The Royal Albert Hall has a capacity of around 5,500 and it looks pretty full here tonight. The evening begins with a 25 minute film about Ennio Morricone called “A life in music” directed by Giovanni Morricone. This gives a synopsis of his life and work, showing snippets of him conducting and working on his film scores. It’s a good way to introduce who will be playing and contains some interesting information. Ennio Morricone is now 82 years old, his first film score credit was in 1961 and he’s scored something in the region of 450 films. Interestingly, he’s known for his film work on Westerns, but these account for about 35 films in total, he’s first and foremost a composer – not just for film.
After the introductory film on his life, there’s a lengthy and unnecessary 25 MINUTE interval but during this time the 110 piece choir file on and take their seats, men sitting stage left, women stage right. They’re the Crouch End Festival Chorus and have been around for 25 years. They’ve appeared at the BBC Proms, sung with Oasis at the Roundhouse & have featured in Doctor Who.
Tonight, the man Quincy Jones simple calls “The Maestro” is conducting the Roma Sinfonietta, who he’s played & recorded with for around 14 years. It’s around a 90 piece orchestra, comprising 14 first violins, 11 second violins, 9 violas, 8 cellos, 5 double bass, 5 french horns, 5 trumpets, 4
flutes, 4 trombones, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 percussionists, 2 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon, 1 tuba, 1 saxophone, 1 bassist, 1 electric guitar, 1 drummer, 1 pianist and 1 harpist!
Not much more to add really, the standard of the music was always going to be impeccable and there was a fantastic soprano by the name of Susanna Rigacci who comes from Sweden and has worked with Morricone since 2001. Taken from my programme, the set list he conducted was as follows:
Theme from H2 S – a surreal 1969 comedy that’s worth seeing and has a fantastic score.
The Sicilian Clan
Uno Che Grida Amore (from the film Love Circle)
Come Maddalena (from the film Maddalena)
The good, the bad and the ugly
Once upon a time in the west
A fistful of dynamite
The ecstasy of gold (from The good, the bad and the ugly)
Deborah’s Theme (one of my favourites – from Once upon a time in America)
Addio Monti (from I Promessi Sposi)
Per Le Antiche Scale
On Earth as it is in heaven
Not much more to add really. It was great to see the orchestra playing the tunes we’ve all come to know so well, hearing the riffs from the Fender Strat, the use of bells or a whistle to punctuate a musical phrase, the impossibly long single notes adding a sense of tension to any musical piece, the dense layers of brass and strings. Something that should be experienced at least once which was why I went in the first place. One of the greatest living composers still touring and playing, catch him if you ever get the chance – it’s definitely worth it.