A Fistful of Soundtracks

24. April 2019
Stefano Pocci

The Italian duo consisting of Rosario Giuliani, on alto and soprano sax, and Luciano Biondini, on accordion, showcased their latest project, Cinema Italiano, at JazzKaar. It is an album from the two renowned Italian composers that aims to celebrate the famous soundtrack music of Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota.


The risks in this kind of operation are quite high, because interpreting such well-known material, especially with a small ensemble – considering that the originals were performed by large orchestras – could produce doubtful results. The Italian pair however, while treating the soundtracks respectfully enough, that is, letting the audience recognise the melodies, added their own distinctive mark: a smooth, perceptible and harmonious interplay that pervaded the entire concert.


The first number was the main theme from Federico Fellini’s movie La Dolce Vita, which features a saxophone in its original form as well, so the adaptation to a jazzy ensemble seemed almost natural. Then it was the turn of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, composed by Ennio Morricone: a tender theme re-iterated various times and in different ways by the duo.


Bianco e nero (black and white), an original tune composed by Giuliani, set a different pace. Biondini created a fast, constantly moving background with his accordion and Giuliani seemed to dodge and avoid all the pitfalls and traps that this unpredictable soundscape presented him. On occasion, Giuliani moved from alto sax to soprano.


The duo returned to soundtracks with probably the most intimate piece of the set: Deborah’s theme, from Once upon a Time in America, the Sergio Leone movie. The theme ends the movie with Robert De Niro’s dreamy expression in an opium den, and for few instants time seemed to freeze in Punane Maja to allow the public to linger on the notes of such a haunting tune.


Back to Fellini and two works of his, the music for which was again composed by Nino Rota: La Strada and 8 1/2. The latter turned out to be the funniest track of the evening with crescendos, diminuendos, lots of stop and go that perfectly suited the unmistakable marching theme that closed the movie.


The concert finished with an encore, a composition by Biondini called What Is There, What Is Not – where Giuliani again switched to soprano – that sounded like a fitting complement to the previous tune by Giuliani with its fast tempo and its ups and downs.


Overall it was an enjoyable concert that will hopefully inspire people to watch these masterpieces of Italian cinema, if they haven’t already. In the meantime, we are left with their music.


Punane Maja, Tuesday, April 23, 7:45pm

Rosario Giuliani: alto and soprano sax

Luciano Biondini: accordion



  1. La Dolce Vita (Nino Rota)
  2. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Ennio Morricone)
  3. Bianco e nero (Rosario Giuliani)
  4. Deborah’s Theme (Ennio Morricone)
  5. La Strada (Nino Rota)
  6. La passerella di 8 ½ (Nino Rota)
  7. What Is There, What Is Not (Luciano Biondini)

Check out photos from the concert here