The music for Italian cinema is an area that just seems to ooze melodic excellence and is overflowing with innovative ideas and talents in the form of composers, soloists, choirs and conductors. Riz Ortolani for example is a composer who was born in Italy and spent most of his life writing music for Italian productions, but Ortolani also managed to create enough interest via his highly original and haunting scores to become noticed and utilised by film makers outside of Italy. A score that Ortolani became known for was MONDO CANE which boasted a title theme entitled MORE which ended up being one of the most recorded songs in the history of music thus far. What is sadly overlooked on numerous occasions is that Ortolani was not solely responsible for this hit number, he was aided by composer Nino Oliviero, who has written a number of scores in his own right. One of these is the excellent soundtrack for LA MOGLIE GIAPPONESE. Originally released back in 1968 on the RCA Italiana label Kols-1001, THE JAPANESE WIFE to give it its English title contained a soundtrack that was a fusion of numerous styles, easy listening, smooth jazz, romantic and neo-classical colours and textures all combined to fashion a soundtrack that is in a word stunning. The composer Oliviero utilised the talents of Edda dell Orso to provide the sultry yet beautiful sounding wordless vocals and also engaged conductor Robby Poitevin to not only direct the orchestra but also to have a hand in arranging and possibly orchestrating some of the music for the movie. For some reason at the time that the album was originally released collectors did not really go overboard for it, which is surprising as it at times mirror’s the style of Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and Luis Bacalov with its simple but affecting tone poems that entice and mesmerise throughout. It is in my opinion a typical Italian score for this genre of movie from the time period, the 1960’s were a particularly fruitful period for Italian composers and for Italian cinema overall. This being mainly due to the success of the Italian western and later the Giallo films that became so popular around the globe. LA MOGLIE GIAPPONESE is basically a soft porn movie, which the Italians seemed to produce in their abundance during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The style employed by Oliviero can be likened to Morricones METTI UNA SERA A CENA (LOVE CIRCLE) with subdued and light sounding samba’s working their magic throughout the score, the composer arranging or slightly altering the central theme into fresh and vibrant sounding interludes that although have the same thematic sound are on each outing different.
It is a pity that the score did not generate more interest when it was originally released, because in my opinion it is one of the many jewels in the crown of Italian film music and should be regarded as one of Oliviero’s most inventive and melodically developed works for cinema. It is a soundtrack that I am sure no self-respecting collector of Italian film music will ever tire from, with its harpsichord flourishes, sassy saxophone solos, tuneful trumpet solos, breathy woodwind passages, elegant organ pieces and also not forgetting the wonderfully exquisite vocal performances of Edda which are soaring and flawless. Mix these elements with a jazz or big band sound and we have here a recipe for success. If you need comparisons or scores that it is similar to well,,,, SEASON OF SENSES-Morricone, THE INSATIABLES-Nicolai, FEMMINA RIDENS-Cipriani, CUORI SOLITARI-Bacalov, SCACCO ALLA REGINA-Piccioni and to a degree Allessandroni.s AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE LOVERS OF PEYNET spring to mind. All I know is if you are Italian film music fan then this is for you, no question. The original LP record contained 12 tracks from the soundtrack, the CD release on GDM has 29, 17 of these being bonus cues taken directly from the score, the first 12 representing the original LP release. This is a great soundtrack and one that should be savoured and given the credit is so deserves after all these years.