Press Release from Alhambra:
Alhambra Records is proud to present on this CD the world premiere release in stereo of Angelo Francesco Lavagnino’s complete original score for the 1961 drama IL RELITTO which gives further proof of the enormous inventiveness and versatility of the composer. IL RELITTO was adapted from the 1949 novel “The Wastrel” by Frederic Wakeman and directed by Greek director Michael Cacoyannis, who just a few years later would get his biggest commercial succes with the smash hit ZORBA THE GREEK. The leading actors of this unusual Italian-Greek co-production which was entered into the official competition of the 1961 Cannes film festival were US star Van Heflin and the young Greek beauty Ellie Lambeti who had already starred in several of Cacoyannis´previous Greek movies of the 50s.
The action of the film takes place in the Caribbean where the wealthy adventurer Duncan Bell (Heflin) quarrels with his wife Liana (Lambeti) and leaves the cocktail party he is hosting to board his motorboat together with his 10-year-old son Cam (Michael Stellman). Some way out, an accident causes the boat to explode and the two remain afloat, clinging to the debris for hours. While they are drifting on the ocean, Duncan thinks back on his troubled life which is shown within four flashbacks which are not presented chronologically.
In 1961 Lavagnino had already become well-known for his compositions for films about the sea and about exotic locations so that he was an almost logical choice for Cacoyannis´ IL RELITTO. However, this score is much less bright and flamboyant than many of his others around that time and is for the most part more subdued and introverted. Lavagnino´s task in this case has been to musically balance the tension-filled claustrophobic atmosphere on the sea at night to which the two shipwrecked persons are exposed and the shimmers of hope and light which keep them alive.
The deceptive Main Title which opens the CD contains typical carefree instrumental calypso music of the Caribbean islands as it accompanies the cocktail party at the beginning of the film whereas the symphonic underscore is dominated by two beautiful themes which appear in various guises throughout the film. One is the romantic love theme for Duncan and Liana and the other one is the boy´s theme and could almost be named a delicate lullaby – both themes get more and more intertwined during the last third of the movie.
The score has its fair share of dramatic and suspenseful moments with imaginative use of instrumental colours, but there is also a lovely accordion musette for a Paris flashback episode which shows that Lavagnino could write really charming French-flavoured music as well.
In 1961 RCA in Italy had released a top-rare 45rpm EP in mono with about 14 minutes of the IL RELITTO score whereas our present CD album offers the first ever stereo release of the complete varied score which can now be fully enjoyed by all the fans of the composer and of classic Italian film music.
This exciting CD project – the tenth in our Lavagnino series – has only been possible thanks to the generous support of the three daughters of the composer – Bianca, Iudica and Alessandra Lavagnino -, who still had open reel tape copies of the original master tapes in their personal archive which we were allowed to use. Our CD edition which contains a 12-page booklet with extensive liner notes and numerous stills from the movie will be limited to 300 copies.