Ennio Morricone

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo/La Resa Dei Conti

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Ennio Morricone had a banner year in 1967 -- he not only saw some of his most interesting and engaging work from the early 1960s finally make it into theaters in America, thanks to the belated U.S. release of A Fistful of Dollars, but he also delivered two of the most memorable movie scores that he would ever write, in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and The Big Gundown. Both are represented (under their original titles) on this not quite one-hour-long CD from Italy. And while the music to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is widely available and so well known as to be downright ubiquitous, the score for The Big Gundown (which is a superb movie in its own right) isn't nearly as well known, and the dozen tracks representing it are worth the price of this CD alone -- it's similar to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, with more striking and well-defined use of certain instrumental timbres, especially horns and trumpets, and an acoustic guitar, and the choruses here sound like they're chanting on the morning of the end of the world; and the composer even manages to work in a quotation from Beethoven's "Fur Elise" that's relevant to the plot in a small but important way. Both scores have been mastered cleanly and with good, healthy volume and presence, so that the choruses are about as up front in the mixes as one has ever heard them in pieces such as "Morte Di un Soldato." The Big Gundown music sounds as though the orchestra is in the room with you, they voices are so eerily close and vivid. Sad to say, there is no annotation (and if there were, it would almost certainly be in Italian), but there are some OK graphics and photos in the insert, and a list of additional releases in this soundtrack reissue series.

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