There are many new releases of soundtracks every month, I think now with the various streaming services more than ever, and of course there are also so many re-issues, some with extra music others just straight re-releases of what was available before. Gone are the days of seeking out the various soundtracks on CD in the many record and CD shops instead its easier to just type and click the details into ones PC and up they all pop. Which made me think about soundtracks that newer collectors might had missed out on, which may not have made it to the likes of Spotify or Apple Music and the quality and wealth of music that comes from the Italian produced western.

note the lack of credit for Bruno Nicolai?

Its surprising that some of the younger recruits to the ranks of movie music collecting might not have experienced the spaghetti western score, yes of course almost everyone is aware of the music of the great Ennio Morricone when it comes to Italian westerns, but what of other composers who were also active within the genre and were equally responsible for establishing and developing the sound of that genre and created a whole new way of scoring westerns.

Many of the scores from Italian productions have eventually in one form or another made it to CD during the past three decades, and some titles proved very popular especially if they were the work of known composers such as Morricone, Bruno Nicolai etc.

In this article/review I will list a few of these and try to persuade newer collectors of film music to savour them you never know they might for a few minutes stop applauding Hans Zimmer, and move away from the soundscapes and drone like hums and crashes, but I doubt it. I suppose the best place to start is with the CD releases on the iconic soundtrack label C.A.M. and those that were issued as part of CAM’s Soundtrack Encyclopaedia, which initially included one hundred titles.

One of the titles was Los Amigos (1973) or Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears, as it was entitled outside of Italy, the movie starred Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero and was a really good movie which had a robust and interesting score by composer Daniele Patucchi, now although this is a Spaghetti western it was a little different when it came to the music, there were no real stock sounds from the genre included in the score and it is more or less a Hollywood sounding soundtrack, with the composer opting to use brass, percussion and strings in the main, the score did however include two good songs, the title track The Ballad of Deaf and Ears and also Even if you’re not the First one, both of which had lyrics and were performed by Anne Collin with music provided by Patucchi. The score included instrumental versions of these also and a scattering of dramatic and quite bombastic sounding cues.

With the music sounding more like Bernstein and Goldsmith in places, this was a straight LP (issued in 1973) track to CD release containing no extras for the compact disc which was issued in 1991, and was like so many of the CAM first CD releases notoriously short in its running duration which was just over thirty minutes, but the music is worth adding to your collection.

It was one of very few spaghetti westerns that had an LP release outside of Italy with the soundtrack appearing on EMI in the UK. Patucchi also scored movies such as Black Killer and Death Played the Flute both released onto CD by Hillside/GDM.  

Another, release from CAM was one that carried on the practise that CAM had begun back in the 1960’s of releasing two scores on one LP which was good news for collectors, the CD release contained Adios Gringo (1965) and Un Dollaro Tra I Denti (For a Dollar in the Teeth) (1967) aka-Stranger in Town, the latter being the first in the trilogy of movies in the stranger series of movies that starred Tony Anthony.

Both scores were the work of composer Benedetto Ghiglia, who also created the music for El Rojo, and Four Dollars for Vengeance, and were not what we know as traditional Spaghetti western scores, if traditional is a word in the vocabulary of the Italian western soundtrack. Ghiglia who was an already established composer of film scores was known for experimenting with percussive sounds within his soundtracks, and in a way, he successfully invented his own unique sound to accompany the very few westerns he scored.

The CD for Adios Gringo and For a Dollar in the Teeth was released in 1996 and had a running time of nearly an hour, it again is certainly well worth listening to as both scores are inventive and innovative and a look into the musical world of the Italian western before the sound that we are now familiar with established itself.

Another movie in the stranger series was A Man, A Horse, and A Gun, Shoot First Laugh Last or The Stranger Returns. The now iconic soundtrack was written by Stelvio Cipriani. I say iconic mainly because of the score’s central theme, which was covered by so many artists throughout the world including Henry Mancini and LeRoy Holmes. The theme being quite simple and sparse sounding but straight away conjuring up the feel and atmosphere of a western. The soundtrack was issued on a CAM LP originally as the B side to Charles Dumont’s score for another Italian western The Belle Starr Story which sadly has never been released onto CD.

The premiere CD release of Cipriani’s score came as part of the first batch of the Cam Encyclopaedia and is now long out of print and rare, but it was then re-issued by CAM as a three score CD which also included selections from the Cipriani’s first western score The Bounty Killer, as well as a few tracks from Nevada, a lesser known  western from Italy, again released in the Cam Encyclopaedia series but in a later set of discs.


I think the reason for a re-issue quickly was that CAM had received so many complaints about the short running time of the score which was under thirty minutes and there were so issues on the sound on a couple of the tracks. The three-score compact disc is worth having to appreciate the talent of Cipriani, but if it is a fuller version of A Man A Horse and a Gun you are wanting then the definitive edition must be the Hillside/GDM release. Which contains the long version of the theme which was for some reason missing from both CAM CD releases, even though it was featured on the original LP. The Hillside release also features the original artwork from the LP release which is stunning.

Stelvio Cipriani wrote numerous inventive scores for westerns and his music for the movie Blindman  is certainly one for your collection, as is his music from They Call Me Hallelujah both of which are on a par with the quality of A Man A Horse and a Gun.

Other titles in the first batch of C.A.M releases included in the CAM Encyclopaedia came in the form of Corri Uomo Corri by Bruno Nicolai, and The Price of Power by Luis Bacalov, two names who were thought to be pseudonyms for Morricone at one point.


But of course, we know that is not the case as both were talented Maestro’s in their own right and have since the early days produced many original sounding works, Baclov also being responsible for the music to Django, A Man Called Noon, Bullet for the General, Gold for The Bravados, The Grand Duel, Sugar Colt and many others.

With Nicolai creating scores for movies such as The Bounty Hunters, Django Shoots First, Dead Men Ride, Gentleman Jo Uccidi, 100,000 Dollari Per Ringo, Landraiders, (not an Italian Western), El Cisco, Shanghai Joe, and others.


Another soundtrack in the famed CAM series was Man Pride and Vengeance, which was sold as a western when it was issued on LP but in fact is a movie about a bullfighter and is a dramatic romance set in Spain, which had a score by Carlo Rustichelli, who contributed many scores to the western genre, such as Revenge at El Paso, Un Treno Per Durango, Dio Perdona io No!, Buffalo Bill L’Eroe Del Far West, and The Ruthless Four.

I am sure if CAM had concentrated upon releasing just westerns in the series in the initial batch it would have been more lucrative for them, instead they focused more upon the music of Nino Rota which although were all classic scores did not seem to attract the attention of as many collectors that the thought it would at the time which was in the early 1990’s. Since those early days of CDS there have been so many re-issues and definitive edition releases it is hard at times to keep track, and with Sugar music now reissuing so many titles out of the CAM catalogue, I am sure it will become even more confusing.


So that is why I am focusing on westerns at this time, and some of the titles I will mention are available at Hillside CD production, which has always been a forerunner in stocking Italian movie scores especially westerns. Ballata Per Un Pistolero, is a great western score penned by Marcello Giombini, and probably one of the less known titles. The score is fast paced and filled with so many of those sounds that we readily associate with the spaghetti western genre, racing timpani, trumpet solo’s, guitar riffs and strings driving all these elements forward, the composer also employing organ to great effect and adding little nuances and quirks of orchestration that could only come from an Italian western.

As well as these familiar sounds there are also flourishes of symphonic themes that evoke the style of Tiomkin, and Newman, but it is essentially a spaghetti score that is overflowing with themes and inventive compositions. This was released onto CD by Hillside GDM and is deleted but can be heard on digital platforms, In, my opinion it stands alongside Giombini’s Sabata, scores in the entertainment department and is more dramatic and has to it a rawer sound.

Scores by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino for the western genre, were always entertaining, even if they were not pure spaghetti sound as invented by Morricone and Leone, but they had to them solid and haunting themes and the composer was very inventive in utilising strange sounds and introducing quirky orchestration on certain projects, these included titles such as The Specialist, The Man With the Golden Pistol-aka-The Man Who Came to Kill, Kill the Wicked, Vendetta Per Vendetta, and Trusting is Good, Shooting is Better.


All of which contained strong scores, he also scored movies such as Requiem for a Gringo, Sfida a Rio Grande, Today, it’s you Tomorrow Me, and Sapevano Solo Uccidere. His style was at times more Hollywood than Cinecitta his scores containing a grandiose sound that evoked the style of American western soundtracks at times.

Gianni Ferrio has been represented well on CD and is a composer who like Benedetto Ghiglia invented his own brand and style when it came to scoring westerns. Ferrio mixed jazz influences with symphonic atmospheres to create a sound that was to become popular with fans and critics alike. His score for Quei Disperati Che Puzzano di Sudore e di Morte is not only atmospheric but contains driving and intense pieces throughout, the composer employing Spanish guitar, organ, harpsichord, strings, percussion, and brass to purvey a sense of high drama.


The composer also integrated Mexican mariachi sounds into the work which were affecting and atmospheric. The score was originally released by Cinevox on LP record who later re-issued the score onto CD. And more recently have issued an expanded edition of the soundtrack containing much more music. Ferrio also worked on films such as Djurado, A Few Bullets More, Heroes of the West and Fast Hand which contained the song That Man, all are well worth a listening to see the extent of his influence within the spaghetti western genre.

Other interesting scores by Ferrio as in westerns, include the superb Find a Place to Die, Sentenza Di Morte with its unusual but effective title song The Last Game, El Desperado, and Amico Stammi Lontano Almeno Un Palmo, which also had a serviceable title song Let it Rain Let it Pour, Fort Yuma Gold, and California. All of which were made available on compact disc.   

The musical world of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, is at times an acquired taste, but mostly a rewarding listen, the composers fusing a folk like sound with symphonic passages and adding guitar and vocal performances, we all now They Still Call me Trinity, The Man From The East and scores such as Valdez Horses and the infamous score for Keoma the Violent Breed.  

But let us not forget the entertaining music for Tedeum, Mannaja, and Zorro which I still count as a western.


Talking of Zorro there was another version of the story which was filmed about the same time as the version scored by De Angelis, this outing for the masked avenger was scored by Gianni Marchetti, who worked on a handful of Italian made westerns, and produced an adventurous and melodious score for the movie, which was released on a CD that contained excerpts from two other soundtracks that were composed by Marchetti.  Going off topic just for a sentence or two,

I also recommend Marchetti’s One Step to Hell which although not a western but set in Africa contained a score with so many western references it is a must have for any Italian film music fan it was issued by Hillside CD production and GDM.

His score for Seven Red Berets too is a must have and released on CD by Kronos records. The score for this was originally released on a CAM double soundtrack LP the other score being Cowards Don’t Pray or Taste of Vengeance, a western which was also scored by Marchetti. This was also re-issued in expanded form onto compact disc on the GDM label in 2006.


Michele Lacerenza is well known as an accomplished trumpet player, it is his performance we hear on scores such as  A Fistful of Dollars and Il Malamondo by Morricone for example.

But Lacerenza was also an accomplished composer and worked on a handful of westerns in the 1960’s, most notably L’Ira di Dio, 100 Dollari Sul Nero and 20,000 Dollari Sporchi Di Sangue, all three scores are iconic and were all produced and released by Hillside CD production and GDM with re mastering by Roberto Zamori. Lacerenza’s superb trumpet performance on Johnny’s Theme from 1000 Dollari Sul Nero becoming a part of the history that has built up around the Italian western score and synonymous with the genre.

The soundtrack also contained the song Necklace of Pearls performed by the late Peter Boom who also performed the song for Corri Uomo Corri and told me in interview that Morricone conducted the score for Nicolai.       

It was also Lacerenza who performed the trumpet solo for Nora Orlandi when she scored Ten Thousand Dollars for a Massacre, an excellent score, which was released by CAM and is now available on digital platforms, as is her score from Johnny Yuma.

Carlo Savina too has produced some wonderful scores for westerns as in Comin at Ya,(A 3D Western), Joko Invoca Dio E, Muori-aka Vengeance, and Ringo and his Golden Pistol all of which were released onto CD.


Angelo Gioachino is a composer who scored early Italian westerns, and these included Three Dollars of Lead and The Damned Pistols of Dallas both of which were originally CAM LP releases, both soundtracks have been re-issued onto CD and have become quite hard to get in recent years. Although the sound realised for both movies lean’s more towards an American sound rather than a European one.

However, they are still interesting examples of western scores from Italy and for fans and collectors of everything Spaghetti are must have items. Robby Poitevin is another composer that worked on spaghetti westerns, with scores for movies such as A Name Cried Vengeance, Killer Calibro 32, Odia Il Prossimo Tuo, and Little Rita of the West standing out.  

If I were to be asked to pick a theme that epitomised the Italian western score, I think I would have to say it would be Gunmen of the Ave Maria, which had a score composed by Roberto Pregadio, and Franco Micalizzi, it is a theme that is literally crammed full of all the stock sounds of the Italian western score, whistling by Alessandroni, choir courtesy of Il Cantori Moderni, electric guitar solo, and a soaring trumpet performance by Lacerenza,

Its all there and it’s a score that if you do not have you should get asap. The score was originally released on Hillside/GDM, again re-mastered by Roberto Zamori and produced by Lionel G Woodman. And was paired with They Call Me Trinity also by Micalizzi and Pregadio and featuring the now famous song as performed by Annibale. Both scores have since been re-issued in expanded editions. And other scores by Pregadio such as Four Pistols for Trinity, L’Ultimo Killer, Un Buco In Fronte,  and Micalizzi’s Sacremento were also made available on compact disc.


Nico Fidenco I have to admit is one of my favourite composers when it comes to Italian westerns, To the Last Drop of Blood, One More For Hell and Bury Them Deep immediately come to mind as do The Texican, In the Shadow of the Colt, Dynamite Jim, A Taste of Killing, and John Il Bastardo, most of these were released on Hillside/GDM in wonderfully clear crisp sound.

John Il Bastardo I think stands out because of its style, a style that is maybe a watered down Morricone sound, with barking male choir and racing timpani electric guitars and trumpet solos, Fidenco, taking a more pop orientated approach to scoring westerns rather than operatic and grandiose as Morricone did. Let’s not forget in Italy during the 1960’s westerns were in production 24/7 and even though Morricone was a genius it would have been impossible for him to work on every single one of them, so directors and producers asked composers such as Fidenco to write in a style like that of Morricone.


Also worth a mention are the many western scores of Francesco De Masi, Quella Sporca Storia Nel West, Seven Dollars on the Red, Vado L’Ammazzo E Torno,Ringo Il Volto Della Vendetta, Arizona Colt and so many more. De Masi like the majority of Italian composers working in the western genre very often included a song within his scores,

Find a Man for example performed by Maurizio de Graf in Quella Sporca Storia Nel West and The Man from Nowhere from his classic score for Arizona Colt, De Masi also often utilised the artistry of Alessandro Alessandroni, on whistle and guitar and made effect use of Alessandroni’s choir Il Cantori Moderni.



I always felt that Francesco De Masi like many other composers who scored Italian westerns often fused styles and whilst one can hear that the music is from a spaghetti western it also retains much of the grandeur and the sweeping symphonic prowess of movies such as High Noon and The Bravados.

Composer Nino Oliviero also penned the score to a western entitled Ringo Del Nebraska, Oliviero was the collaborator with Riz Ortolani on the score for Mondo Cane which included the international hit song More.

Then we have Lallo Gori, who wrote the music for westerns such as Buckaroo, Tequila, Black Jack, and Con Lui Cavalca La Morte. And another great Piero Piccioni, who like Ghighlia and Ferrio, did not conform to the stock sounds of the spaghetti western score, but instead fashioned his own unique style, that was at times jazz influenced, his scores for movies such as The Deserter, Minnesota Clay, In the Name of the Father the Son and the Colt, A Gun in the hand of the Devil, Sartana, and others are still to this day fresh and appealing.

As well as the few titles I have mentioned, I should also put into the equation the scores from Italian westerns or westerns scored by Italian composers that have still not received a release. Gods Gun by Sante Maria Romitelli, for example, the composer’s music for Spara Gringo Spara being an essential purchase for any film music connoisseur. Other unreleased scores include The Hunting Party and Ciakmull-Man of Vengeance by Ortolani, Seven Guns and Seven Brides for the McGregor’s by Morricone, El Puro by Alessandroni, The Stranger in Japan by Cipriani, Cemetery without Crosses by Hossein, The Belle Starr Story by Dumont, A Man Called Sledge by Ferrio, are just a handful of worthy titles that should be released onto compact disc if the tapes still exist that is.

And the scores of Felice De Stefano, which are classic in every sense of the word. Then there is the work of composer Vasili Kojucharov which are filled with so many of those familiar stock sounds of the Italian western score, such as God is My Colt 45. Pino Calvi’s incredible score for The Revengers, (which deserves a re mastered release) was his only western score as far as  I can see, and he is not alone in the one western score club, Armando Trovajoli’s excellent The Long Days of Vengeance was that composers only excursion into scoring a sagebrush saga, Pippo Franco too scored just one Italian western L’odio E Il Mio Dio, and I am sure there are more examples, whilst composers such as Piero Umiliani, worked on a handful including The Son Of Django.

The titles included in this article just scratch the surface in the world of Italian western film music, as there are so many more that you could explore, some of the titles mentioned are still available in very limited quantities from outlets such as Hillside CD production who run an excellent mail order service.

(see list below for titles they currently have in stock.).



















MARCHETTI-ONE STEP TO HELL.* not a western but very good score.











For this article I am taking you back to 1993, and to a release that I feel was an important one for collectors of Italian film music. It was also a landmark release for a new label as it was their first time in the production market. The CD release was The Adventure Film World of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis and the label was what we now know as Hillside, this release being issued under Soundtrack Deletions, which was Lionel G Woodman and Hexachord records which was the label of Roberto Zamori. It was an important release because the music for Keoma-The Violent Breed which is basically the headline act on the CD had never been released before. And at this time the thirst for spaghetti western soundtracks was still rife, I think it still is but there again has the interest and the popularity of the genre and its music ever faltered, No. When the CD was released I had already experienced a number of the De Angelis brothers soundtracks, the majority of which were very different from what also had come out of Italy as in film music.

They invented their own unique musical sound for all types of movies and the western with the soundtracks for They Still Call Me Trinity, Mannaja, Valdez Horses, Man from the East etc, and also excelled in writing quirky compositions for the comedy films that featured Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, I also had savoured their music in other genres of movies like Afyon Oppio, Torso, Violent Rome, The Violent Professionals, and so many others. I think it is They Still Call Me Trinity that I remember the best, but their Keoma score stuck with me for many a year and I think this was due mainly to the unique vocals on the score.

So, to have the music on CD at last was a gift a treasure and as well as Keoma the CD contained music from three other movies that De Angelis had scored, none of which had been released at that time, I am sure. The remastering of all four soundtracks was the work of Professor Roberto Zamori, a giant in Italian film music and a man whose passion for music drove him to preserve and keep safe the wonderful film score heritage of Italy, never once allowing himself to take priority over the music and also never taking credit for what he was doing. A humble man and an accomplished professor of music Roberto was a driving force in Italy concerning film music,


I say was because we sadly lost him earlier this year. He will be forever missed by all who knew him personally and professionally.  His passing has left a void in the music business as there is literally nobody to step into his shoes, although there are a few who think they can, but let us make it quite clear Roberto was a one off, his work being polished and flawless, and cannot in any way be compared with the pretenders of today who give themselves fancy titles for doing nothing.


The CD contained 25 tracks, 9 of which came from Keoma, and included two vocal performances In Front of my Desperation sung by Guy, and the title song Keoma performed by Sybil and Guy, the latter being an alias for Guido De Angelis. The music was by De Angelis with the lyrics penned by Susan Duncan Smith and Cesare De Natale, in the movie the songs and their innovative performances played a large part of the story telling with the performances acting like a Greek tragedy telling the story as it unfolds.


The remainder of the tracks were made up of instrumental versions of both vocals and a saloon sounding cue Piano and Bier, plus a particularly catchy piece Dusty Banjo. Like so many of the composing duo’s scores for westerns Keoma contained a folk like style which they enhanced and bolstered with symphonic flourishes and their own brand of country and western. The movie itself was met with mixed reviews but overall true fans of the genre saw it as a worthy addition to the collection. It is probably one of the most absorbing spaghetti westerns ever produced. Directed by Enzo G Castellari and starred Franco Nero. It is a movie that deals with many issues, civil rights for example, racism, a ranting witch and inter family fighting which pits brother against brother. The director was known to be a fan of Sam Peckinpah and tried to emulate the filmmaker in his own directorial outings as is displayed in the likes of Keoma with the use of slow-motion sequences when gunfights take place.

There are also references to the bible with the hero portrayed as a Christ-like figure crucified on a wheel, and a symbolic conclusion which warns of fascism. So more than just a western but saying that most Italian westerns had an underlying message and referred to particular political leanings or beliefs of the director, which most audiences did not pick up on.  The next section of the CD is dedicated to Il Cacciatore Di Squali (Shark Hunter), which opens with a gentle but upbeat vocal performance by Sharks, (which is a pseudonym for Guido and Maurizio). It’s a pleasant opening that take a while to get going but eventually does and is a rewarding listen, with a nice saxophone solo mid-way through, that the composers underline with a more pronounced percussive backing, that builds to create an infectious foot tapping cue. The remainder of the selection is typical sounding De Angelis, pop orientated and up tempo, which in some ways is like their work on the Dogtanian animated series and Around the World with Willy Fog, so light and melodic haunting and easy listening slanted.

There are 6 cues from the score included on the release and these purvey drama, romance, and have at times a Hispanic flavour to them. The movie was helmed by Castellari and released in 1979, again it starred Franco Nero, the movies focus is upon Mike (Nero) a shark hunter a mysterious man whose past nobody knows anything about, not even his woman Juanita. An expert diver named Acapulco arrives who immediately befriends him, but has an ulterior motif because Mike is the only one who knows the position of a plane that sank with a hundred million dollars and soon the hunt is on, but this time it is not sharks that will be hunted. A fairly run of the mill adventure with De Angelis music supporting and underlining the drama.


The next selection is 5 tracks from Arrivano I Vostri, which is a documentary about western movies directed by Isobel Bruno. The score is delightful and has so many themes as well as a great vocal America, performed by Guido and Maurizio.

The last section is 5 tracks from Il Grande Oceano di Captain Cook which was a 1987 movie directed by Gianfranco Bernabai, the music is varied and uplifting, and contains some emotive and poignant melodies, as well as two vocals performed by The Trappers. This is an interesting and also an important release, which is sadly now long out of print and rare indeed. Maybe a re-issue will come along soon, but if it does, please do not forget the sterling work that Roberto Zamori did for this wonderful collection of music from Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. And if it should say remastered by any one else, question it.


Composer George Kallis has over the past few years established himself as a composer who is not only talented and gifted in creating rich and thematic film scores, but also has become a composer who film music collectors and fans look to for inventive and innovative soundtracks. One of his recent assignments is First Love, which is a beautifully crafted work that beguiles and mesmerizes via its delicate and affecting compositions, it is a score that is brimming with emotion, overflowing with poignancy and possess deep emotive musical foundations on which the composer shapes and builds the remainder of his ingratiating score. His haunting tone poems are filled with a fragility that one cannot fail to be affected by, the light and melodic airs are like wispy soft strokes from a paint brush that is adding colour and texture to a canvas, the composer drawing his simple but absorbing notes from a palette that is crammed with so many notions and creative auras.

The score is a delight to listen to, it purveys a sense of fragility, and conveys a heartfelt and heart melting sound. The music is low key and understated but makes a lasting impression upon one. The score is performed in the main by piano and strings, with the composer introducing a sprinkling of electronic support here and there in cues such as Could’nt be Brighter, which for me had to it a slight nod to the work of both John Barry and Basil Poledouris, The theme rising but never fully developing fully thus leaving the listener on the edge of an emotion that has been building.

In other cues such as Big Changes,  Empty House, and A Funeral the composer fashions music that is totally consuming because of its high level of emotional content, the latter utilizing the cello to create a melancholy musical persona.

With Empty House tugging at the heart strings via its charming and enchanting solo piano performance. The cue I Don’t Hate you is one of those rare moments in film music when the music envelops the listener even if they are not watching the movie, it floors you and gives you chills and teary eyes. The score is one you should add to your collection, it is a work of quality and one that I am confident will be returned to many times after the initial listen. Highly recommended and available on digital platforms.


The soundtrack release and re-release program continues and as always turns up a few welcome and also some rather unexpected film scores for our listening pleasure or otherwise. When I say unexpected, I probably actually mean soundtracks that I stumbled upon whilst looking at something else, normally these accidental discoveries are scores that are inventive and interesting and because unexpected become even more so in both of those departments. The latest batch of soundtracks throughout June have been varied if nothing else, but that is being a little unfair as most of the new scores are well worth a listen, and although some maybe not exactly innovative they serve their purpose and serve the picture they are attached to well. Film music these days is somewhat predictable and becomes even more so it seems with scores from the Untied States.

Soundtracks such as Disney’s Lightyear, for example are very good as in rousing and do a great job in enhancing and supporting the picture, but is it a score that throws us film music fans something fresh? No not really, and this is not meant as a slight upon the music that Michael Giacchino has written, because I must say again it is a good score, filled with copious amounts of thematic material that encompass edgy, relentless, and richly thematic music that is most fitting for its central character. It has too it a grandiose but melancholy sound and is a work that I have already added to my collection. Giacchino has a large fan base and his scores are always entertaining and popular, his work for the Star Trek franchise for example is stunning, as is his scores for movies such as Up, The Batman, Spiderman No Way Home etc, and he is a composer I feel who can be at times done down by critics and film music collectors alike.

His score for John Carter is wonderful and works so well in a movie that was less than impressive. Lightyear is a work that has to it solid and infectious themes and exciting action pieces that are interwoven with lilting and homely sounding passages as in the cues, A Hyper Failure and Lightyear’s Behind which are both emotive, with the composer utilising an affecting short piano solo in the latter.

The cue A Good Day to not Die I feel is a fusion of a style we associate with the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, and maybe also purveys a pinch of Goldenthal and definitely more than a liberal helping of Giacchino, when you hear it I am sure you understand what I am saying.

The reference to the style of Goldsmith is also evident in the cue Mission Perpetual, which is a track that slowly but surely builds to fashion a proud and anthem like musical persona.  So, it’s a score that maybe not innovative but its an entertaining musical ride filled with an abundance of twists turns and ups and downs. It’s on digital platforms and certainly worth a listen.

Another score that I was drawn to was Good Luck to you, Leo Grande, which is the work of Stephen Rennicks, who previously scored Normal People, (2020) The Little Stranger (2018) and Room (2015) and has also scored Conversations with Friends this year for TV.  The music for Good Luck to you, Leo Grande, is quite a simple work the composer creating delightful tone poems performed by strings and solo piano, the fragility and charm of the compositions becoming lodged in the listeners mind because the melodies are so haunting, and its simplicity making it easier to process and giving it a lingering and affecting aura. Also on digital platforms, via the Movie Score Media label. go take a listen.

Highway 395 is a 2000 movie, and the score is the work of Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, the music is edgy, apprehensive and at times quite atonal, the composers experimenting with sounds and layering soundscapes to create a highly atmospheric work. However, I have to say I was not at all excited by the score at all, it sounded like it was following a repetitive and samey track all the way through, and yes hats off to both composers for their efforts, but it’s a score I tired of after cue three, becoming restless and looking at the forward button the player. As it as I have already said sounded much the same throughout for me never really taking off.  I am sure if you are a Beltrami fan you may like it, but not for me.

Chiara is an acclaimed movie directed by Jonas Carpignano and is being hailed as one of the most important Italian movies in recent years. It tells the story of Chiara who is a fifteen-year-old girl, who along with her family is abandoned by her Father in Calabria. Consequently, the family breaks down. The score is an atmospheric affair and is the work of Dan Romer and  Benh Zetlin. I am not going to say that this is the most melodic soundtrack, because it is not, the composers rely more upon hints at themes rather than full blown musical statements, it’s a score that seems to hover in the background, never overpowering but also not really making any impression, but this is the sign of a score that works, because if you go to the cinema and watch a movie and do not notice the music over the drama etc on screen then that score has done its job. Check it out on the likes of Spotify.

Based on the book: Bobby the Blessed and the other American written by Emil Andreev in 2015. The Blessed is a tale of pure love, priceless medicine and an accidental meeting with the future president of the USA – John Kennedy which changes the life of a man. Music for this 2020 motion picture has just been made available on digital platforms and is well worth a listen, the composer George Strzov, wrote a wonderfully poignat and lyric score for the movie, which is performed predominantly by the string section that bolster and support a heartfelt solo piano performance throughout, the score also has to it darker and more foreboding musical connotations, in which the composer employs scatterings of percussion, woodwind, choral moments and restrained brass. The music is at times sombre and low key, but retains a modicum of melancholy, and romanticism throughout, worth a listen.  

Donde Habitan los Secretos, (Where secrets Dwell) is a drama from Chile. It focuses upon a married couple in crisis, Luz and Esteban who decide to spend a weekend at their country house. Once there, alone in nature, far from their daughter and their lives in the city, they must face the secrets that each one hides and that threaten to destroy their relationship. Music for the movie is the work of Rene Calderon, this too is a score that is realised mostly via piano, with the composer adding woods to bring to the surface the highly emotional qualities of the music.

It’s a small-scale score, but one which is overflowing with poignancy. There is one cue that is out of character with the remainder of the score, Palea de Ambos is darker and more sinister sounding the composer using choral like sounds to purvey a mood that is threatening or fearful. Take some time to find this and give it a listen.

Tico Martini: la légende de magny-cours is a 2022 documentary, that tells of the sixty-year relationship between Tico Martini an Italian migrant, mechanic. Manufacturer and Trainer and the once small village race circuit that has for over seventeen years now hosted the Formula one French Grand Prix and gave birth to a technopole of excellence.

To tell the story of one of them you must also tell the others story, because they are inseparable and intwined. The musical score is by accomplished composer Maximillen Mathevon, and like so many other documentaries that he has worked on the music is the driving force and the foundation of the film.

This is an upbeat soundtrack which at times sways towards a more rock orientated style, it’s also a score that oozes infectious sounding passages and boasts a plethora of themes, at times it evoked the style of the Italian made western, but only briefly with its electric guitar performances, there is also a definite retro sound present with eighties styled synths etc performing up tempo pieces throughout an essential purchase and available on digital platforms via Plaza Mayor. highly recommended.

Plaza Mayor have also released, Broadway by Gabriel Yared, and this too is available on digital platforms.

Laura Karpman, has recently triumphed with her music for Marvel’s What If, which was aired last year. She is now performing composer duties the latest Disney+ and Marvel Studios series, Ms. Marvel which had its premiere on June 8th. It introduces a Muslim teenager Kamala Khan to audiences who is living in Jersey City in the USA. As well as being a gamer she is also a fan of superheroes. Which is a volatile mix especially when you think that you are not fitting in at school and are unhappy at home. The full score is not yet available, but a suite has been released on digital platforms, which is breath-taking and displays the sheer talent and inventiveness of Laura as a composer. The full soundtrack is due for release on two volumes the first being on June 22nd which will cover episodes from one to three and then a volume two that cover episodes four through till six will be released on July 13th. Well worth listening to that suite to get a taster of what’s coming.

Also released is Spiderhead by Joseph Trapanese, For all Mankind by Jeff Russo, Lancaster by Chris Roe, and Dark Entities by David Vest.

That’s all folks.


Marco Werba.

June 10th 2022, and a chance for a rare trip to London and a scoring session at the renowned Angel studios in Islington, which are now part of the Abbey Road family. The film being scored was The Island of Forgiveness directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ridah Behi which stars Claudia Cardinale, as Agostina, Katia Greco as Rosa and Paola Lavini as Elena. The movie is produced by Ziad Hamzeh, Nicole Kamato, and Ridha Bedhi.

Marco Werba Conducting the ESO.

From what I could make out from the scenes I was seeing when the scoring was taking place it is a commanding drama that contains scenes that are powerful, romantic, and emotive. The score is the work of the Spanish born award winning Maestro Marco Werba who lives and works in Italy and has been doing so for many years now. Many collectors will already be familiar with the Maestro’s film scores and his wonderful gift of melody within them. He at times took to the podium during the sessions and conducted a sixteen-piece orchestra made up of strings from the English Session Orchestra ( with cello playing an important and affecting role within the score at key points, its somber but captivating sound adding an alluring atmosphere that is filled with passion, romance, and poignancy.

Michele Catania.

Other sections of the score were directed by composer Michele Catania who orchestrated some of the music and was on this occasion assistant to Marco Werba, he was assisted by Nicolo Braghiroli with the preparation of the scores and the parts for the musicians. . As soon as I heard the first cue, I knew that this was going to be a special day and one that would be filled with emotive and beautiful music.

Watching the scenes being scored was a thrilling and enriching experience, because seeing the film scored like this also allows one to see and hear just how important music is in movies, there is no dialogue or F/X just the images and the music being performed live to picture. In many ways watching the images with just the music is probably more emotive and affecting because there are none of the normal distractions such as dialogue or even the sounds in the theatre when you are watching the movie. The music is the prominent factor that is embellishing and underlining the emotions and actions that are being played out, rather than being a background to these scenes. The music that Marco Werba has composed for The Island of Forgiveness is eloquent, sophisticated, and deeply moving and from my point of hearing contained hints of the sound we associate with composer Ennio Morricone in movies such as Cinema Paradiso and had the same emotional impact of the work of another Italian Maestro Nicola Piovani in movies such as Life is Beautiful.

There is an aura and a sound present within Marco’s music that is totally consuming and wonderfully beguiling, at times it conveys a strong spiritual persona, that is inspiring and truly hypnotic and recalls the style of French composer Georges Delerue for the films of esteemed filmmaker Francois Truffaut such as The Woman Next Door. Despite these references, Marco Werba has his own style his own individuality and his own unique musical fingerprint that can be recognized through the various works he has written.

The music for The Island of Forgiveness has to it a freshness, but also possess familiarity purveying warmth and richness, which in turn creates highly emotional, intimate, and beguiling moments.

The Maestro slowly and precisely adding various levels of emotion, placing fragile and delicate melodies beneath sequences, adding colour and texture to these, his music never overpowering the storyline but instead empowering and ingratiating it and the images upon the screen. The composer’s music however is never merely a background to events but becomes an important and integral component of the overall cinematic experience, his compositions create an abundance of emotions and express numerous senses whether these be dramatic, or filled with melancholy and romanticism, but every time become affecting as well as effective.  I spoke to the composer about the movie and the music.

 JM.How did you become involved on the movie

M.W. One year ago I was in touch with producer Ziad Hamzeh for a film by a woman director, but the collaboration with that director didn’t move forward. Two months ago Ziad called me to propose to me the feature drama “The Island of Forgiveness” by tunisian director Ridha Behi, who has worked in the past with Nicola Piovani and Jean Claude Petit, and I immediately accepted.

He told me that they had financial problems and that I would need to find a music publisher who would be able to finance the film score. My previous score (“La Grande Guerra Del Salento”) had been financed by Kevin Ferri (Crisler Music/Soul Trade Music Publishing Group) and I proposed him to become the music publisher of this movie. He accepted. I told him that this movie would deserve to have a high-quality orchestra and that it would be wonderful to record in London with the “English Session Orchestra”. He accepted.

A few years ago I had been a guest of Dom Domalos Kelly, manager of the orchestra, during the recording session with Christian Henson for the British sci-fi movie “Robot Overlord”, at the “Air studio”, and I was really impressed by the quality of the performance. Now I finally had the chance to work with them.

J.M. Did the director have any specific requests regarding the style or sound for the movie

Good question. Director Ridha Behi is very intelligent and has good taste. It’s not easy to work with him because he is a perfectionist (like me) and loves to experiment various  solutions before choosing the definitive ones. He then asked for various options and various changes. He is one of that rare category of directors who don’t want to have too much music  in his movies. This is a choice that I respect because most of the directors I have worked with (except Cristina Comencini and Aurelio Grimaldi) have always asked me for a lot of music. 

Music is important but you need to know how to dose it well. I always give this example to the composition students I had in some masterclasses: Caviar is precious, but if you give it in large  quantities it loses its preciousness. For this film the only request from the director was to not write a Tunisian style music with Arabic instruments. I therefore wrote a dramatic music theme in various versions, two more themes and two waltzes (one was used in the film, the other will be included in the CD). There is only one composition (The Burial – L’enterrement), in which there’s a Middle Eastern flavor. Bruno Di Stefano then wrote a few short additional compositions for the movie. 

Riccardo Rocchi.

J.M. At the sessions there were the string section which I heard, were there any other instruments utilised on the score?

Yes, a Classical guitar performed by my trusted collaborator Riccardo Rocchi, a mandolin performed by my assistant Michele Catania,who also orchestrated and conducted some of the music, a piano that I performed and a few sampled instruments, Timpani, snare drums, recorder etc.

JM. How did you enlist the performance of Ellen Williams.

Ellen Williams is an excellent singer. I heard her cover versions of “No time to die” and “Gladiator” and fell in love with her voice. Her performance of the title song “Rosa’s Song” for “The Island of Forgiveness” has been truly amazing. Probably the best performance I have ever had of a song. Ellen wrote the lyrics and she is therefore co-writer of the song.

Marco Werba with Ellen Williams.

J.M. How much music did you compose for the score.

Not so much, because as I said director Ridha Behi didn’t want to have too much music in the film. I think we have more or less 30 minutes of music, but it is inserted in the most important scenes and well balanced. I would like to thank the “English Session Orchestra” for the beautiful performance, Ellen Williams for her  amazing performance, Sound engineer Marco Streccioni and his assistant Gabriele Conti per the great job they did, Michele Catania for all the work he has done, music publisher Kevin Ferri for the financing of the recording and Lanfranco Carnacina for his beautiful performance of the song “I Feel the Danger” that will not be used in this film. 

Gabriele Conti with Marco Streccioni.

The afternoon session began at around 14-10, and this was for vocal recordings, having already recorded the music the orchestra members were not present for this part of the sessions. The song that accompanies the movies end credits roll, was to be recorded the vocalist being Welsh Soprano Miss Ellen Williams, who has an amazing vocal range and such a pure and distinguished sound. I spoke to Ellen briefly before Marco returned to the sessions, and she told me she had also written the lyrics to the song and had even made a last-minute alteration to these on her way to the studio. Apparently, Marco had found her on You Tube and was impressed by her talents and wanted her to be involved on the project.

And speaking of this I suggest you check out her album on digital platforms entitled Cinema on which she performs vocal versions of movie themes and to look at her website click here  Ellen Williams | Welsh Classical Artist

Ellen Williams, Marco Werba and Lanfranco Carnacina.

I asked Ellen a few questions.

J.M. Are you a fan of film music, if so, have you any favourite themes or composers apart from Marco Werba of course?

E.W. Absolutely, I grew up listening to Classic FM on the radio and the array of soundtracks they often play. I’ve always been captured by how the music fills a suspenseful pause in films and really brings all the emotion and drama of the storyline to life. I love the music of Hans Zimmer and John Williams. I think one of my favourite themes of all time would probably be the theme form Schindler’s List. 

J.M. You wrote the lyrics for the song that you performed, is writing lyrics something you have done before?

E.W. I love to write in not only English and Welsh, but also Italian, French and Spanish, and so when Marco asked me to write the lyrics for the song I got straight into meeting with producer Ziad Hamzeh to really understand the sentiment of the film and compose something meaningful. In December 2020 I recorded a new lyric to traditional Welsh folk song Suo Gân, which Spielberg featured in the film Empire of The Sun. The track was a reflection of all that was happening in the world at the time with the Covid19 pandemic at a peak, and I was delighted to see people connect with the song, which went to number 1 in the UK Classical Charts. 

J.M. The score will be released on CD and would think on digital platforms eventually, will there be a single release of the song?

E.W. We are currently in the process of discussing releasing Rosa’s Song as a single.

Ellen Williams.

J.M. What is next for you another film soundtrack?

E.W. The biggest project I’m currently working on is a new album, a collection of hymns and songs to inspire hope and faith which will include rousing renditions of Abide with Me, Amazing Grace, beautiful Welsh hymn Calon Lân, and World in Union. 

Her performance was truly breathtaking, as she performed, we sat in total silence not moving, transfixed by her beautiful voice. The song is a vocal version of Rosa’s Theme, which is the thematic foundation of the work. it is a haunting piece which is heard in various forms throughout the movie. The song had to it a Gaelic sound or Irish lilt which was effective adding an ethereal ambience to it. As well as the end title credits song, Ellen performed a wordless vocal for a section of the score, this was for a dramatic and impacting scene in the movie, her part was brief but its quality outstanding. The power of Miss Williams soaring vocal combined with the richness and drama of the orchestral performance act as support and punctuation for the sequence, but also elevate and add greater depth lending a wonderful atmospheric to the scene, heightening the sense of drama and tragedy adding an operatic aura to the scene.

Lanfranco Carnacina and Marco Werba.

After Miss Williams had concluded her performance, they recorded another song, “I Feel the Danger” but this was for a movie that will not be released until 2023, the music and lyrics are penned by Marco Werba the vocalist being the famous Italian singer Lanfranco Carnacina, the story of this and the score for the movie I hope to tell you soon after the recordings in Rome. I will say that it was a polished and fixating performance, and Lanfranco was as we say in England the life and soul of the party. I want to add that I have been to a few recording sessions, and this I think was the most relaxed and friendliest and will also be the most memorable for me. My thanks to Maestro Marco Werba, and his wonderful group of friends and associates that were present making this one of the most enjoyable days ever. Also, many thanks to the staff and management at the Angel studios, who made everyone welcome and were always on hand to advise and assist.

Also present were Massimo Privitera of Soundtrack City and who’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious, Lionel Woodman of Hillside CD production, Jaques Dejean of Plaza Mayor Music Publishing, and at the mixing desk the Maestro of sound Marco Streccioni who has recorded and mixed nearly five hundred scores for film and television, working with many famous Maestro’s including Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov. He was assisted at Angel studios on this day by Gabriele Conti.

Marco Streccioni, Marco Werba and Jaques Dejean.

Thanks also to the brilliant members of the English Session Orchestra.  w:   fb: /EnglishSessionOrchestra   ig: englishsessionorchestra   tw: @LondonOrchestra  ,

© MMI/John Mansell.  2022.