ermanno (2:13), 11. Tick-Tock Hitchcock (0:37), 12. Pusillanime (1:04), 13. Dark Eyes Locked (1:18), 14. Il Suo Profumo Mi Soffoca (2:29), 15. Red Strokes (0:42), 16. I Liviatani Nei Secoli (1:48), 17. It’s Not Funny (1:46), 18. A Fuoco Spento (1:51), 19. Non ti Manco (3:50), 20. A Detective (0:37), 21. Eyes of Crystal (1:39), 22. Solo Amicizia/Tuo Figlio (2:05), 23. Slow Maniacal Steampunk (1:19), 24. Vox Perpetua (2:11), 25. The Heart of a Swan (Reprise) (1:42), 26. What a Detective (0:24), 27. Macabre (1:06), 28. Quella Dannata Liviatani (0:45), 29. A Fuoco Lento (2:18), 30. La Tua Mano Mi Soffoca (3:55), 31. I 7 Padroni del Mondo (1:14), 32. Biagioland (1:25), 33. A Revelation Named Silvio (4:44), 34. Eleganti Non Si Nasce (Soirée) (4:11), 35. El Tango y la Muerte (2:08), 36. Amici Come Non Mai (0:52), 37. Davanti Ai Tuoi Occhi (1:00), 38. Return to Blood Moon (1:11), 39. The Crimson Waltz (2:46), 40. So Good to Eat (2:42). Sonitus, 65 minutes 46 seconds.

 

MORTAL – Marcus Paus

Mortal, also called Torden, is dark fantasy thriller from Norway, co-written and directed by André Øvredal. The film is inspired by Norse mythology, and stars American actor Nat Wolff as Eric, a young man on the run after apparently killing his entire family in a fire, and who appears to be manifesting powers similar to those wielded by the traditional Norse gods, including the ability to make things burn just by touching them. After another incident Eric comes into contact with a psychologist named Christine who tries to help him, and tries to determine whether Eric is delusional or really does have god-like superpowers. The film co-stars Iben Arkelie and Per Frisch and was a popular success in Norway when it opened.

The score for Mortal is by composer Marcus Paus, who is one of the most acclaimed Norwegian classical composers of his generation, and who has written numerous orchestral works, choral works, operas, and chamber pieces since he first emerged onto the international scene in 2004. Mortal is his third film score, but is the first one to make any sort of impact in the film music world outside of Norway; it’s also likely to be remembered as the breakthrough of a superb ‘new’ talent because if this is any indication of his work, he’s going to be massive very soon.

As one might expect, the score is mostly dark and brooding, a combination of intense string writing and eerie electronic atmospheric which create the appropriate sense of mystery and trepidation surrounding the main character. However, unlike many of its contemporaries, Paus is very much interested on melody and thematic content too; this isn’t a drone score in any way – it actually takes time to build up a series of darkly elegant themes that develop over the course of the score and emerge into a series of powerful crescendos.

Several cues stand out. The opening cue “Mortal,” sets the scene, before segueing into the main title cue “Ecce Eric,” which gradually morphs out of a bed of spooky synth atmospherics into a haunting main theme for a hardanger fiddle, cleverly making the link between the main character and the classic Norse gods. There is some brutal action in cues like “The Interrogation,” “The Helicopter Scene,” “Underwater Rescue,” and especially the massive “1st Miracle,” which throbs to intense banks of rhythmic strings, bombastic percussion, and intricate brass clusters. These are tempered by calmer, more introspective, perhaps even hesitantly romantic writing for soft strings and piano in cues like “Christine’s Introduction,” “Eric Surrenders,” “Scars,” and the lovely “Eric & Christine, pt. II,” many of which reprise the main theme, each coloring the relationship between Eric and the psychologist sent to evaluate him.

As the score builds to its finale Paus’s music becomes much more broad in scope, beginning with the massive and darkly compelling “The Miracle on the Bridge,” which feels like something Elliot Goldenthal or Don Davis might have written for this film, and introduces cooing angelic voices and church organs into the mix. “A God” has a sense of growing majesty, “Ragnarok in Retrospect” simmers with barely-suppressed power, and The Family Farm” has a feeling of tragic elegance, while the 15-minute conclusion in “The Revelation” and “Finale & End Credits” blends the longing, tragic nature of the main theme with magical textures and searching, majestic orchestral passages of great dramatic resonance, resulting in a truly stunning climax. The gargantuan brass writing in the “Finale” truly has to be heard to be believed!

Mortal is a terrific score, an intelligent blend of orchestra and electronics anchored by an appropriately tragic main theme, but which builds to some truly epic heights as the main protagonist unleashes his godlike powers. Although he has been known in classical circles for some time, this is nevertheless a superb introduction to Marcus Paus as a film music composer, and I hope he continues to rise as years to by. The score is available as a digital download from most good online retailers.

Track Listing: 1. Mortal (3:08), 2. Ecce Eric (3:14), 3. The Interrogation Scene (4:12), 4. Christine’s Introduction (3:43), 5. 1st Miracle (4:45), 6. Eric Surrenders (2:08), 7. The Helicopter Scene (1:31), 8. Underwater Rescue (2:27), 9. The Journey Begins (1:59), 10. Eric & Christine, pt. I (3:03), 11. Scars (1:51), 12. Eric & Christine, pt. II (3:45), 13. The Miracle on the Bridge (7:40), 14. Lamento (4:04), 15. The Hospital Scene (2:42), 16. A God (3:18), 17. Ragnarok in Retrospect (3:45), 18. The Family Farm (3:27), 19. Subterranean Secrets (3:03), 20. The Revelation (5:07), 21. Finale & End Credits (9:53). MTG Music, 78 minutes 57 seconds.

 

OOOPS! 2: TWO BY TWO OVERBOARD! – Eímear Noone and Craig Stuart Garfinkle

Ooops! 2: Two By Two Overboard! is an Irish animated film directed by Toby Genkel and Sean McCormack, loosely based on the Old Testament bible story of Noah and the ark. It’s a sequel to the 2005 film Two By Two, and follows the adventures of two young animals – Finny, who is some sort of bird called a nestrian, and Leah, who is some sort of wolf called a grymp – who contrive to fall off the ark. While their parents desperately try to find them, and keep the peace on board the boat, Finny and Leah wash up on a desert island populated by more nestrians – much to the dismay of the island’s leader, who wants to keep the place secret. There are other dangers around each corner, including a volcano about to give up its dormant status, but this is mostly harmless fun for kids, colorful and energetic.

The score for Two By Two Overboard is by Irish composer-conductor Eímear Noone and her American husband, composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle. Noone is something of a star in the world of video game music, having conducted orchestras around the world as the fearsome ‘conductrix,’ and written music for numerous Blizzard games, notably World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor; then, earlier in 2020, she became the first female conductor to ever perform at the Academy Awards. This year, Noone and Garfinkle are likely to win the award for ‘most notes in a single film score,’ because Two By Two Overboard is one of most frantic, busy, raucous scores I have ever heard – and it’s also terrifically entertaining.

The whole thing opens with a genuinely lovely song, “Stand for Hope,” performed by Irish vocalist Sibéal Ní Chasaide, the melodic content of which re-occurs later in the score as the theme for “The Colony”. Everything else is a mad cacophony of themes and influences that assault you from every angle and whip around from cue to cue with reckless abandon. In lesser hands this could all be a recipe for a migraine, but Noone and Garfinkle somehow tame all this madness and make it a madcap comedy experience filled with a ton of energy and a lot of heart.

Some of it has the friendly, welcoming air of a John Powell animated score (“Unclean Cuisine”), there is bold seafaring Debney-esque adventure music (“Exploring the Wild Blue Yonder,” “Stormy Weather,” “Monster Waves,” “Monster Theme”), comedy shenanigans with more key changes and mickey mouse shifts in tempo than you can shake a stick at (“Dave’s Introduction,” “Temperature Rising”), light action sequences (“Jumping into the Food Storage,” “Catching a Thief,” “Bridge Escape,” “Eruption”), mock pageantry (“Robes for the Ceremony,” “Leah Saves the Day”), bold heroism (“Evacuation Plans,” “Saved”), several moments of pathos and real emotion, and even upbeat carnival-style fiesta sequence in the conclusive “Dance of the Nestrians”. One or two cues feature a running gag where the music ‘winds down’ like a broken machine, before coming back to life a moment later. The amount of instrumental variance and clever orchestration in all of this is really very impressive indeed.

Anyone with a low tolerance for rapid shifts in tempo, tone, and style may find Two By Two Overboard just a whole lot of too much, but I for one appreciated the dexterity it took to pull this off as well as it has been. There are some really lovely colors and moments of bombastic adventurous spirit in this score, and it’s especially pleasing to see Eímear Noone starting to make a name for herself as a composer, alongside her already impressive conducting career. The score is available as a digital download through Redrocca Records via most good online sources.

Track Listing: 1. Stand for Hope (performed by Sibéal Ní Chasaide) (4:04), 2. Dave’s Introduction (3:30), 3. Unclean Cuisine (1:42), 4. Exploring the Wild Blue Yonder (2:27), 5. Jumping into the Food Storage (5:21), 6. Sharkey’s Tune (1:39), 7. Delightful Jelly/Seasick/Stormy Weather (4:10), 8. Monster Waves (1:31), 9. Lost/Nestrians Incoming (2:44), 10. The Colony – Stand for Hope Theme (1:27), 11. Robes for the Ceremony (1:52), 12. Colony is Settling (2:06), 13. Temperature Rising (3:03), 14. Walk the Plank/Caught/Jelly’s Theme (3:11), 15. Are You A Chicken?/Monster Theme (3:14), 16. Catching a Thief (3:09), 17. Bridge Escape (3:13), 18. Now You’ve Done It/Eruption (2:36), 19. Evacuation Plans (3:42), 20. Saved/Jelly’s Truth/Gloating (6:30), 21. Airborne/Leah Saves the Day (3:22), 22. Heavenly Cloud/Heroes Come Back (1:14), 23. The General/Epilogue (1:49), 24. Dance of the Nestrians (1:08). Redrocca Records, 72 minutes 01 seconds.

 

PERMETTE? ALBERTO SORDI – Paolo Vivaldi

Permette? Alberto Sordi is an Italian TV movie biopic directed by Luca Manfredi which takes a look at the life of the eponymous actor and singer, who over the course of a seven-decade career established himself as one of the most popular and successful icons of Italian cinema, notably through his numerous collaborations with Federico Fellini, and his work on films such as The Best of Enemies, for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy in 1963. The film stars Edoardo Pesce as Sordi, but unfortunately was not well received by the Italian media, who criticized the film as a ‘failed imitation’ of Sordi’s life.

One aspect of the film that was not criticized was its score, by Italian composer Paolo Vivaldi (no relation). Vivaldi’s depiction of the character is light and frothy, good-natured, and soundly rooted in Nino Rota’s legendary music for Fellini’s early films. The main theme, “Piacere, Alberto Sordi,” is a warm and friendly orchestral piece built around a recurring melody that moves between oboes and trumpets, and has a bouncy circus-like feel. “A Spasso Con Fellini” is jazzy and languid, with lovely central woodwind melody that feels like a stroll in the sunshine. “Tema di Andreina Pagnani” is a gorgeously lilting saxophone jazz piece with echoes of John Barry.

Elsewhere, “La Famiglia di Alberto” is a wonderfully comic brass piece that brims with more Rota vibes; “La Maga di Federico” could have been a rejected cue from The Godfather, and “Amori di un Tempo Lontano” features an enticing trio for violin, accordion, and guitar, that is just sublime. However, for me, the emotional core of the score is the gorgeous pair “Tema di Mamma Maria” and “Papà Pietro Se Ne Va,” which couldn’t be more longing or nostalgic if they tried. The central violin melody of the former melts into your eardrums like honey, and has echoes of some of Ennio Morricone’s most evocative themes, while the latter sounds the Italy of your dreams, a haunting blend of piano, strings, and accordion.

Permette? Alberto Sordi is a beautiful score, by far the best of the half dozen or so scores by Paolo Vivaldi that I have heard to date. Anyone who has ever appreciated the warmly appealing evocations of the Italian heartland by composers like Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone will be drawn to this score immediately; as such, I was greatly moved by Vivaldi’s lush and emotional themes from the get-go. The score is available as a digital download via the Rai Com label.

Track Listing: 1. Piacere, Alberto Sordi (3:11), 2. A Spasso Con Fellini (2:13), 3. Tema di Andreina Pagnani (2:38), 4. La Famiglia di Alberto (1:42), 5. Tema di Mamma Maria (Orchestral) (3:16), 6. Piacere, Alberto Sordi (Orchestral) (1:34), 7. La Maga di Federico (1:09), 8. Papà Pietro Se Ne Va (4:08), 9. Amori di un Tempo Lontano (1:40), 10. Alberto Lascia Milano (2:14), 11. Ave Cesare, Stop! (0:53), 12. Tema di Mamma Maria (1:36), 13. A Spasso Con Fellini (Orchestral) (1:06), 14. La Famiglia di Alberto (Orchestral) (1:51). Rai Com Music, 29 minutes 11 seconds

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  1. January 26, 2021 at 9:01 am

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