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 Posted:   Mar 12, 2011 - 3:53 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

EL GRECO
Spanish Morricone
#43


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.

Tales of the ancient Spanish Empire have inspired many a grand movie score. Miklos Rozsa's EL CID and Alfred Newman's CAPTAIN FROM CASTILLE are two primo examples. Now Morricone's EL GRECO isn't about warriors so there isn't an EL CID march or "Conquest" around to compare it to but I would say his main theme can hold it's own against their main themes any day of the week:





Suffice it to say this was the most ambitious film by Luciano Salce, the director who discovered Morricone on THE FASCIST and kept him working for quite a few years until Leone got to him. So he gave his best to the man who saw talent where others did not, and this was the crowning jewel. Unfortunately Salce wasn't all that talented and this odd biographical film of the great 16th century Spanish painter from Greece centered more on his run-in with the Spanish Inquisition than the painting. Mel Ferrer did an admirable job as "El Greco" and the supporting cast includes Rosanna Schiaffino, Adolfo Celi and Fernando Rey. Cinematographer Leonida Barboni (DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE), Costume Designer Danilo Donati (AMARCORD, ROMEO AND JULIET), Art Director Luigi Scaccianoce and, then, set decorator Dante Ferretti (SWEENEY TODD, GANGS OF NEW YORK) did a masterful job of getting the color schemes of this film to resemble those in El Greco's paintings. Still the film flounders.

But fortunately Morricone never does. He goes the Delerue path of parlor music and festive dances. The Rozsa echoes of having them strummed on ancient instruments. He has liturgical choruses, a fanfare and also does the full orchestral route on that main theme and the Hollywood drama of "Follia e amore,""Angoscia e ricerca #2" and "Nascondersi". So this is one score where the expansion has a distinct advantage.

This score was conducted by Franco Ferrara who made a career conducting for Nino Rota and Mario Nascimbene and does an impressive job here.

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 Posted:   Mar 12, 2011 - 4:21 PM   
 By:   Sirusjr   (Member)

See this is one of the few Morricone scores I actually enjoy because it feels more like a traditional score than many of the more experimental instrumentation used on his other scores. El Greco is quite a beautiful score smile

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 12, 2011 - 8:05 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

See this is one of the few Morricone scores I actually enjoy because it feels more like a traditional score than many of the more experimental instrumentation used on his other scores. El Greco is quite a beautiful score smile

He does this more than you think. MARCO POLO, METELLO, I PROMESSI SPOSI and even MUSASHI runs along very traditional lines.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 13, 2011 - 3:02 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

El Greco is another of those scores which first came my way courtesy of the old vinyl LP compilations ... a short (approx. 1'20") piece which is absolutely gorgeous.

On the back of this I purchased the RCA double-header (with Giordano Bruno) and was surprised to find a lot of choral work. An enjoyable album but I had to be careful when I played it ... if not in the right mood I found it very tedious and I simply longed for that short beautiful melody. Indeed, I think I preferred the accompanying score more.

Despite any misgivings I purchased the GDM remastered, expanded edition and found it to be a much better listening experience. The sound quality is vastly better and the extra music, rather than being just variations of the existing themes, include some quieter solo guitar pieces and the score is nicely balanced. Far from being a favourite but certainly a welcome album.

Another film I have not seen. I note, Morricone, that you comment that Mel Ferrer performed his role well. I recall that the RCA sleeve notes are less than complimentary: something to do with him being yet another US actor past his best seeking out a role in the European film industy ...

 
 Posted:   Mar 13, 2011 - 4:55 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

See this is one of the few Morricone scores I actually enjoy because it feels more like a traditional score than many of the more experimental instrumentation used on his other scores. El Greco is quite a beautiful score smile


The subject matter dictates only a few valid styles for this film. You could go Renaissance, romantic or Baroque, maybe post-impressionist, but you have to stay 'classical' to some extent.

More people should examine Morricone's concert stuff, which is not so sparse as his film work. For some reason, his concert audience and his film audience seem to be two different species, which really shouldn't be. His sonata form concert material just isn't very well known, and I don't mean his concert arrangements of the film works.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 13, 2011 - 11:59 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

See this is one of the few Morricone scores I actually enjoy because it feels more like a traditional score than many of the more experimental instrumentation used on his other scores. El Greco is quite a beautiful score smile


The subject matter dictates only a few valid styles for this film. You could go Renaissance, romantic or Baroque, maybe post-impressionist, but you have to stay 'classical' to some extent.

More people should examine Morricone's concert stuff, which is not so sparse as his film work. For some reason, his concert audience and his film audience seem to be two different species, which really shouldn't be. His sonata form concert material just isn't very well known, and I don't mean his concert arrangements of the film works.


This also is because so little is available on CD. On top of that most of it is his modern writing, which doesn't seem to find an audience as easily. I remember when Enrico De Melis, Morricone's producer, talked Virgin into doing that Chamber Music album. The line forming to tronce on it was almost as long as the one that got on Jerry Goldsmith's case for Christus Apollo. But I have grown to love this material. The "Trio" he did for the "Images" album on the Agora label is a favorite.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 14, 2011 - 11:00 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

El Greco is another of those scores which first came my way courtesy of the old vinyl LP compilations ... a short (approx. 1'20") piece which is absolutely gorgeous.

On the back of this I purchased the RCA double-header (with Giordano Bruno) and was surprised to find a lot of choral work. An enjoyable album but I had to be careful when I played it ... if not in the right mood I found it very tedious and I simply longed for that short beautiful melody. Indeed, I think I preferred the accompanying score more.

Despite any misgivings I purchased the GDM remastered, expanded edition and found it to be a much better listening experience. The sound quality is vastly better and the extra music, rather than being just variations of the existing themes, include some quieter solo guitar pieces and the score is nicely balanced. Far from being a favourite but certainly a welcome album.

Another film I have not seen. I note, Morricone, that you comment that Mel Ferrer performed his role well. I recall that the RCA sleeve notes are less than complimentary: something to do with him being yet another US actor past his best seeking out a role in the European film industy ...


I have never been a fan of Mel Ferrer so maybe I was surprised that this far off look that deadened many a performance of his seemed right for an artist. It didn't change the fact has no real focus.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 17, 2011 - 9:22 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Another sccore that amazes me there isn't more of a following for since it is the type of score that is usually popular here. But I guess there is a certain stereotyping that adheres. Since Morricone is known for doing so much experimenting he is shunned when he doesn't. But even though he follows traditional lines here his voice is still evident. It is still a distinctly Morricone score.

 
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