A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Ennio Morricone, Royal Albert Hall, 10/04/10

I had kind of hesitated when I had initially saw the prices for Ennio Morricone's concert at the Royal Albert Hall but ultimately getting a ticket was to prove extremely worthwhile. The concert saw Morricone conduct the 100 piece Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra and the 100 piece Crouch End Festival Choir play a career-spanning selection of his classic film soundtracks. Earlier on in the day, I had spent an enjoyable afternoon at the nearby V & A and Brompton Oratory before heading over to the Royal Albert Hall.

The evening began with a 30 minute film - "A Life In Music'. It was a good way to open the concert, giving a brief overview of Morricone's music, beliefs, the way he works etc and offered a nice glimpse of what was to follow musically (as well as allowing late comers to arrive without major disturbance). I liked the newspaper headline was flashed across the screen, dubbing Morricone "the Mozart of film music". Quite true, I think.

'Icaro Secondo' opened the programme, allowing the orchestra to find their way. The section entitled 'Scattered Sheets' followed, pulling together individual pieces from different films. An early highlight was my personal favourite 'Metti Una Sera A Cena'  a  dreamy piece of music that has a light, almost bossa nova / 'tropicalia' kind of feel. Tonight it sounded beautiful, albeit without the fluttering, sun-kissed vocals of the recorded version. It is a piece of music which sometimes I feel I would be quite happy to listen to on loop for the rest of my life.

The next segment was entitled 'The Modernity Of Myth In Sergio Leone's Cinema' and showcased  his most well-known music from those timeless Western films. The evocative titles from 'The Good, The Bad &  The Ugly' was played first and listening to it live I realised just how brilliantly unusual and idiosyncratic the music is, despite its familiarity. The music from 'Once Upon A Time In The West' came next and for me, was the emotional heart of the set. Soprano Susanna Rigacci's beyond-beautiful vocals orbit around the hall. It is profoundly moving and I'm sure I wasn't the only person in tears. 'The Ecstacy Of Gold' from 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly' closed this part of the set. At the start of the concert, Sir Christopher Frayling had introduced Morricone on stage and mentioned how he had chosen 'The Ecstacy Of Gold' as his choice on 'Desert Island Discs' for the one piece of music he would take with him. It is not hard to see why, it kind of operates on a different level to most other music and tonight sounded just amazing.

So, a great first half but I did wonder if it was a fraction quiet? Admittedly, I was sitting in the very back row in the Circle which could explain this. However, thankfully, the sound of the second half seemed to project better around the hall.

A section called 'Tre Adagi' opened 'Act 2' (as it was referred to in the programme), collecting together three adagios from his soundtracks. His music for the TV series 'Nostromo' followed, Susanna Rigacci coming back on stage to provide more in the way of exemplary, heavenly vocals. Next, two pieces were played in the section entitled 'Tribute To Mauro Bolognini'. It was the first time I had heard them but I thought they had a real orchestral eloquence.

A selection from Morricone's music for the film 'The Mission' closed the programme, 'Gabriel's Oboe' sounded particularly poignant and 'On Earth As It Is In Heaven' saw the choir truly soaring for the first time.

Morricone left the stage but was soon back on to conduct the orchestra/choir to play the music from 'Cinema Paradiso' as an un-programmed encore. The concert finished with three additional reprises of 'Once Upon A Time In The West', 'The Ecstacy Of Gold' & 'On Earth As It Is In Heaven'.


The full programme of music played can be seen here.


dave said...

Oh, I would LOVE to see Morricone, it sounds phenomenal! If you're into Morricone, you should check out my Spaghetti Western Concept Rap album, called "Showdown at the BK Corral." It's basically a Spaghetti Western over 9 tracks - very influenced by Morricone. I'd love to hear what you think of it! You can download it for free at sunsetparkriders.com

Andy said...

I too was in the back row of the circle but didn't think the first half was too quiet. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, but I'd have loved to have heard more from his other films than just to reprise the favourites as encores.

morghini said...

When I saw Morricone in 2003 I was sat in the circle & I too thought it was a little too quiet, for this concert on Saturday I made sure I got tickets closer on teh Grand Tier & it was much improved.

Fantastic concert & had to go despite the expense, as I had my doubts if he will ever return in the future

Liam said...

I thought it was great gig too. Thought the drummer and bass player were a little loose at moments, though.