Alhambra Records in Germany is very proud to release for the first time in full stereo one of the most important scores by famous Italian composer Angelo Francesco Lavagnino which has never before been available on CD: L’ULTIMO PARADISO (THE LAST PARADISE) from 1957. This wonderful CD project – our third Lavagnino CD after L’IMPERO DEL SOLE and CONTINENTE PERDUTO – has only been possible thanks to the generous support of the three daughters of the composer – Bianca, Iudica and Alessandra Lavagnino -, who still have a copy of the original mastertape in stereo in their personal archive. The original open reel tape has been transferred for our CD by famous sound engineer Federico Savina in Rome.
With L’ULTIMO PARADISO the genre of the exotic documentary films so popular in Italy during the mid-50s reached its peak in 1957. As third part of the unofficial travelogue trilogy it became an immense international hit, especially in Germany after it had been awarded there with the Silver Bear prize at the Berlin film festival in June 1957. It was shot on location in Polynesia where the film crew had spent nine months to discover the lives, loves and traditions of the native people and of course it was released – as was almost the custom for these large-scale pictures at that time – in colour, Cinemascope and stereophonic sound. Director Folco Quilici had always been fascinated with the relationship between man and the sea, and it is this theme which did also find its deep expression in the visually stunning and spectacular imagery of L’ULTIMO PARADISO. The breathtaking exotic scenery and the erotic scenes with the bare-breasted native girls – quite daring for that time – did contribute enormously to the commercial success of the movie. Quilici opted for a combination of documentary and feature film elements to reflect in three different episodes on the idyllic life of the Polynesian natives and to contrast nature with corrupted civilization.
The composer Angelo Francesco Lavagnino drew his inspiration from original Polynesian music which was recorded by the sound engineers of the film and from records with local folklore, but of course he tried to integrate these influences into his own characteristic symphonic style. His richly melodic and sweeping score for L’ULTIMO PARADISO soon became one of his most popular and successful works with which he is identified till today. The joyful and thrilling main theme „Song of the South Sea“, introduced by exotic percussion and enriched by vocalising choir, immediately paints a lively musical picture of those tropical islands with their blue lagoons, wild palms and barely-clad native girls. As is typical of Lavagnino’s style, the colourful orchestrations and the extensive use of choir play an important part throughout this varied score. The lilting and ear-catching theme for the „Sunrise at Papeete“, whistled by Lavagnino himself and accompanied by strummed guitar, is one of the reasons for the popularity of the score and became an instant hit after the film’s release.
Till now 15 tracks with only about 27 minutes of the original recording of L’ULTIMO PARADISO had been available in mono on a rare German Polydor LP from 1957 which was later reissued on a Japanese LP in 1983 and also (together with some tracks from CONTINENTE PERDUTO on an Italian Polydor LP in the same year. We are therefore very proud that we can now release for the very first time on CD the complete score in chronological order with more than 50 minutes (plus some bonus tracks with about 20 minutes) in full stereo as it was originally intended which is quite sensational for an Italian soundtrack from 1957. Only two tracks („The Lagoon“, „The Call of the Isles“) were missing and one („Shells“) was damaged on Lavagnino’s own mastertape copy which we could use so that we had to take these three cues from the LP record itself.
This CD edition which has a 12-page booklet will be limited to 500 copies.
01 Song Of The South Sea (Main Title) 1:29
02 Shells* – Children’s Idyll – The Children and the Nurse-Shark – Atemi and Maeva 6:13
03 The Lagoon* 1:39
04 Pearl Diving (Edit) 4:01
05 When The Day Was Over 1:49
06 Maeva and Terei – Farewell Song 3:47
07 Oiseau des iles – Coral Mines 2:35
08 Cutting the Coconut Palms – July 13th 2:14
09 Pauline – The Boat-Bus to Papeete 1:17
10 The Festival of July 14th 2:20
11 Sunrise at Papeete 2:13
12 Early In The Morning At The Lido 2:02
13 The Call Of The Isles* 1:31
14 Sunrise At Papeete – Dreamy Isles 3:12
15 Storm On The Sottovento Isles 2:15
16 Teora, The Most Beautiful Girl Of Bora Bora 2:25
17 Fishermen’s Festivity 3:08
18 The First Strike of the Harpoon 1:10
19 The God Of Love – Gathering Flowers 4:34
20 Good Welcome Dance – Announcement of Teora-Mauru’s Wedding 2:29
21 Finale 3:03
22 Jumping From The Tower 2:18
23 Pearl Diving (Original Version) 7:39
24 Luna Park 3:40
25 At Quinn’s 1:32
26 Finale (With Native Percussion Source) 4:37