Thursday, July 16, 2020

Ennio Morricone 9

Even if it's late as I write this, still staying with the daily Morricone theme. Today's vinyl: Moses the Lawgiver, 1974, on RCA Victor. 

I bought this from Jerry's Records on one of his auctions, and no doubt bid the minimum. The score was written for a 1973-74 Italian/British TV miniseries, starring of all people Burt Lancaster in the title role! No weirder than Charlton Heston, I suppose.

My wife is open about her Hollywood crushes, and Burt Lancaster is close to the top of the list. And I can't say I blame her. We tool a vacation in Vancouver once, and the local arthouse theater had a film noir series. We saw two Burt Lancaster films, The Killers and (I think) Desert Fury. The second was shot first but released later. In both cases, the beautiful dame chooses a schlub over Burt, and you have to wonder, why? Hell, I would have chosen him. 

I don't recognize any other actors' names on this project, though Burt's son appears as a young Moses. Notable is that Anthony Burgess co-wrote the screenplay, and once again Bruno Nicolai conducts. No vocals by Edda Dell'Orso this time though. I guess there wasn't any call for panicked or erotic breathy vocals on this score. There is credit given each to a lead female voice, violist, and flutist. Morricone's in orchestra and chorus mode here, little of his unique instrument choices are to be found this time.

So I have to wonder, who would buy and listen to this record? Why would they press it into the vinyl format in the first place? How many copies are sitting in a landfill?

The first two pieces on this album are solid but common-sounding soundtrack cues. Folk-like unison chorus and orchestra, etc. Those are followed by a particularly brutal tone-clustery piece that almost recalls Xenakis. Follow that with a piece of multiple (multitracked?) recorders, and then again a lamentation piece for solo voice and chorus. "In God's Voice", ending side one, recalls Ligeti to me. Is it processed with delays and reverbs or not? I'm not entirely certain. The beginning of side two, "Israel", in a way recalls that Bernstein Mass. Both compelling and dated. I wonder if the conductor's score still exists.

It's all to the service of the visuals. And yet, this is its own separate record album, and as a discrete listening experience, it's disconcerting. I can picture a Jewish person coming across this album, thinking, "Moses! He's our man!" Taking it home, listening, and thinking, "What the fuck is this?"

Maybe. Don't let me put words in anyone's mouth or head.

And that got me thinking, this is some Old Testament shit. Vengeful God. It should sound harsh at times.

No comments: