I am a great fan of music from Italian movies, I as many of you know have for many years promoted and championed the Italian sound that composers such as Morricone, Rota, Nicolai, Rustichelli, Fidenco, Romitelli and others achieved with original sounding compositions and their quirky and innovative orchestrations on numerous soundtracks that hailed from Cinecitta. I also tried to make sure that collectors were aware of the many talented soloists that were behind this unique sound. However there are a few movies that came from Italy that I must admit I just don’t like, this includes the genres of the Peplum and also films that have a period setting. I always felt that such movies were a little lack lustre and also the musical scores that were penned for these at times boring feature films were also less than riveting in the originality department. There were a fair few Peplum scores released on digit movies in recent years that have failed to outshine the great art work that adorns the compact disc covers, as I have already stated this is my own personal preferences here, Peplums are for me un-interesting and also very slow paced and to be blunt include some of the most wooden acting I have ever witnessed, so I suppose it is hard for composers to be inspired when faced with such material. Kronos records are due to release a trio of soundtracks all of which are from period or peplum genres, ISABELLA-DUCHESSA DEI DIOVALI is one of these, the score is composed by a Maestro who I feel is very underrated, Sante Maria Romitelli. The film itself sounds interesting but there again I cannot profess to have seen it. When Duke de Frissac refuses to give in to the ambitious and threatening Baron Von Nutter’s request for his land and titles Von Nutter plots against the Duke and assassinates him. But the Baron is unaware that the Duke’s young daughter Isabella is witness to the murderous act. The child is rescued by the loyal Melicour and raised by him amongst his fellow gypsies. Isabella never forgets the murder of her Father and also the coward who carried out the act and once she is grown into a beautiful and fierce woman, The Duchess Of The Devils strikes back to avenge her family and reclaim what is rightfully hers. Romitelli, s score which has never before been released in any format reflects perfectly the period in which the movie is set, and the composer utilizes to great effect harpsichord and strings that evoke an atmosphere of romance and also eloquence. The pairing of harpsichord and strings is one of the main foundations of the score and the instruments re-emerge throughout the proceedings and on each outing reaffirm the period sound, which is dramatic and romantically laced with a hint of the baroque.
The score also includes a number of gypsy violin solo’s these at times I must admit sound more like Hebrew influenced tracks but are nevertheless effective and at times heartfelt and highly emotive, then at other points within the work the violin is handed a more upbeat melody which does posses a gypsy influenced sound or at least what we perceive to be gypsy inclined. The work contains interesting instrumentation via the use of soft woodwinds and the sparing use of electric guitar as more of a background and supportive tool within the work, either underlining a musical passage or punctuating it. Romitelli also employs a fuzzy sounding guitar within the work and in a handful of cues makes good use of choir that relays at times a military mood to the listener but also later in the score alters to a more sacred and reverent sound. Organ too is used on occasion, only sparingly and momentarily at key moments within tracks that are of the more tense and atmospheric variety. The composer also provides the score with a few galloping tracks, timpani and percussive elements combine to create an up-tempo backing and the composer then introduces a lone horn into the equation which is both dramatic and melancholy in its sound and presence. So ISABELLA-DUCHESSA DEI DIOVALI could be the exception to the rule when it comes to music from period dramas. It is I have to say a pleasant enough work and one that I also have to say I listened to through twice, there are dramatic and tense moods present here and also there is a real sense of romance and sumptuous luxury within the work. I many ways the central theme reminded me somewhat of SEDUCED AND ABANDONED by Carlo Rustichelli and also had many of the qualities that manifested themselves within IMPERIAL VENUS by Lavagnino. This is one to watch out for, it is available for pre order now, but does not get its official release until June 28th. Great cover art work and nice clear sound another good release from Kronos.
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