The two-disc Once Upon a Time: The Essential Ennio Morricone is a serviceable but unexciting overview of some of the highlights of the Italian soundtrack master's enormous catalog. Because it's designed for the newcomer and the casual fan, the play list consists almost entirely of songs that will be overly familiar to those who have been following Morricone's career for some time, with the umpteenth iteration of the spaghetti Western themes filling nearly the entirety of the first disc while ignoring the more obscure but equally interesting work the composer did in other musical and cinematic styles during the same period. However, disc two is a nicely varied collection of songs from Morricone's '80s and '90s work, a mature period in his musical career with essential highlights like the lovely, haunted "The Mission" and the sentimentally nostalgic "Cinema Paradiso." Because of the ongoing interest in Morricone's earlier work, his equally fine later scores are too often ignored, and disc two of this collection is a solid starting point for those who want to move on from "A Fistful of Dynamite: Duck, You Sucker." Again, however, established fans will find little they're not already familiar with.
Once Upon a Time: The Essential Ennio Morricone Film Music Collection Review
by Stewart Mason