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Ingmar Bergman - Music from the Films
Roland Pöntinen (piano)
Stenhammar Quartet (Schumann: Piano Quintet)
Torleif Thedéen (cello) (Bach Sarabandes)
rec. 2017, Grünewaldsalen, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden; 1995/96, Länna Church, Sweden (Bach Sarabandes)
BIS BIS-2377 SACD [78:28]

Ever since 1959, when Swedish Radio started the popular programme “Summer”, where known and lesser-known people are invited to talk about their interests or, simply, about themselves, Ingmar Bergman had been asked to contribute. He always said ‘no’ due to lack of interest and time. In 2003 Marie Nyreröd made three TV-documentaries about Bergman and when she the next year asked him if he was willing to accept participating in “Summer” with Marie as producer, he said ‘yes’. The reason was that he thought there was too little talk about music in the documentaries. ‘Now we will talk only about music’. Music had been a great interest all through his life and music played a central role in most of his fifty films. His production of Die Zauberflöte became a worldwide success. When he directed the Swedish premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Stockholm Royal Opera, the composer said that it was the best reading of the work he had seen. In 1991 he directed Daniel Börtz’s Backanterna (The Baccae) after Euripides, also at the Royal Opera with a very young Peter Mattei in a leading role. It was later produced for TV with the original cast and the soundtrack is still available on CD (Caprice Records).

Bergman’s interest in classical music is obvious also in his earliest films. Musik i mörker (1948) is the earliest film represented on the present disc (tr. 2 & 4) and it is about a pianist who loses his sight in an accident. The soundtrack brims over with piano music, but also orchestral music. And traditional orchestral film music which emphasises the moods was also an important ingredient in his earlier films. His favourite composer was Erik Nordgren (1913 – 1992) with whom he collaborated in 17 films. Some of his music is available on a Naxos CD (originally Marco Polo), which is well worth exploring. But from Såsom i en spegel (1961) there is a change in his attitude. He had then married concert pianist Käbi Laretei, and in a way ‘music had now developed a voice of its own. Contrary to the usual way of using music in films, with Ingmar Bergman the visual images reinforce the music’, as Marie Nyreröd says in her notes. There is still music by Erik Nordgren here but Bach’s Sarabande from the D minor Cello Suite (tr. 13) points out the future direction. It is a fascinating journey to follow in Bergman’s musical footsteps, from the aforementioned Musik i mörker (1948) to his very last production Saraband (2003) (tr. 1). You may also note that he sometimes returns to the same music. That particular Sarabande was also heard in Viskningar och rop (1972) and Schumann’s Aufschwung from Musik i mörker returned in Sommarnattens leende (1955). On the Nordgren disc there is original music from that film.

A few words about the choice of music and musicians for this recording. When Marie Nyreröd made her documentaries back in 2003 she chose music by the same composers that Bergman frequently used for his films: Schubert, Schumann and Chopin, and she asked her neighbour, Roland Pöntinen, to record the music. Pöntinen was Bergman’s favourite pianist. So it was only logical to employ him for this issue. Having heard him live on many occasions and having a considerable quantity of his CDs on my shelves, I can only agree with Bergman in his appreciation. In the movement from Schumann’s Piano Quintet he allies himself with the excellent Stenhammar Quartet in a riveting reading of the exuberant music. I wouldn’t mind hearing them in a complete performance of this, one of Schumann’s greatest compositions.

As for the three sarabandes by Bach they are played by Bergman’s favourite cellist, Torleif Thedéen. The recordings are not new, they were made in 1995/1996 when Thedéen set down the complete works. Issued in 2000 they were universally hailed by the international music press, and this recording of the sarabande from the fifth cello suite (tr. 1) is the one Bergman chose for his last project, the TV production Saraband in 2003, so what we hear is in effect the soundtrack from the film. This was also the last piece of music that Ingmar Bergman played in his broadcast in 2004. In the documentation for this issue there are a few quotations in facsimile from his manuscript, which consisted of only some main points. The last three sentences say: ‘Where does the music come from? Bach is playing four-hands with our Lord. Comfort and relief.’

Comfort and relief is also what this disc conveys: superlative music played by superlative musicians in a superlative recording. It is SACD but I listened in traditional CD Stereo. A disc for film buffs and music buffs alike.

Göran Forsling

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)
1. Sarabande from Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 [3:47]
Viskningar och rop & Saraband (Cries and Whispers & Saraband)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856)
2. Aufschwung from Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 [3:17]
Musik i mörker & Sommarnattens leende (Music in Darkness & Smiles of a Summer Night)
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810 – 1849)
3. Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1 [5:04]
Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander)
4. Prelude in D minor, Op. 28 No. 24 [2:36]
Musik i mörker
Johann Sebastian BACH
5. Sarabande from Cello Suite No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 [5:02]
Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
6. Fantasy in C minor, K 475 [12:26]
Ansikte mot ansikte (Face to Face)
Frédéric CHOPIN
7. Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17 No. 4 [3:43]
Viskningar och rop
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
8. Andante sostenuto. Second movement of Sonata i B flat major, D 960 [9:37]
Larmar och gör sig till (In the Presence of a Clown)
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685 – 1757)
9. Sonata in D major, K 535 [3:11]
Djävulens öga (The Devil’s Eye)
Frédéric CHOPIN
10. Prelude in A minor, Op. 28 No. 2 [2:17]
11. Sonata in E major, K 380 [4:18]
Djävulens öga
Johann Sebastian BACH
12. Variation 25 from Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 [6:39]
Tystnaden (The Silence)
13. Sarabande from Cello Suite NO. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 [5:43]
Såsom i en spegel (Through a Glass Darkly)
14. In modo d’una Marcia. Second movement of Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44 [8:44]
Fanny och Alexander


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