TRIBUTE TO UGO TOGNAZZI.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

PROFUMO DI DONNE.

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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.

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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 JOSEPHS, FORGOTTEN GENIUS?

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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.

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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!!

JOHN WILLIAMS