Sunday 9 June 2024

The Music of Ennio Morricone - Review

National Concert Hall, Dublin


Conducted by Anthony Gabriele

Anthony Gabriele and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra

Accomplished conductor Anthony Gabriele took to the podium of Dublin’s National Concert Hall to conduct the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in an evening of The Music of Ennio Morricone. The concert marked the first occasion that both orchestra and conductor had performed Morricone’s work and the event proved sublime.

The great scores were all acknowledged, with the Main Theme from The Untouchables getting proceedings underway, with Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly following soon after – that film’s iconic Main Theme leading into Ecstasy of Gold with an exquisite soprano contribution from Muirgen O’Mahony. The choral backdrop to the piece came from the Mornington Singers’ ensemble who had been well rehearsed by their chorus master Orla Flanagan. O’Mahony was also to shine magnificently with her vocal work in the Main Theme from Once Upon a Time in the West and in Deborah’s Theme from Once Upon a Time in America, both movies again of course directed by Leone. If there was but one small flaw in the evening, it was in the sound design supporting the choir. Sat aloft in the hall’s gallery, the 30-strong singing company sometimes needed more amplification to be heard in balance against the strong music emanating from the orchestra below them.  

Maestro Gabriele’s passion for the works that he was conducting was almost tangible. Between occasional numbers he spoke reverentially yet knowingly of Morricone’s work, referencing the quintessential quality found throughout the composer’s work, that of l’italianità. 

The first half of the evening went on to include the rarely heard theme from La Califfa, a piece that highlighted some gorgeous oboe work from James Hulme. Morricone’s only competitively-won Oscar was earned in 2016 for his score for Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and it was that movie’s stunning L’Ultima Diligenza di Red Rock that led into the interval.

The second half of the show kicked off with the Main Theme followed by the Love Theme from Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso – allowing the orchestra’s Leader and solo violinist Mia Cooper to offer up an enchanting take on Morricone’s haunting melodies. Chi Mai from Le Professionnel (but forever associated in these isles with the BBC’s Life & Times of David Lloyd George) was to be included in the following selections, together with two of Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, A Fistful of Dynamite and A Fistful of Dollars adding to the evening’s delight.

Two numbers from Roland Joffe’s The Mission, sparklingly introduced by Gabriele led towards the concert’s conclusion as James Hulme was again fabulous with Gabriel’s Oboe, as flautist Silvija Ščerbavičiūtė excelled in The Falls.

All credit to Gabriele, the orchestra and the singers – their performances were a marvellous tribute to the work of Ennio Morricone.

Photo credit: Chris Mason

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