Released on Kronos Records July 2016.
Composer, Scholar and Monsignor Marco Frisina was born in Rome in 1954, when he reached the age of 11 he decided to teach himself how to read and write music. It was also at this time that the young Frisina began to play the piano again this was something that he taught himself to do. He began then to study music at the Conservatory of Saint Cecilia where many other notable Maestros from the world of film music in Italy also studied. After he graduated from the Conservatory he also began to take up theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University and then earned a certificate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute and was ordained as a Priest in the April of 1982. His musical talents are not restricted to films and television, he has written numerous pieces for the Vatican which include, Operas, Songs, Masses, Hymns, Oratorios and recordings which are dedicated to Saints and Pontiffs. Frisina has also throughout his career in music collaborated with a number of high profile artists and composers the most prominent being Maestro Ennio Morricone on a handful of scores for television and cinema.
The story of MICHAEL STROGOFF is a popular one and also is a tale that has been committed to celluloid on more than 30 occasions either as a television project, a silent movie or as a feature film, the first of these was a silent version produced in 1914 and was made in The United States. Based on the novel from 1876 by Jules Verne, it is a tale of high adventure, filled with action, drama and romance. The book when first published was hailed as the best story that Verne had written. The musical score for this production is every bit as adventurous, exciting, fast paced and dramatic as the storyline itself. The soundtrack being filled to overflowing with haunting melodies, fearsome action cues and brimming with affecting leitmotifs that accompany and introduce the main characters within the story. Marco Frisina’s score is an epic sounding work, which is grandiose and robust but at the same time has the ability to become intimate and melancholy possessing a fragility that is attractive, emotive and powerful. The Maestro providing the production with a lush and imposing soundtrack that at certain points within the proceedings evokes the Style and the atmosphere of the vintage movie soundtracks of Hollywood. The opening theme for example is a rousing, strident and proud sounding piece, written for brass and strings that are underlined by the introduction of rumbling percussion which together set the scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. Frisina’s theme for the Tartars is also impressive, driving strings that are embellished by percussive elements and timpani and driven on harder by the utilization of wild brass and flyaway woodwind that are punctuated by crashing cymbals, the composer creating an urgent and unmerciful sounding piece. Then we have the theme for Strogoff’s wife NADIA which is a text book Frisina sounding composition, a delicate and beautifully written melody is carried by the string section and underlined and enhanced by lilting woodwind and harp and mid way through the piece there is a stunning guitar solo that picks out the core theme, the cue then changes mood and becomes less melodious taking on a more sinister and threatening persona which is purveyed by sinewy strings and ominous and apprehensive woodwind. Frisina’s soundtrack is somewhat different to what we have become accustomed to from the composer, yes there are a number of striking thematic moments present but it is has to it a darkness and a greater sense of foreboding in places and an underlying ambiance that can be likened to scores from Eastern Europe. The composer utilizes the Balalaika at times which reminds one of the sound that is achieved by Maurice Jarre in Dr Zhivago. There are so many themes and addictive melodious passages within the work it is hard to take them all in on first hearing the score. The composer utilizes a number of solo instruments throughout the work to bring forth a richness and a lavishly emotive sound which invades the soul and lingers in the subconscious. This is demonstrated perfectly in track number 6, CANTO TZIGANO, solo viola is accompanied by woodwind and then gradually given support by the full string section treating us to a mesmerizing and stunning piece. Track number 8, NEL CUORE DI MICHELE is also a standout cue, Frisina again turning to the solo guitar which we heard briefly within NADIA,S THEME, this time however it is accompanied by highly romantic strings with the support of subdued percussion. The music has up until now only been available digitally as a download, this edition released by Kronos records being the first actual compact disc release of the score.
Released in December 1999, MICHELE STROGOFF-IL CORRIERE DELLO ZAR (MICHAEL STROGOFF,MICHEL STROGOFF) was an Italian/German and French co-production made for television that had a running time of just over three hours but was edited down to two hours and twenty minutes after its initial release. Directed by Fabrizio Costa it starred Paolo Seganti in the title role who was supported by Lea Bosco as Nadia and Hardy Kruger jnr as Ivan Ogareff.
John Mansell. Movie Music International/IFMCA.