Another release in the ever expanding catalogue of the renowned record label KRONOS, is THE BOY AND THE LION a television mini series that was released in 2013 but although it is a relatively recent release there is very little information about the production. The score by composer Stelvio Cipriani has been available as a download for a while but at last Godwin Borg has given it a compact disc release which is most welcome. The score is in many ways similar in style to the sound achieved by French composers Francis Lai, Michel Magne and to a degree Francois de Roubauix and has hints of Michel Legrand. To say that Stelvio Cipriani belongs to the higher archy of the iconic school of Italian film music composers is certainly and understatement. His music has enthralled, delighted and also intrigued many collectors and fellow composers of music for television and film. It is at times quite mind numbing to think that this film music Maestro has written the scores to over 200 movies and his music has not only supported but ingratiated all of these giving them a greater impact and a heightened dramatic elevation. He is a composer that began scoring pictures in the early 1960, s in his native Italy and like so many other composers who were working in film at that time began with a Spaghetti western soundtrack entitled THE BOUNTY KILLER. During this period when the Italian western was beginning to gain momentum and attract attention from audiences and critics alike it was quite easy to label Cipriani as a composer that was like others at this time mimicking the style and sound that had been created and achieved by Maestro Ennio Morricone, but this would be unfair as there is far more to Cipriani’s music than just the quirky sounds and instrumentation that is associated with the genre of the Italian produced western. He has during his career created highly volatile themes for war movies, lilting and affecting tone poems for romantic films and also turned his hand to scoring some of Cinecitta’s most notoriously scary and gruesome horror pictures as well as providing the musical accompaniment to the aforementioned western genre and fashioning atmospheric scores for numerous Giallo films, soft porn escapades, comedic adventures and police capers. So he is a composer that is well suited to the terminology of being CHAMELEON like as he can easily adapt his style and sound to each and every project he is involved with. In recent years the composer has become increasingly involved in the writing of religious music for the Vatican but has never turned his back on film scoring or indeed his love of jazz and the piano. THE BOY AND THE LION is a movie that in many ways is obscure to a great many collectors and cinema goers and I have to admit that it is a score that I was unaware of as being within Cipriani’s filmography, indeed it is not listed within his list of credits, or if it is it is listed under another title that is totally different from this one.
The soundtrack is a pleasant enough work, the composer relying predominantly upon a central theme on which he builds the remainder of his score. In fact, the majority of the music for the movie is variations upon the core theme, the composer arranging and orchestrating the main thematic property and repeating it in various guises throughout. However, the composer does this in such a way that it remains fresh and entertaining upon each outing.
The style that Cipriani employs here is one of a light and melodic fashion which utilises Piano, harpsichord and strings which become the mainstay of the work with synthesiser acting as support, the composer treats us to a romantic and rich sounding theme with piano taking the lead in many instances, and later embellishes the instrument with the use of a light and meandering harpsichord that is supported and further enhanced by subtle strings the composer at times adding an emotive sounding electronic background which seems to give the conventional instrumentation more power and grace. The central theme contains fragments of music that evoke the composers wonderfully romantic ANONYMOUS VENETIAN theme and also there are shades of his PIRAHNA 2 score which occasionally make an appearance, it is not only an effective work but has the ability to linger within ones sub-conscious long after one has finished playing it. The score also contains a number of synthetic attributes which complement and fuse seamlessly with the symphonic instrumentation and at times take the lead in certain areas of the work, but more often than not the composer binds the two mediums together to create a rewarding and pleasant listening experience.
When listening to THE BOY AND THE LION one cannot help but be reminded of the composers past triumphs and draw comparisons with his other cinematic soundtracks. Percussive elements are present throughout creating a subtle but noticeable pulsating background which acts as a foundation to the central musical content and also purveys an African sounding beat giving the work more ethnic textures and colours. Also present are a handful of cues that contain a style that is apprehensive and dramatic FEAR IN THE JUNGLE, HIDING IN THE JUNGLE and THREAT IN THE JUNGLE rely upon the use of electronic sounds and synthetically generated rhythms to create a sense of danger, fear and foreboding. Although this is a score that is not one of the composer’s high profile credits it is one that will delight followers of Cipriani and maybe attract attention from others. I do hope that Kronos Records will continue to release more of his work in the future.