Looking back a few years its just a personal opinion but I think that Andrea Morricone’s musical score for Barry Levinson’s LIBERTY HEIGHTS is probably one of the most underrated and overlooked works for cinema but at the same time is one of the most emotive and accomplished. Yes it contains many of the touches and quirks of instrumentation that we associate with Maestro Morricone senior, but it also has within its framework a sound and style that is undeniably original. Its plaintive and delicate sounding central theme acts as a firm foundation for the remainder of the score and is not a million miles away from the sound that Andrea achieved in his haunting theme for CINEMA PARADISO, piano, flute and strings being the primary instrumentation with the composer adding later heartfelt violin and viola and a lilting guitar solo to great affect.
This is a haunting and wonderfully affecting soundtrack that displays perfectly the artistry of Morricone Jnr and shows us that he is more than capable of establishing his own identity and musical fingerprint. There are also gentle nods in the direction of composers who have played a major part in creating the sound of Italian cinema such as Nino Rota with a melancholy sounding violin performing a theme that would not be out of place in say Zefferelli’s ROMEO AND JULIET or Fellini,s LA STRADA. The themes within the score are many and varying and combine to create one of the most melodic and stunning film scores from the latter part of the 1990,s. Every track on the release is a joy to listen to, every cue filled to overflowing with emotion and brimming with sensitive thematic material, we hear echoes of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and AMERICA and short fleeting references to other classic themes. The movie too was noteworthy with director Barry Levison helming it with much conviction and obtaining solid performances from its cast. Set in the 1950,s in an America where things were changing this dramatic comedy is an appealing and convincing account of Baltimore in 1954 where school desegregation was beginning to happen and rock and roll music also started to rear its head to the annoyance of the older generation. Andrea Morricone provides the movie with a poignant and beautifully delicate musical touch that enhances and supports without ever being intrusive but at the same time manages to elevate and underline each and every one of its scenes and situations. If you missed this one, its about time you tracked down a copy and just immerse yourself in its affecting and highly melodious content.