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Going back to the 1990,s in fact to 1995 for this Compact disc release, billed as a tribute to Ugo Tognazzi, it contains selections of cues from three of the actors movies. IL COMMISSARIO PEPE music by Armando Trovaioli, SLENDORI E MISERIE DI MADAM ROYALE music by Fiorenzi Carpi AND SISSIGNORE with music courtesy of Berto Pisano. All three scores are perfect examples of Italian film music from the late 1960,s and the early 1970,s. IL COMMISSARIO PEPE is for my money probably the better of the three soundtracks included here or at least the most entertaining, but this is only because like most of his scores Trovaioli includes so much rich thematic material which leaves the listener thinking how could so many great themes possibly come from one film score, the orchestration of this occasion is remarkably refined, the composer utilising, laid back Hammond organ, whistling from Alessandroni, luxurious sounding stings and easy going saxophone solos that in turn are complimented by polished piano performances a song WE’LL KEEP TRYING performed by Lydia McDonald who also wrote the lyrics. Plus there is the flawless vocals of Edda Dell Orso, what more could you want? To try and identify a stand out track is impossible because every cue is a delicious and riveting listen. However I was rather drawn to track number 7, WALTZ THEME in which harpsichord is used to great effect along side romantic and lush strings and also track number 8, LOVE THEME, which is what is says a beguiling and sensual piece with steamy Hammond organ, harpsichord flourishes and underlying passionate strings that are present throughout but never overpower or overplay the harpsichord. Track number 9, too is a text book Italian film music cue, with whistling, strings, jazzy saxophone percussion adding a rhythmic backing and again the harpsichord adding a great atmosphere to the proceedings. The score has since this release received an expanded edition release, but I am content with the 9 tracks I have here another triumph for Trovaioli.


SLENDORI E MISERIE DI MADAM ROTALE is next in the running order with music composed and conducted by a somewhat overlooked Italian film music Maestro, Fiorenzo Carpi, 7 cues represent his score on this release, which is to be fair quite a nice listen, with Carpi even providing a parody of the Spaghetti western score in the cue COME IN WESTERN, there are some nice touches within the score his use of woodwind and piano underlined by strings etc, the movie is a comedy/drama, which at times does not get its punch lines over to non Italian audiences, (its lost in the translation as they say). Carpi score however is an interesting listen and seems to musically dip its foot into every genre of film imaginable, western, period, dramatic and of course comedy and even if it does have a particularly annoying vocal it is still worth listening to too.


SISSIGNORE is next with the composing duties being taken on by Berto Pisano who is another unsung hero of the Italian film music world. This an upbeat affair for the most part with an opening theme which bares more than a passing resemblance to CLASSICAL GAS by Mason Williams. The film was a comedy written, directed and starring Ugo Tognazzi, Pisano’s score is suitably upbeat and at times chaotic, but also contains some nice less furiously full on moments, a jazz orientated flavour weaves in and out of the score with Pisano adding just the right amount of dramatic content and diluting this with little touches of comedic sounds before things get too serious.


Tracks such as TEMA DI OSCAR and JUMPING ON THE SAND are exhilarating and filled with great musical hooks to keep the listener interested plus there are cues such as SKI LIFT that contain an almost Count Basie sound and ATTIMO PER ATTIMO which has some wonderful saxophone work. Like IL COMMISSARIO PEPE, SISSIGNORE is filled to overflowing with vibrant and infectious themes. This is a fantastic compact disc and I notice is still available on certain shopping sites on the internet. It would be re-miss of me not to say GO AND BUY IT.



Originally released as part of the CAM SOUNDTRACK ENCYCLOPEDIA, PROFUMO DI DONNA, is in my humble opinion one of Armando Trovaioli’s most accomplished scores. It is also one his most haunting and infectious with every track yielding a theme that remains with the listener long after it has finished. The movie which was released in 1975 is based upon the novel DARKNESS AND HONEY by Giovanni Arpino. Two army officers are injured in an accidental explosion and are both blinded, they are so distraught that they will never again see that they make a pact to meet in Rome where they plan to commit suicide. However things do not go quite to his plans and on route to Rome he is accompanied by a young soldier and starts to realise that the love of a woman is still worth living for even if he cannot see her. Directed by Dino Risi, the movie blends light comedic touches with drama to great affect, Risi managing to combine the two successfully. Trovaioli’s score is a romantic and fairly easy going one, it has some of the most attractive thematic material within it and is a joy to listen to from start to finish, the composer fusing at times light and intimate jazz moments with that of lush orchestral passages and interweaving delicate and touching musical nuances between the two styles. Many of the cues are piano led with Trovaioli building upon the foundation of the piano to create wonderfully melodic compositions, on listening to the score one I think would image it to be a easy listening album with each and every cue being something of a triumph in its own right. It is also in my opinion very similar to the work of Morricone from the same period, but saying this Trovaioli certainly has an individuality and a sound that is undeniable his alone.


Re-issued recently on the Sugar label but with sadly no extra music (probably because there was none). The compact disc also features one of my own personal favourite Italian vocals CHE VUOLE QUESTA MUSICA STASERA performed by Peppino Gagliardi, with the orchestra being directed by another Italian film music Maestro Stelvio Cipriani. The original CAM release is probably quite scarce nowadays so I suggest you seek out the re-issue on the Sugar label. If you have not already got this it is one that you have to purchase ASAP……..A classic Italian soundtrack.

Wilfred Joseph's

Wilfred Joseph’s

This month is obviously the month for Remembrance, so I frequently think of a number of Films and Music scores that have special significance at the this time of year. THE WORLD AT WAR of course, a milestone in Television Documentaries, with a fine score by Carl Davis, but going back to the First World War, there is only one series of note , and that is the BBC ‘S THE GREAT WAR, made way back in 1964 when a great many of the combatants where still with us.


Although not blessed with a great deal of original music, the Mid Sixties documentaries didn’t use a great deal of especially written music, much came from Library music or the Classical Repertoire. so whatever Music Wilfred Josephs wrote was supplemented with Vaughan Williams etc. It was after all a 26 part series .That said his Main theme, dark and like the visuals descending to the dark void of hell that was the Western Front, was a fine piece of music in it’s own right . Indeed it catapulted him to a lifetime of writing music for Films and Television.

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Much later in the 70s, he formed it into a GREAT WAR SUITE, built up around three main themes. First is “The Start of the War” a almost jaunty piece showing the British Tommies marching off to War, full optimism, that the War would be over by Christmas. Lovely piece this, very characteristic of Joseph’s work, with almost North Country feel, Here as in most of his works, he was master of making a smaller orchestra sounding a lot bigger than it really was. We then descend into the Middle section. “The Great War” basically the music for the Main Credits , but here stretched out , but almost heart wrenching in it’s showing War’s total lack of humanity . Slowly, , very slowly we move into “The End of the War”, a joyous celebration ,a release for the Four Years of Hell. Here Joseph’s music incorporates Arne’s “O God our help in Ages Past” which I suspect was sung in every Church in the Land on the first Sunday when the War was over. Here using his own theme as Counterpoint with the Hymn is master stroke and never fails to make me realise how much of a genius he was.

This was the high spot of album released by Polydor in 1974 (Circle of Sound 2383 294) which also contained themes from CIDER WITH ROSIE, SUSPICION , BEN – GURION, WEAVERS GREEN and 24 HOURS TO KILL, all conducted by Marcus Dods. This, has never been available in a CD format.

Last year was the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and I thought , probably too late , that this suite would be perfect to played at the Proms. I wrote early on to the two leading Classical Music Magazines saying it would be ideal , and it would really kick up a storm to played at the this time. Of course, my letters weren’t published. Perhaps I was naive to think they stood a chance anyway.

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There seems to be a blind spot with certain composers either on the airwaves or in magazines or Compact Discs. Certainly Josephs comes into the this category. To a lesser degree Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Considering his output, there is a real lack of recordings available. Chandos bravely started a series some years ago A CD came out which contains some premieres and was received well. It was even promoted a s Volume One . We are still waiting for Volume Two

The neglect that has befallen Wilfred Josephs is even more scandalous. None of his Symphonies or larger works are commercially available. yet everything that Sir James MacMillan writes is out there, ditto Sir Harrison Birtwistle. These are the composers that the Prom’s laud as the great British Composers and no doubt well liked by the Promenaders, but to be honest, how music of their music is really listened too outside the Royal Albert Hall.

Is it that old problem, of working in the media that comes back to haunt? Josephs did stirling work, especially on Television. I recently caught PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the 1980;s version and his score was delightful. Not as in your face as Carl Davis’ score for the most famous and recent adaption, but quite delightfully small scale. Again, working with smaller forces, no doubt for budgetary reasons his music is delight from beginning to end.

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Some of the top shows from the Seventies had Joseph’s music : I CLAUDUIS, ENEMY AT THE DOOR, THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH, POLLYANNA , THE GHOSTS OF MOTLEY HALL and not forgetting the most famous , and controversial THE PRISONER. He even worked on HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR, an episode with the delightful title of CARPATHIAN EAGLE starring Suzanne Danielle..

A true original, and it should be said a very nice man, and whilst it doesn’t always go with the territory, I always enjoyed the brief chats we had when I was working on a TV Composer Book. He was down – to – earth and approachable, like his music and I like to think appreciated the interest in his music.

So next time you come across his music , in a film, a TV series, or maybe though I doubt it, on the Radio, stop and listen to a true original , a British Composer of distinction.

P.S. Pass it on!!




There are many composers who write for the cinema and television that are so talented but still seem to be overlooked by many within the industry and also by film music aficionados. I think that Marco Frisina is one such composer. Frisina has written numerous scores for movies and also television productions within Italy and of course because of his connections with THE VATICAN has also written a great deal of religious music. But it is his film and television music that attracts me the most although saying this I have found myself listening to his non cinematic works and becoming completely transfixed by his haunting melodies and moving compositions. My first recording of his was ALBA ROMANA-un omaggio a Roma. It was something of an awakening for me as I have to say I had not been aware of his music up until that time, I had returned from a trip to Rome and was somewhat mesmerised by the eternal city, plus it was at a time in my life that I found myself at a crossroads of sorts not knowing which way to go. I was given the recording and on the first listen found myself completely overtaken with so many emotions, the music washed over me and in fact it reminded me of my short but beautiful time in Rome. As I listened to the beguiling melodies I remembered the Spanish steps, The Trevi fountain, Trastavere, The tomb of the Unknown soldier, The Colosseum, The Roman Forum and Circus and of course the ultimate site of The Vatican which I found both inspiring and powerful. This hustling and busy city which can become a tranquil and soothing haven simply by turning down a side street into a piazza that contains a small church and a fountain is one of the greatest places in the world. Frisina’s touching and delicate music conjures up perfectly a city that has so many faces so many persona’s and such a vitality and at the same time posses a serenity that I do not think you would find anywhere else on earth.



The music for ALBA ROMANA is in a word stunning, the composer wrote a score that was brimming with lilting and rich melodies, majestic passages, romantic pieces and proud and celestial sounding cues, it is one of those works that one can just pop into the player and leave it never touching it, never skipping any tracks, just sitting and listening will enrich and reward you no end. Fully symphonic, with choir, solo vocals by Paola Cicchi, guitar solos, organ, strings and brass supported by percussion and also heartrending cello and viola solos that are affecting and mesmerising and I can only describe the performances as being painful in a nice way because there is so much emotion within them, this is a work that every one should have, it is a recording that will open many emotions within you, maybe also it will like it did me rekindle bittersweet memories that bring both happiness and hurt and bring a tear to the eye.


To say that Howard Blake has been taking things easy in the last few years, would be a total travesty. He seems busy as ever, with Concertos, Piano Music and various projects which seem to take him all over the Globe, but specifically I would suggest Europe and Far East. His latest CD has him teamed up with cellist Benedict Kloeckner called DIVERSIONS. Up and coming is a ballet he is currently working on, but certainly his work in the media has been noticeably absent in the last few years. That is till now

THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE is a song cycle based on Poems by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894). For me who grew up in the Fifties minus can you believe Television, his adventures were the stuff of young boy’s fantasies, KIDNAPPED, TREASURE ISLAND and a personal favourite THE BLACK ARROW. But for some reason his collection of poems A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES missed me completely by. The Counterpane in case you were wondering is a patchwork quilt into which each square contained a different story, and the young Robert breathed life into these patchwork squares by in later years writing a collection of poems

All this is fertile ground for a composer of Howard Blake’s imagination, for what he has done over a very long period of time is to write music to selected verses and whilst the classic THE SNOWMAN had only one song – and what a song- this has songs spread through the entire 26 minute film – This I feel very canny for if sold to a commercial network, time to fit in the dreaded adverts.

HB Piano Angle

Having since the film only the once, I feel this is very much a review in progress, for as I write this I would really like to see it again, for like a lot of films, sometime you cannot appreciate all that is going on it a single viewing and I personally feel that with repeated showings ,it could come a very worthy successor to THE SNOWMAN , which sadly THE BEAR did not become, though I must admit, to be quite fond of that as well.

The animation is very cleverly accomplished for as we see the young Robert in his sick bed it is very much black and white, whereas once we are enveloped into his fantasies, the screen becomes a blaze of colour. Anyone who warmed to THE SNOWMAN will certainly like this,

The Choir is from the Pupils of Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh, recorded now and in 2007 at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Not a professional choir at all, they still bring a freshness and youthful vigour to the singing which is most commendable and enjoyable. I defy anyone not to enjoy the choral work on offer here

To be reading this you must have an interest in film music and those that appreciated Howard’s earlier scores like RIDDLE OF THE SANDS and THE DUELLISTS will find the same degree of understanding of what music in film and animation can inspire to. The narrator as Robert Louis Stevenson is David Rintoul and the music is played by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Howard Blake. The Epilogue spoken by Rintoul is a very emotional moment ,looking back into his life to find the boy that he was , no longer there. and for me, and I suspect for many, a highlight of the film.

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I sincerely hope that this in time will prove a worthwhile successor to THE SNOWMAN but in it’s own right. I should also mention that the illustrations by Mark Reeve and Animation by Emmett Elvin are first rate, and one can see, that this has been a labour of love for all concerned.

Whilst there seems to be no film assignment on the horizon , we can be grateful for the outstanding scores he has produced for film ‘s of such varying quality. Some classics as the aforementioned THE DUELLISTS and RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, and some like S.O.S. TITANIC which I would have loved to hear in the full longer film, certainly the one currently available is lamentably short. Then of course there are THE AVENGERS , scores for the some of the latter Linda Thorson epsodioes which show show imagination and even those early days, class

I often think that whilst there is no comparison as such background wise, he has a marked affinity with Andre Previn, both stated out working on films and pianist , arranger before going on to provide scores , highly regarded by their peers, and aficionados alike. Both felt, I suspect that the they both felt that need to write music that didn’t have someone talking over.

Both have accomplished that to a very high level for both composers can appeal emotionally to listener, for what else is music if you cannot get emotionally involved I still hope one day Howard will find a feature film that will utilise his undeniable talents for he has a keen dramatic instinct .Till then THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE will do quite nicely. Yes indeed.

John Williams


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