Enea Leone

Eleven: Enea Leone Plays Ennio Morricone

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Eleven: Enea Leone Plays Ennio Morricone Review

by James Manheim

A guitar might seem the least hospitable of all instruments for the quintessentially orchestral film music of Ennio Morricone, but these transcriptions by Italian guitarist Enea Leone come, as Leone recounts in ebullient booklet notes (in Italian and English) that also touch on the birth of his daughter, approved by Morricone himself -- the guitarist visited Morricone in his Rome villa and successfully sought out tips and imprimatur. Leone, who has previously transcribed music of Telemann for the guitar, comes up with undeniably clever ways of evoking the sonorities of famous Morricone numbers from soundtracks such as C'era una volta il wes (Once Upon a Time in the West). He sets himself pure virtuoso tasks by using a range of guitar effects -- harmonics above all. One may be puzzled by his contention that he produces "sounds that are neither natural nor artificial" and yet wonder how he inflects harmonics in the upper ranges so as to evoke Morricone's writings for both strings and electronic keyboards. Only the most famous piece of all, the main theme from Il buono, il brutto, e il cattivo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, track 11), sounds forced. Certainly a great deal of Morricone's music, most notably his rich references to popular music, are lost in translation here, but the overall impression is one of amazement that this experiment works as well as it does -- and that the listener who enjoys Morricone's music in its original form is gradually drawn in rather than annoyed.

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