L'IMPERO DEL SOLE (EMPIRE OF THE SUN) was directed in 1956 by Enrico Gras and Mario Craveri, for whom Lavagnino had already before set to music the films Magia verde (1953) and Continente perduto, and is a visually impressive documentary movie about Peru and its exotic scenery. Starting from the dead and ruin cities of the Incas, the cinematic journey leads from the lake Titicaca to the carnival of the Indios in the Andes. With an adventurous little train we get into the primitive Amazon territory, which is strongly contrasted with the urban atmosphere of the capital Lima. After short stays with the black Guanero workers and the cotton pickers along the coast, the cinematic trip ends with an unusual bullfight from which the condor as symbolic figure of the empire of the sun comes off triumphantly. The expeditionary narrative is framed by the romance of the two characters Juana and Pedro which with wooing, marriage and birth stands as a metaphor for life eternally renewing itself.
Lavagnino has certainly written one of his most beautifully sounding, most sensual and also thematically richest works for L'impero del sole. The melodic basis is established through the enchanting and charming main theme “Canzone di Lima” (by the way also whistled by the composer himself in tracks 1 and 4) and the elegant love theme for Juana and Pedro, from which a gorgeous music for orchestra and choir with a duration of more than 70 minutes unfolds itself before the listener - a music which is colourfully orchestrated and which besides the exotic sound palette and the exciting rhythms also allows sufficient space for glowing romanticism. Particularly typical of Lavagnino's style are the high string registers, the harp glissandi which crop up in many places, the extensive use of the choir - for this score Lavagnino for the first time had at his disposal the choral ensemble of choir director Franco Potenza, with whom he became friends very soon - as well as the incorporation of exotic instruments and unusual sound combinations (as for example in the two tracks “The Cemetery of the Birds” and “The Felling of the Forest”). The compositional density and the fine-tuning are even more remarkable if one bears in mind that Lavagnino had composed and orchestrated the score within a period of just 11 days.
Until now only about 20 minutes of the original recording of L'IMPERO DEL SOLE have been available on a double EP which had been published in Italy as well as in France at the film's release date in 1956. Therefore on this CD the complete score with 73 minutes, which Lavagnino had composed for the film, can now be heard for the first time.
We especially want to express our sincere thanks to the three daughters of the composer - Alessandra, Bianca and Iudica Lavagnino -, who for this CD release made available to us the mastertape copy which Lavagnino himself had preserved in his private archive. Without their active support this ambitious CD project would have certainly not been possible.
We also want to thank the famous sound engineer Federico Savina who transferred the open reel tape in Rome in an extremely careful way. 1000 edition.
1. FROM THE INCAS TO THE URU 8:58
[Main Title (Canzone di Lima)/The Uru/Juana and Pedro]
2. THE CARAVAN 5:58
3. CARNIVAL OF THE INDIOS 10:08
[Village Festival/Dawn on Ash Wednesday
] 4. JOURNEY TO THE AMAZON TERRITORY 8:16
[The Little Train of the Andes(Canzone di Lima)/The Basin of the Amazons/Child-Birth]
5. ALONG THE AMAZON RIVER 6:37
[River Journey/Snake Dance/ The Jungle]
6. THE YAGUA INDIOS 9:59
[The Fight/The Felling of the Forest/Cormorants/Sea Lions/Pelicans and Cormorants]
7. THE GUANEROS 6:21
[The Guaneros/ The Cemetery of the Birds]
8. COTTON HARVEST AND MARRIAGE 7:47
[Desert Wind/Cotton Harvest/Juana and Pedro/Fiesta]
9. BULLFIGHT AND FINALE 9:13
[The Mothers/Catching the Condor/Bullfight/Finale]
10. INTERVIEW WITH A.F. LAVAGNINO
(from the 1976 TV program ?Anche questa e musica“) 6:30