Ennio Morricone Sundays

Soundtrack review: La Piovra (Ennio Morricone)

Ennio-Morricone-La-Piovra-Soundtrack-Front

 

For each of us the Ennio Morricone means something else. His unbelievable career and huge back catalogue has everything for everyone. Some love him for the game changing Western scores. Other adore his orchestral treasures. Many can’t get over the lyricism of “Once upon a time in America”. There are many Morricone scores I can’t live without….and yet one stands proudly on top of my list and it’s been there for 25 years, ever since it first touched my ears. I know that for my generation Twin Peaks was the TV show and score that changed our lives. And yet, in the same year I first laid eyes and ears on something else and it is the only TV score I treasure more than Badalamenti’s masterpiece and the only one that echoes deeper inside me…

“La Piovra” is probably the most famous and acclaimed European TV show ever. The Italian saga about one man’s fight against the mob kept us connected and invested for more than a decade. The tragic fight of Corrado Cattani, the most resilient and honest cop ever, was all we could talk about. I remember what an event the episode when he died was… we anticipated it, it was announced and nobody breathed for a couple of hours that night. Such a hero needed a villain to match and Tano Caridi still is on my list of favorite TV characters.

Ennio Morricone wrote the score for the seasons 2-7 of that show and from the iconic main theme (“Morale” is still my favorite TV theme ever) to the emotional and haunting character themes, through minutes and minutes of suspense, action or drama music each and every cue is a landmark in his unparalleled career.

I had that main theme and a few other tracks in my mind for years before being able to finally listen to them. There was no official release and this was my biggest Holy Grails. For some 10 years all I could do was play the theme in my head over and over again…”Morale” and “La morale del’imorale”, the two organ driven action themes would explode in my head every now and then demanding attention. Then Napster came along… The first thing I did was look for “La piovra” and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found a few tracks. This was the beginning of my digital score collection.

I have never heard another score that can tug at my emotional resorts like this one. There isn’t another orchestral score so powerful and sensitive in the same time, so melodic and piercing, so deep and intense. The way the Maestro uses the violin, the piano or the organ (I had to wait 25 years before Hans Zimmer’s “Interstellar” managed to use the organ as masterfully and ravishing as it was used in “Morte di un giusto”) is unique and it will shatter your insides. And then there are Edda del Orso’s haunting wordless vocals in the background.

“Mille ecchi” is heartbreaking and unforgiving. The sharp stabs of strings fall like tears from the eyes of those who cared for the story. The piano in the background is like a balm but it’s not enough to keep me from feeling that grip on my heart that almost chokes me. This is one of the most beautiful musical pieces ever written. There’s so much sorrow and love in this track that it is unbearable. “Mille ecchi” is constructed like an elegiac memory which left something unfinished.

“Tentativo d’amore” is rich and hopeless. It builds up like an invisible wall around you keeping you from seeing the light in a gray and bleak world. The instrumentation is minimal but as poignant as they come. Then it gets louder and richer as the music progresses and by the time it’s over you are boxed in and conquered by the darkness. This cue is like a dark shadow you can’t shake off, a shadow which never lets you forget that you cannot win.

“Ricordo d’infanzia” is eerie and haunting. The river of sadness that runs through the score reaches even this most innocent motif. “Strana bambina” has been haunting me since the first time I’ve heard it, like a recurring nightmare about a little girl you can never save. The soft echoes of her sighs sound like an eternal lullaby and send shivers up your spine. This theme is trapped in a twisted and beautiful snow globe from which it can never escape. It remains there eternally frozen.

Edda del Orso shines in “Intimamente”. Most of the score for “La Piovra” is melodic, haunting and sorrowful but this theme takes it to another level. You will be both charmed and mesmerized by the minimalistic and poignant flow of this cue.

There’s a lot more to this score… listen to it for the suspenseful and gripping action cues or for that organ that gives the sentence in “Morte di un giusto”. Morricone paints orchestral scenes which could never be matched by a film maker. He reaches inside you and strikes all the right chords.

My favorite theme is “Esther”. It comes from season 4 which was my favorite and it’s written for one of the most tragic figures in the show. It’s another lullaby sounding cue, with bells and chimes and slow strings. You feel like you want to protect this theme, you want to hide it and give it comfort because it just begs you to. The construction of the theme is magnificent. It’s a dialogue, a back and forth between two motifs which balance each other like a musical see saw. This dialogue could go on forever so Morricone decides to snip it after four minutes by breaking the rhythm of the keys…

Some themes are almost 30 years old… others come from 25 years ago while the newest “La Piovra” motifs were written in the 00s. It doesn’t matter when they come from because they all end up in the same place: deep in my heart. They will never leave. Hundreds and hundreds of musical compositions have come and gone since then but “La Piovra” is my rock, the fixed point I always return to.

I am sure all of us have certain themes that we know and love so much that they pop up every now and then in our heads like wonderful memories. Most of mine come from this one.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 61 / 85

Album excellence: 72%

Highlights:

Canzone Per La Sera

La morale

La Morale Dell’immorale

Tentativo D’amore

Mille Echi

Strana Bambina

La piovra 4 (titoli)

Intimamente

Esther

Una Pietra Sopra

Nel Covo

Morte Di Un Giusto

Arresto

La morale (sax film)

Inizio Del Caso

Con Tenerezza

Dolore Dell’anima

Serenamente

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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