Pino Donaggio

" Donaggio's score to Sisi is utterly attractive "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Sisi is a 2009 an international co-produced TV Film, a retelling of the famed, but rather an uninteresting trilogy with the enchanting Romy Schneider as Elisabeth von Österreich-Ungarn (aka Sissi, Sisi). It is the third of a series of TV productions, arguably another, unofficial trilogy, expanding on the world of Sisi with the 2001 Sophie - Sissis kleine Schwesterm (wonderful score by Annette Focks & Signi Muller) and Kronprinz Rudolf in 2006, which includes yet another wonderful score by Ludwig Eckman & Jörg Magnus Pfeil. Italian composer Pino Donaggio scored the third, and it's difficult to ascertain which one of three is best in terms of music. While they share melodic continuity similar to Anton Prof's trilogy of the 1960s, they mostly lack some unattractive typical scoring traits of that period.

Donaggio's score to Sisi is utterly attractive. It is a score full of wonderful orchestral thematic continuity such exquisite orchestrations, full of moments of lush and elegant grandeur, some of poignant 'brink of war' darker shades and some unavoidable, wonderfully written pieces of melodrama. To speak in clichéd terms, it is a wonderful experience from start to finish and does everything accordingly, but this is entirely true. Donaggio's ability to write such a score is simply impressive. However, the wide range of emotion in this orchestral score is so traditional, slightly tapping into the style of the old trilogy and some obvious references to existing waltzes, especially in 'Grand ball in Venice', marking this cue as the only rather uninteresting in an overall spectacular score. I am almost ashamed to point out that is the music to Sisi is perhaps a bit too comfortable, but that is also evident in various other period pieces by numerous other composers.

The opening cue ' Sissi (2:30)' is slightly good at summarizing the score as a whole. It opens with ominous strings shades and harpsichord, continued by an interesting woodwind melody, directly quoting a theme from his previous score, Oorlogswinter – Donaggio does it again in 'Sissi's anxiety' - to build to a classic and epic lush outburst with a rising string figure (one of the things that is regularly revisited) and choir, to switch to the actual main theme, a memorable light, playful rendition with charming piano, woodwinds and lush strings.

As said before, the orchestrations and wide range of variations on the many themes are simply spectacular. The main themes goes through such an inspiring number of variations, it never once becomes tiresome. Also, there's a love theme for Sissi and Franz, a tragic theme for her mother Sofia and several others, each treated in a similar masterful manner.

Pino Donaggio's score is in every way an illuminating experience, including a wealth of rich themes and orchestral continuity, though it is slightly on the unavoidable safe side, but there's also so much of the material that brings back the greatest strengths and trademarks of the composer.

The score release by Cinevox is a perfect representation of the score. I have listened to the recording sessions, which show some remarkable additional material, while I couldn't really give the mediocre TV film my undivided attention to grasp the full brilliance of Donaggio’s intentions. Sisi is a fortress of goodwill, written in the familiar costume drama tradition, but it does pay off, which is perhaps an understatement in describing this incredible score.

1. Sissi (02:30)
2. House of remembrances (01:20)
3. The garden of innocence (02:07)
4. Grand ball in Venice (04:14)
5. Sissi's anxiety (02:03)
6. A trace of sadness (02:46)
7. Sevastopolys (01:32)
8. Wounded soldiers (03:02)
9. Lake Starnberg (01:56)
10. Arrival in Bad Ischl (01:37)
11. Danes lessons (01:01)
12. Dress fitting (00:53)
13. Wedding in Augustinerkirche (01:37)
14. Pregnancy (01:45)
15. Sissi and Franz (02:23)
16. Journey to Italy (01:15)
17. Military decisions (02:43)
18. Death of Sofia (02:25)
19. The dream (02:27)
20. Return to life (02:14)
21. Sofia (01:37)
22. A vision in Venice (01:01)
23. Family recovered (02:24)
24. The decision (01:18)
25. The people's embrace (01:31)

Total Duration: 00:49:41

(written 27-07-2020)
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(total of 1 votes - average 5/5)

Released by

Cinevox (regular release 2009)