Classics Today 10/10.
Roland Pöntinen has a history of devising original recitals for BIS – Music for a Rainy Day (BIS-CD- 300) and Evening Bells (BIS-CD-1164) are only two of them. For Pianorama he has gone to the cinema for inspiration, and the result is as varied and imaginative as always.
From the very beginning – even during the era of the silent movie – music has been recognised as a major ingredient of the cinematic experience, and great filmmakers have been extremely painstaking in their choice of music. When selecting from existing music, directors have been particularly fond of using works for solo piano – maybe a subconscious harkening back to the piano player of the cinemas of the 1920s? Several such works have been brought together here, from films such as Autumn Sonata and Cries and Whispers (Bergman), Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick), The Pianist (Polanski) and Diva (J-J Beneix). Atmospheric in its own right, the music by Debussy, Chopin, Schubert, Bach and Ligeti becomes even more evocative when combined with often striking pictures. The great partnership of Federico Fellini and Nino Rota also features on the disc, with Pöntinen’s own improvisations on Rota’s themes for Amarcord, perhaps Fellini’s best loved film.
Roland Pöntinen has often been praised for his versatility and musical intelligence: ‘In Pöntinen's hands, Liszt's Christmas Tree lights up, blazing with fervour, intelligence and poetry’ (BIS-CD-1164, BBC Music Magazine) and ‘this performance – expansive and impassioned without self-indulgence – deserves a high place among current recommendations’ (BIS-CD-1417, Gramophone). These qualities make him the perfect exponent of this varied and atmospheric programme, which is accompanied by liner notes in the form of an interview with Pöntinen made by Nils Petter Sundgren, doyen of Swedish film critics.