Tuesday, 2 October 2018

WTF (Weird tho' fabulous): part 8

Title: Edipeon – il sapore della pelle
Year: 1970
Composer: Stelvio Cipriani

I was saddened by the passing of one of the greats of Italian film music, Maestro Stelvio Cipriani. He was an incredibly prolific composer who wrote dozens of film scores a year during his prime with stupendous quality. Luckily the labels still release unreleased music by him and I doubt this will cease anytime soon. I decided to revisit one release from 2015 by Digitmovies. The obscure film is about a teenager dealing with Oedipus complex and other unhealthy desires finally winding up to murder and suicide. Cipriani’s score rises above all this with classically beautiful, restrained music that includes some of his most beautiful passages.

The opening Seq. 1 is a true beauty a melody, beginning with delicate harp playing that makes way to the recorder and later to the voice of Edda dell’Orso. The chord progressions are clearly Baroque in nature and after a modulation the piece turns into an actual medieval dance piece with the high soprano voice singing in the distance. Unfortunately Cipriani rarely returns to this idea later in the score. In Seq.2 it’s heard as a more menacing organ chorale which turns into a near horror territory before introducing the film’s real main theme that gets more coverage later in the score. The Baroque recorder is combined to unsettling flute and electric guitar effects along with vocal ‘whoo-hoos’ in the bizarre yet engaging Seq. 5. Finale is a short reprise of the opening theme and a fine end to the album.

A variation of the main theme, probably most familiar Cipriani melody heard on this album compared to his other works, is heard in Seq. 3 as a laid-back bossa cue with Edda’s scat vocals. This cue was previously released as public domain library music and I’ve surprisingly heard this cue playing in some YouTube videos quite recently. The main theme is hinted again in Seq. 11 disguised as a beat cue but the real first full performance is in the following Seq. 12. Here it’s sung by Edda with scat vocal stylings familiar to works of Ennio Morricone. Many full versions of the theme follow in cues Seq.15, 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24. The problem is that the theme gets rather repetitive eventually and slightly loses its magic in the process. Notable versions however include Seq. 17 with a classical-guitar waltz version with the vocals and Baroque flute, and Seq. 18 with a suspenseful climax to tremolo strings.

Another melodic winner is the score’s third thematic idea first heard in Seq. 4, clearly borrowing a note or two from Chaplin’s Smile. Nevertheless it is a spectacular theme that resonates childlike innocence that is highlighted by its usually small-scale orchestrations. Seq. 8 is a simple flute, guitar and percussion trio whereas Seq. 9 begins with an emotional string quartet that then gets going after a percussion set joins the fun. The plainest but probably prettiest version is the passionate solo piano performance, Seq. 10 probably played by the composer himself which gets me almost teary-eyed. The final version of Seq. 25 is an emotional send-off with a mournful organ prelude that leads to a bare harp and solo violin duet.

As for usual there are also moments that aren’t linked to the main thematic material. These include two beatnik party cues Seq. 7 & 16 with groovy keyboard solos and Seq. 13: a fast, walking bass heavy chase scene with out-of-tune guitar twanging and more of those groovy keyboards. A melancholic organ waltz Seq. 20 underscores the film’s more tragicomic aspects with slight touches to Italian folk music. A previously unheard melody, a romantic bolero for oboe and strings is heard in Seq. 21 which turns about to be one of the score’s most unique little moments.

The score has elements like the small-scale Baroque orchestration and progressions that are rather unique to this very score. Still the main theme is rooted in the same pool where Cipriani usually drew his thematic ideas which gives that familiar comfort. The latter half of the album drags a little after so many similar versions of the same theme with only slight variations. Overall it’s however a fine, beautiful composition that every fan of the composer should check out.

Rating: ****1/2

1. Edipeon - seq.1 Titoli (02:43) *****
2. Edipeon - seq.2 (01:31) ****
3. Edipeon - seq.3 (03:12) ****
4. Edipeon - seq.4 (01:28) *****
5. Edipeon - seq.5 (01:39) *****
6. Edipeon - seq.6 (01:29) ****
7. Edipeon - seq.7 (02:37) ***
8. Edipeon - seq.8 (01:48) *****
9. Edipeon - seq.9 (01:15) *****
10. Edipeon - seq.10 (01:24) *****
11. Edipeon - seq.11 (01:48) ****
12. Edipeon - seq.12 (02:05) *****
13. Edipeon - seq.13 (02:12) *****
14. Edipeon - seq.14 (02:29) ****
15. Edipeon - seq.15 (02:17) *****
16. Edipeon - seq.16 (01:31) *****
17. Edipeon - seq.17 (02:30) *****
18. Edipeon - seq.18 (01:49) *****
19. Edipeon - seq.19 (02:23) ****
20. Edipeon - seq.20 (01:49) ****
21. Edipeon - seq.21 (02:37) *****
22. Edipeon - seq.22 (01:24) ****
23. Edipeon - seq.23 (01:04) ****
24. Edipeon - seq.24 (01:42) ****
25. Edipeon - seq.25 (01:58) *****
26. Edipeon - seq.26 Finale (01:32) *****

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