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Music Review: Various Artists – To Rome With Love – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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Since, in many respects, Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love is another in what seems to have become a series of intense love affairs with the great cities of Europe, it is only fitting that its musical soundtrack reflect that romantic enchantment. Chosen by the writer-director himself, with much of it recorded especially for the film, the soundtrack, like an antipasto, is an eclectic mix of Italian music in many of its various forms. If some of the old Italian chestnuts are missing, there are at least a few to keep any but the most sentimental among us satisfied. This original soundtrack album released by Sony has 18 tracks. Nine of the 10 songs recorded especially for the movie are available only on this CD.

The album has something to appeal to all tastes. There are the traditional Italian favorites like “Amada Mia, Amore Mio” and “Arrivederci Roma.” There are lesser known Italian gems such as the Emilio Livi recording of “Non Dimenticar le Mie Parole” with the Trio Lescano, and “Mio Dolce Sogno” performed by Butch Baldassari and Jeff Taylor. Then there are three versions of the Domenico Modugno classic from back in 1958, “Volare.” The album opens with his original recording, but there is also an instrumental track from Angelo Di Pippo with some sweet uncredited clarinet lines. The album ends with an orchestral arrangement from Steven Bernstein’s Neapolitan Orchestra.

More modern sounds come from Mop Mop’s “Three Times Bossa” and Adam Hamilton with “Studio 99.” Traditional jazz aficionados will appreciate the standard “When Your Lover Has Gone” from guitar great Eddie Condon and his orchestra which features Bobby Hackett on trumpet. It is a classic version of the E. A. Swan tune and a real treat, even if its relation to things Italian would seem to be a stretch.

Opera lovers will find a generous helping from the Italian repertoire. Tenor Fabio Armiliato who also stars in the film performs a cappella versions of “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca and the Pavarotti favorite “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot. You can never go wrong with Puccini. He also does three sections from the Leoncavallo verismo classic Pagliacci, including of course “Vesti la Giubba,” but also the “Son Qua, Son Qua” and the “Duetto e Finale” with Rita Cammarano among others. In addition there is “Amor Ti Vieta” from Giordano’s Fedora. Opera lovers may be less appreciative of Angelo Di Pippo’s kitschy take on the “Drinking Song” from La Traviata.

In some sense, for those interested only in the music, this album’s strength is also its weakness. In its diversity, it would be unlikely that listeners would be unable to find something to enjoy. On the other hand, that same diversity might make it just as unlikely that listeners would care for it as a whole. For those interested in the music because of its associations with the film, the album is no doubt the perfect accompaniment to the cinematic experience.

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About Jack Goodstein