Andrea Griminelli,
Cinema Italiano: A New
Interpretation of Italian Film Music

(Decca, 2002)

Straight out of left field comes Cinema Italiano, one of the most unusual and delightful albums that I've had the good fortune to encounter. Although this disc will likely be relegated to the miscellaneous section in the back of the soundtrack rack, this is not technically a soundtrack or even a soundtrack collection. Flautist Andrea Griminelli pays tribute to the music of the Italian cinema by recording new interpretations of some of the best classic Italian film soundtrack music, utilizing the contributions of guest artists Deborah Harry, Luciano Pavarotti and Sting, among others. Cinema Italiano also features orchestral ensemble work arranged and conducted by Luis Bacalov, with mix and production by Craig Leon.

Sting shows his versatility on the first track with a lovely vocal performance on "My Heart and I," which is the theme from La Piovra, an Italian television show. The style is essentially Broadway show tune, with a rewarding melody accompanied by an orchestral arrangement that soars, wistful one moment, triumphant the next, with great flute work. While this track is so good it may be worth the price of the disc all by itself, the rest of the disc is equally worthwhile. I must admit that I've never had much use for opera or opera singers, but "Ai giochi addio" (better known as the love theme from Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet) is a great song, sung here by a great singer, Luciano Pavarotti, with inspired backing by flute and orchestra.

Another nice surprise is a piece of vocal work turned in by one-time Blondie singer Deborah Harry, who not only sings '50s style jazz-pop sounding like a natural, but she also wrote the English lyrics, turning the theme from Amarcord into the song "You'll Come to Me," which succeeds on every level. You may remember the 1968 chart hit "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly" by Hugo Montenegro, written by Ennio Morricone from the Clint Eastwood film of the same name. This song appears here with the whistled melody performed on flute and a middle section bridge that reminded me so much of "Duel of the Fates" from John Williams' Star Wars Episode I soundtrack that I had to go back to the Montenegro version to make sure that this passage was there in the original; it was.

By now, I'm running out of superlatives, and we've only covered the first four of these 14 terrific tracks. Cinema Italiano is flush with classic and memorable film scores performed with exquisite care and first-rate orchestration, led by the always tasteful flute of Griminelli. Even the selections from films relatively unknown outside Italy contain gorgeous melodies that are a pleasure to hear. Of the more well known selections, there are tracks from Cinema Paradiso, The Mission and the unforgettable "Love Theme" from The Godfather. Deborah Harry switches to a chanteuse vocal style for "When Love Comes By" from Il Postino. The disc concludes with "Fellini Classics Orchestral Suite" containing music from three Fellini films all scored by Nino Rota.

Cinema Italiano is one of the most well-conceived and well-executed projects that you'll ever have the pleasure to hear, and is well worth whatever trouble it may take to locate a copy -- hurry before it goes out of print. Although this disc would automatically interest fans of Sting, Deborah Harry, Pavarotti, film soundtrack music, Italian cinema and flute music, this disc will surely please anyone who loves great music, well done. Oh, and by the way, next time you go to the movies, stay for the end credits -- you just might hear something memorable on the soundtrack.

- Rambles
written by William Kates
published 12 April 2003