There are basically two kinds of love on the disc We All Love Ennio Morricone. There's the love the performers apparently have for Morricone's music. Naturally, because they're an amazingly diverse cast of performers, none of them love him the same way. Some love him romantically -- Renée Fleming's big-hearted "Come Sail Away" -- some love him narcissistically -- Celine Dion's dolled-up "I Knew I Loved You" -- and some love him quite physically -- Denyce Graves' hot-blooded "Could Be Heaven." Some love him with neo-Latin fusion love -- Daniela Mercury and Eumir Deodato's deep-in-the-groove "Conmigo" -- some love him with crazy-mad-monkey-love -- Quincy Jones, Patti Austin, and Herbie Hancock's funked-up version of the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- and some love him with speed metal Goth vs. the Lone Ranger love, as in Metallica's hellbent for leather "The Ecstasy of Gold."
Then there's the way Morricone apparently loves himself. While one prestigious music critic calls Morricone the greatest composer in the history of film -- thereby dismissing the careers of Korngold, Newman, Steiner, Waxman, Tiomkin, Herrmann, Walton, and Shostakovich -- and one celebrated filmmaker calls his partnership with Sergio Leone the most important in the history of film -- thereby dismissing, among others, the partnerships of Herrmann and Hitchcock and of Walton and Olivier -- it turns out that when Morricone has a big, full-bodied symphony orchestra to work with, he goes soft. His accompaniments for Bruce Springsteen's guitar, Yo-Yo Ma's cello, and Andrea Bocelli's tenor are passive and permissive, while his solo numbers -- Gabriel's Oboe, The Tropical Variations, and, above all, Cinema Paradiso -- are turgid and torpid. What was great about Morricone's scores -- his acerbic harmonies, his aching lyricism, his odd but compelling rhythms, his weird but very cool colors -- sounds like mush when Maroni's on the podium. Unlike the performances used on the soundtracks, here the strings sweep, the winds weep, the brass bludgeons, and the percussion thunders -- sounding less like cutting-edge irony and more like old-fashioned sentimentality.
Those who really love Morricone -- and that should include everyone who loves movie music -- are advised to stick to the original soundtracks. Aside from the novelty value of having former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters team up with current Van Halen guitarist Edward Van Halen to perform "Lost Boys Calling," there's not much to recommend here.
Two further notes: despite the fact that there are 15 credits for "I Knew I Loved You" and 19 credits for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, there is no mention in the liner notes as to which films any of these pieces belong, a startling show of disrespect to the directors. And despite -- or perhaps because -- of the fact that there are different engineers, editors, mixers, and arrangers for virtually every track, each one is wildly over produced with colossal reverb, gargantuan echo, and immense acoustics.