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 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Volume #12 of Italian peplum on Digitmovies - Carlo Savina's URSUS NELLA TERRA DI FUOCO - reveals itself to me as a most exemplary specimen not only of this genre but also of the invaluable efforts made to locate the complete recordings, restore them via re-mastering, and preserve onto digital media this extraordinary expansion.




This particular entry in the Ursus franchise - the third one - has had a rather peculiar soundtrack evolution during its 46-year history from its music's creation in 1963 up through the release of this 2009 CD. At the time of this movie's distribution (basically within continental Europe), no soundtrack was issued. No LP; no 45 r.p.m. EP. However, in 1969, eight tracks from URSUS NELLA TERRA DI FUOCO did surface (in monaural sound) on the "B" side of the "I due Kennedy" LP soundtrack, another music score by Carlo Savina.

Those 8 cues had been individually titled, and these track titles have been placed into quotes by me and follow the film's title which Digitmovies has repeated for each of the 33 cues.

Although Italian soundtrack specialty labels have received some criticism for their repetition of movie titles as their track titles in lieu of especially written cue descriptions, their sequencing of the cues seem to be in chronological film order more times than not.

However, before I review these 33 cues, please note that about 10 minutes of Savina's URSUS (in stereo) appeared on 10 tracks within a 1991 Cinevox CD compilation album from 4 URSUS soundtracks (by Roman Vlad, Riz Ortolani, Savina & Lavagnino, respectfully).

Digitmovies has effectively multiplied the previous runtime duration of 10 minutes of stereo music by 6, and offers collectors greater than 60 minutes of Savina's URSUS! Such a generous and unique expansion deserves an album review and I hope my input below serves it justice. smile


1. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco (Titoli - Seq.1) "Ursus"
2. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
3. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
4. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
5. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
6. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
7. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
8. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
9. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
10. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco "Variazioni"
11. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
12. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
13. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
14. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
15. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco "Cronaca di guerra"
16. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
17. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
18. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
19. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
20. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
21. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco "Concerto di morte"
22. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco "Sera tenebrosa"
23. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
24. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco "Impronta romantica"
25. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
26. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco "Un attio di sosta"
27. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
28. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
29. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
30. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
31. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
32. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco
33. Ursus Nella Terra Di Fuoco (Finale - Seq.33) "Immagine di donna"


1. The "Titoli" possesses oscillating brassy fanfares, sustained - yet rhythmic - percussive effects, thunder clap emulations, & static organ chords - all of which was simply titled "Ursus" before. 2:10

2. Ascending brass fanfare stings are backed by shimmering strings, which segue into some sustained woodwinds accompanied by archaic-sounding lyre-like harp plucking. The track concludes with full orchestral statement of a victorious motif (which was not present in the "Titoli"). 1:46

3. That victorious theme returns at a gallop after an initial percussive sting; the 2nd half of this cue has harps cascading behind the ascending horn calls. 1:36

4. The brass section delivers a pensive motif which communicates struggle. A lonely bass clarinet then probes around in a fashion typical to Italian film scores during the early 1960s. 1:15

5. Slow but regular hypnotic vibrations from an organ & percussion combo underline the brass signaling menace. The 'struggle' theme reappears to end the track. 1:15

6. Bongo drums, metal percussion, organ & bass clarinet unite to form an almost funereal procession.
1:30

7. A piano enters with simple ostinatos to join the rhythm of the other percussion while brass juggle fanfares with 'danger' motifs. 1:35

8. Sustained organ and cymbals provide an almost transparent accompaniment to a musical saw's outstanding rendition of a fanfare motif previously entrusted to the horn. 1:31

9. A histrionic danger motif on brass heralds relentless drum pronouncements and a wavering organ chord. Gong-like thunder claps then precede an introduction to a different 'struggle' motif. 1:31

10. The horn fanfare is back (with tingling cymbals & harp arpeggios) as a "variazioni" serving to introduce the love theme first heard on strings & then capped by a rambunctious recapitulation of one of the brassy annunciations. 2:05

11. This cue commences with the same music heard at the end of track 10. The solitary bass clarinet returns amongst sustained strings; both offer faint whiffs of Eastern aromas. Thunderous drum rolls intrude whilst danger motifs and fanfares fight for supremacy. Neither turns victor. 2:00

12. Solo harp lends a beautiful archaic feel in its rendition of the love theme. 0:59

13. Forlorn strings make the way for a somber horn statement of a fanfare, with foreboding drums alongside. 1:29

14. A purring bass clarinet starts a mysterious mood which leads into exclamations from the organ/percussion combo, during which raucous brass erupts. 2:49

15. Coils of serpentine clarinet trills buttressed by drum rolls & cymbal clashes vault their way into a high octane duet (the "Cronaca di guerra") between the love theme and insistent & shrill fanfares. 1:30

16. Savina creates an atmosphere of unease by utilizing the same instrumental pallet, only this time the horns do not play any fanfare and the clarinet ascends step-wise as the organ trickles down the octaves. 1:11

17. The love theme on strings & harp quickly transition into harsh sonorities which depict a kind of slave-labor motif with prominent anvil strikes serving as rhythm. 1:15

18. Another 'time of war' type of track, but this one ends with bittersweet strings. 1:32

19. Insistent brass notes bookend a mid-section of ominous portent issued on a battery of percussion instruments. 2:23

20. Pianissimo percussion rumblings lie underneath layers of morbid organ chords. A fanfare chorale appears out of nowhere and recedes as quickly as it came, yielding to further drum solos. 1:48

21. Rhythmic machine-like ostinatos on percussion toil away for a while (the "Concerto di morte") then subside to usher in pulses of a funereal organ note. 1:20

22. bell chimes undulate with one-note brass belches while the score's characteristic percussion crashes methodically; in this "Sera tenebrosa", a brass fanfare proceeds at a lugubrious pace until the cue builds up & ends with a cacophonous climax. 1:45

23. The percussion section partakes in a martial procession and marches into the brass section's melodramatic menace theme and horn-call fanfares. 2:29

24. Cascading harps along with noble horns lend a lofty introduction to the "Impronta romantica" facet of this soundtrack, which is rendered by the string section for the remaining three-quarters of the track. 1:55

25. Barking brass parallels the horn fanfare. Both subside and yield to suspenseful organ statements with waves of gongs and drum rhythms. 1:39

26. belligerent timpani poundings dominate this entire cue ("Un attio di sosta"), with now-quiet/now-loud eddies of static cymbal ripples. 1:15

27. The slave-labor motif returns with low-end piano jabs accompanying the anvil strikes as the bass clarinet performs the horn-call theme with flourishes from the singing saw. The clarinet probes around solo for a while after which the 'struggle' and love themes return. 2:34

28. The laborious motif from above returns with timpani replacing the piano, followed again by the struggle theme which this time around receives a celestial resolution. Thunderous crashes also returns to be held at bay by solo harp. The track ends with the horn-call theme played on the Ondes Martenot. 2:38

29. The victory theme is rendered by full orchestra, but soon the plaintive strings perform the struggle motif. Suspended gongs carry alternating notes from harp & piano, then the brassy menace motif. 3:38

30. Rumbling percussion continues throughout the passages for organ or singing saw, until brassy fanfares reappear to close out the cue. 3:04

31. A heroic brass chorale. 0:52

32. Chromatic chord progressions from the full orchestra follow a stately initial horn call. 1:15

33. The gong-like peals of the cymbals - which signified lethal elements throughout the duration - now transform into life-affirming proclamations with the company of the harps ("Immagine di donna"), and Carlo Savina recapitulates his prominent themes in triumphant turns. 1:30


In summary, URSUS NELLA TERRA DI FUOCO should no doubt appeal to the collectors of Italian peplum. There're aspects of the peplum which differentiate this genre from the Hollywood historical or religious epic. Peplum scores frequently employ fantastic elements and sometimes early electronics to impart a sense of awe - an awe more childlike and melodramatic than weightier 'serious' dramatics.

As with the fire in the title, Savina's URSUS music is also elemental. Although performed by musical instruments within the standard Western orchestra, this soundtrack distances itself from the Germanic Romanticism of the late 1800s (and of Golden Age Hollywood film scores) and harks back further into a simpler age of antiquity all the while remaining relevant to contemporary 20th century composition techniques. This URSUS does not sound like an Elektra or a Salome by Richard Strauss; there's no Wagnerian leitmotifs, per se. With the exception of the love theme (which is basically the only aspect of this score that is traditionally melodic), the score is comprised mostly of repeated phrases of musical cells. Sometimes a single note is reiterated multiple times before its assembly into a recognizable theme is revealed. Many times, percussion and keyboards simply sustain a single note for lengths of time not very common in film scores. Listeners expecting the music to tell its story in an operatic fashion may very well become frustrated with Savina's paucity of hummable melodies and his reliance upon the very textures of the instrumental sounds themselves. Savina's URSUS is no Miklos Rozsa biblical epic. If this URSUS is comparable to anything, I'd soonest liken it to Mario Nascimbene's BARABBAS with its sustained notes and gong peals and archaic musical modes.

Fans of peplum will likely have already gotten this Digitmovies album and won't need to rely upon my 4-years-later CD review.

Folks who don't ordinarily care about historical or mythical movies may be doing themselves a disservice, though, if they pass over an item such as Savina's URSUS.

This TERRA DI FUOCO may be of interest to the fans of Nascimbene's dinosaur scores for Hammer Films and/or Bernard Herrmann's soundtracks for the Ray Harryhausen fantasy movies.

Hope some FSMers out there are (or will be) mesmerized as much as I with Carlo Savina's fantastic scores from the early 1960s!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 8:20 AM   
 By:   slint   (Member)

That's interesting. I had a project similar to this, and most of the fun was to listen carefully to the different cues one by one, and then to extract some posters/reviews/photos of the film to put things in context, and make a nice presentation page, and also a review of the CD. That's a nice way to go back at soundtracks not listened in years. However, I kind of stopped because that requires too much time in front of the computer.

 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 10:50 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

However, I kind of stopped because that requires too much time in front of the computer.

I was off from work yesterday (USA's Columbus holiday), I wrote the whole thing on a Word document. Took me all day, basically. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 15, 2013 - 3:08 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 1:46 PM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Great report ToneRow I love Savina's score it is a feast for the ears.

Last weekend I received Rustichelli's Il Figlio Di Cleopatra very enjoyable recommended.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

Thank you for this analysis. I only wish that you had more days off from work so you could give us more of the same!

 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 2:40 PM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Samples
Ursus nella terra di fuoco
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ursus-nella-terra-fuoco-Savina/dp/B0065VIZJG/ref=sr_1_8?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1381959324&sr=1-8&keywords=Carlo+Savina


Check this out ToneRow

Le spie uccidono a Beirut
http://www.amazon.co.uk/spie-uccidono-Beirut-Savina-Carlo/dp/B00AXDJ4DS/ref=sr_1_20?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1381958090&sr=1-20&keywords=Carlo+Savina

 
 Posted:   Oct 16, 2013 - 4:16 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Thanks for your input guys!

I'll attempt to review more Italian soundtracks in details soon. smile

 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2013 - 9:45 PM   
 By:   ajhfsm   (Member)

This Savina was selected for my last cart flush. Thanks TR for giving it exposure.

Now why are those Europeans always leaving tracks untitled?

 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2013 - 9:50 PM   
 By:   ajhfsm   (Member)

This Savina was selected for my last cart flush. Thanks TR for giving it exposure.

Now why are those Europeans always leaving tracks untitled?

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 28, 2013 - 5:34 AM   
 By:   Angelillo   (Member)

Awesome !

After LA CRIPTA E L'INCUBO this will be my second Savina for sure !

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 28, 2013 - 7:14 AM   
 By:   slint   (Member)


Le spie uccidono a Beirut
http://www.amazon.co.uk/spie-uccidono-Beirut-Savina-Carlo/dp/B00AXDJ4DS/ref=sr_1_20?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1381958090&sr=1-20&keywords=Carlo+Savina


Unfortunately no CD quality version. When I emailed CAM they said it was amazon who did not want to sell a lossless version. When I emailed amazon, they never answered, rather lame! Why would they refuse to sell to potential costumers??

Any label has any interest in releasing this one?

 
 Posted:   Nov 30, 2013 - 12:12 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

This Savina was selected for my last cart flush. Thanks TR for giving it exposure.

Now why are those Europeans always leaving tracks untitled?


You're welcome, ajhfsm.

As for Italian CD tracks repeating the film's title, this was covered in a separate thread (whose title I forget).
I recall the conclusion was that the act of writing titles for album cues would require the author to be registered in Italy as an actual writer and therefore be elligible to collect writers' union payments.

Too expensive a prospect for a limited collectors item which, in all likelihood, is appreciated by only a few hundred aficionados worldwide...

 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2013 - 6:27 PM   
 By:   ajhfsm   (Member)

Percussive storms, brass snarls. Ursus can be furious, that has stuck with me on the first run, but it has so much more. Are those harp glissandi representing something like a dream sequence?

 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2013 - 10:31 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Are those harp glissandi representing something like a dream sequence?

Perhaps. I never watched the movie although wayoutwest provided a link to this URSUS over at YouTube.

Has ajhfsm become a fan of Carlo Savina? smile

 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2013 - 4:19 PM   
 By:   ajhfsm   (Member)

Are those harp glissandi representing something like a dream sequence?

Perhaps. I never watched the movie although wayoutwest provided a link to this URSUS over at YouTube.

Has ajhfsm become a fan of Carlo Savina? smile


The first Savina work I received was the playful House Of A Thousand Pleasures. So far in my Savina journey I find him to be of an attractive quality with much to offer my listening whim.

Piccioni is my favourite Italian discovery, I may be a fan of him, as much as I can be in that I would like to hear all his work.

Back to Ursus, is that the sound of a Theremin wavering (via right channel) over the organ and percussion on track 8?

 
 Posted:   Dec 23, 2013 - 3:33 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Back to Ursus, is that the sound of a Theremin wavering (via right channel) over the organ and percussion on track 8?

Good question. It may be a Theramin, but I don't think so.
There's likely no documentation on the instruments used at those recording sessions.

It seems rather un-economical to use an electronic instrument such as the Ondes Martenot on merely one track, so perhaps an electronic instrument was utilized on multiple cues?

When I've listened to this album (quite frequently, mind you) that wailing sounds too acoustic to me which is why I think it is a singing saw. One can hear the same sound during his LA CRIPTA E L'INCUBO.

When budget and interest allows, you should consider getting LA CRIPTA E L'INCUBO and also L'UOMO CHE RIDE (THE MAN WHO LAUGHS).

 
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