A BRIEF SEASON Una breve stagione Melodic Morricone #29
This series is inspired by a controversy thread where someone posited the idea that besides THE MISSION and some Sergio Leone westerns Ennio Morricone hasn't written anything great. Rather than making my usual comment that most of Morricone's great scores are from Italy and trying to get Americans to listen to them is like getting them to see movies with subtitles, I decided to take another tact. Since I am at an age where I will only be able to make my case a finite number of times I decided to turn this into a series presenting each great score one at a time, sort of like recordman.
For those who are thinking that Morricone is not the person to turn to for melody and that surely we turn more to Henry Mancini and Francis Lai for such things, think again, and don't call me Shirley. Sarah Brightman took a melody of his and added lyrics for her album, twice. Celine Dion also did the same thing once. K. D. Lang, Mina, Denyce Graves, Vanessa, Daniela Mercury and Renee Fleming have done renditions of Ennio's work. International recording artists like Milva, Mirelle Mathieu, Edda Dell'Orso, Amii Stewart, Dulce Pontes and recently Hayley Westenra have recorded albums of nothing but Morricone songs, arranged and conducted by Morricone. And that's just the women! Bear Family actually did four volumes of entirely Morricone songs and the big surprise for me was how many of my favorites they left off. Here's one:
The score for A BRIEF SEASON is pure romance. The film was known for being the 4th of the 5 film career of actor Christopher Jones which started with WILD IN THE STREETS and ended with RYAN'S DAUGHTER. It seems David Lean chose to dub his voice in that and forgot to tell him (As much as I admire Lean, Kubrick, Hitchcock, etc. the more stories I hear of them the more they seem capable of being pricks). But A BRIEF SEASON was about an American stock broker who absconds with the funds and is sent to jail in Rome. He escapes but a guard is killed. So this Brief Season of love he has with his girlfriend played by Pia Degermark (who had an even more tragic career with drugs and jail) is the time until the authorities catch him. It's pure old fashioned love story time from director Renato Castellani who started directing in 1942. This wonderful score was released only once on LP on the Sagittario label and once on CD (unexpanded) on the Legend label. I have the feeling the original tapes are not out there so I feel this score needs a special spotlight. Morricone wrote many songs for an incredible number of films including LA CALIFFA(#2), LE DUE STAGIONI DELLA VITA (#14) and INCONTRO whose song in French is known as "Melodie".
Ah, this a lovely melody from the Maestro, let down by one thing ...
... awful sonics - as usual - from the Legend label. How does this label do it so often? Do they only go for scores no other label will release because of the quality? Or do they use mastering techniques left over from the days of the Romans?
I jest, of course. It is highly listenable, has a gorgeous melody (perhaps a little over-used by the time the score ends) and is a million light years away from its companion score (on the CD) ... La Violenza: Quinto Potere (also of questionnable quality).
The score does include some darker - heavier - material (which seems even darker when compared with the melodic material) and there is some choral work, too - very pleasant. But it is the main tune and the guitar work which really attracts.
Again, I've not seen the film but for lovely music like this ... who needs to?