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Ennio Morricone's recent concert tour came briefly to New York early in 2007. The DVD-CD set Ennio Morricone Peace Notes Live in Venice records two later performances at the Piazza San Marco in Venice on September 9 and 10, 2007. Fans of the prolific film composer will need to read no further before seeking out this DVD as it's a quality presentation on all counts. Personally, I can imagine I'll be looking less frequently at my fuzzy PAL to NTSC VHS conversion of a concert taped for Italian television.
The DVD is a multi-camera recored of the concert in the dramatic open-air setting of the plaza. Director Giovanni Morricone for the most part stays focused on the musicians, although I wouldn't call his visual choices optimal. Several of his cameras appear to be on robotic cranes that see a great deal of over-use, swooping so close to the musicians that we're surprised their music stands are not knocked over. Attractive shots of Venice interrupt many of the pieces, in a not unattractive way. The only real stumblings are the poetic musings that appear, in English text, over these extra scenes. Not only are the words not particularly related to the tunes being played, they contain many misspellings. I found myself ignoring them.
Soundtrack fans will like the musical selection. The Sergio Leone set is clearly there to pull in that segment of Morricone's faithful, although he's repeatedly expressed his desire to leave a much wider legacy than the six or seven Leone films out of the four hundred or more he's scored. The presence of a full symphony orchestra and choir naturally favors 'big' compositions over Morricone's simpler film themes that often featured solo instruments. In keeping with the Peace motif, the 'chapter' titles suggest a movement to socially responsible and devout themes. Morricone ends with the rousing socialist melody from Sacco and Vanzetti. When the choir begins the chant, "Here's to you, Nicola and Bart", the audience applauds.
Addio Monti (from The Betrothed) 3:18
The Sicilian Clan 3:36
Love Circle 3:37
Uno Che Grida Amore (from Love Circle 4:47
Once Upon a Time in The West 3:04
A Fistful of Dynamite 3:57
The Ecstasy of Gold (from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 3:03
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion 3:03
A Brisa do Coração (from According to Peireira) 3:17
The Working Class Goes to Heaven 3:38
Casualties of War 8:53
Abolisson (from Queimada) 4:03
Richard III 3:26
Gabriel's Oboe (from The Mission) 2:16
Falls (from The Mission) 2:57
On Earth as It Is In Heaven (from The Mission) 3:29
Cinema Paradiso 5:51
Here's to You (from Sacco and Vanzetti) 3.50
The disc is beautifully produced, with a menu that makes access to all of the selections fast and simple. The audio is in 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo; the video is enhanced widescreen.
Two extras provide a better explanation of the disc's theme. The "Peace Notes" subtitle refers more selectively to Morricone's more abstract composition Voci Dal Silenzio, dedicated to the victims of 9/11. An extra with that title takes us directly to a full orchestra performance of the work before the General Assembly of the United Nations. Morricone is introduced by the General Secretary in a formal ceremony. Some of the non-melodic portions of the 29-minute piece become jarringly atonal (in the good sense) before settling into a theme reminiscent of The Mission.
...Tra le Note carries interviews with Morricone about conducting in St. Mark's Square and with the director of the Casino that sponsored the concert. Morricone talks about his 'other' interest in what he refers to (in translation) as "absolute music." The casino director reminds us that his association with Morricone for the concert began before Il Maestro was awarded a special Oscar.
Making the disc an even more attractive deal is the inclusion of two additional CDs that contain the contents of the Venice concert with several other tracks: Voci Dal Silenzio, The Untouchables and The Legend of 1900. The discs are contained in a plastic and card folder in a card sleeve. No program notes are included.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
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