Title: La lupa (She-wolf)
Composer: Ennio Morricone
The last title I reviewed was for Maesto Morricone’s 90s score for Wolf. Based on the title I assumed that She-wolf would be similar to that film but instead of a werewolf flick it is a psychological drama about a woman who seduces younger men, based on a short story written in the 1800s. The two scores are very similar in tone and the score for La lupa would easily pass as the sequel score to Wolf.
One thing I have to warn first is that the score is mostly monothematic and if you don’t like the main theme, you’re not going to enjoy this album. That theme is also very slow-moving so the tracks involving it tend to be quite long. I happen to like the theme. It reminds me of the main theme of Wolf because it too has some darkly tragic qualities while oozing with underlying sexual tension. La lupa adds a classical guitar into the orchestration which brings some rural feel to it. The theme is first heard on staccato high strings and later moves to another instrument associated with the film’s 19th century setting: a recorder. At the end of the cue there is also a short waltz variation, later developed further in the macabre Triste notte featuring church bell tolls. The great thing is that the melody has great variation in the orchestration. Al fiume reprises the theme with the recorder, judgmental distant drum hits and slowly building pace whereas Cartezza di amare has some sort of swirling figures. Track 10 is the most romantic version thus far but later has a sinister bassline that twists the harmonies around into more suspenseful territory. The final version in La lupa doesn’t deliver a romantic conclusion but ends in some annoying suspense material which is just a disappointingly weak end to the album.
Besides the main theme statements there are cues that break the mold. Jarufalu pumpusu is performed in Italian by the film’s main actress Monica Guerritore in a powerful folk music like vocal performance. The backing orchestral music by Morricone is disturbing suspense material which really gives the cue an unsettling feel. The delivery of both the vocals and the backing also has some Middle Eastern qualities which is an odd choice but works brilliantly. The following La fine continues with the disturbing orchestral material in a short burst of screeching atonality but soon moves back to the main theme with a rather uninteresting version of the melody. The Middle Eastern aspect continues in La mietitura, a weird melody for woodwinds and a keyboard bouncing between a more hopeful horn theme that’s one of the score’s highlight moments. Like track 2 it’s a unique listen and pleasant to hear because of its surprising manner. The great major key theme is reprised in Notturno e alba but instead of balancing with the Middle Eastern melody it features a keyboard version of the main theme. The last odd yet charming moment arrives in La masseria, a medieval or gypsy -inspired dance for ethnic flutes and a tambourine and even an unexpected variation of the main theme.
Very high atonal strings start Notte oscura, notte chiara like a wind moving through a dark forest before a sinister lower string line appears underneath along with some lonely brass. Though a challenging listen it is actually better than the horror music in an real horror film, Wolf. More of that straight-up horror starts Disperazione that also bares some similarities with the main theme but then moves to complex atonal chords with bubbly pizzicato strings on top of which horns play snippets of the main theme. That moment is just ugly because of how shocking it is, but unfortunately the ending with an added drumset and the eventual main theme reprise flatten the mood. Nel profondo is another suspense cue that’s rooted in the main theme but unfortunately it just doesn’t get under your skin like some of the other tracks. Luckily at the end there is some genuine action music to be heard with screeching woodwinds and primal rhythms provided by the pounding percussion. Infatuazione, Diabolica passione and Veglia are the most tedious suspense moments on the album in which almost nothing of interest happens. Luckily Veglia reprises the shocking suspense of Disperazione in a decent final showdown.
Though there are some stellar cues at the first part of the album, the disappointingly dull last third ruins the listening experience for me. The sense of dread is palpable throughout and luckily some of the suspense material is just thrilling. La lupa isn’t one of the classics and the depressive nature of the constant onslaught of minor chord after another won’t make you want to return to this very often.
1. La lupa (04:05) ****
2. Jarufalu pumpusu (03:07) *****
3. La fine (04:15) ***
4. Notte oscura, notte chiara (02:58) ****
5. Al fiume (02:52) ****
6. La mietitura (03:02) *****
7. La masseria (02:21) *****
8. Sui campi dolorosi (01:49) ****
9. Certezza di amare (02:24) ****
10. La lupa (03:44) ****
11. Notturno e alba (04:41) ****
12. Disperazione (06:25) ****
13. Nel profondo (05:07) ***
14. Infatuazione (04:18) **
15. Diabolica passione (03:56) **
16. Triste notte (03:34) ***
17. Veglia (04:29) ***
18. La lupa (02:12) **