Here's a "concept album" that really works. Roland Pöntinen's collection of piano music used in films (with one exception discussed below) not only is an attractive idea on its own, but also is a showcase for the pianist's interpretive skills and an enticing survey of keyboard music from Bach to Ligeti and beyond. The program opens with Pöntinen's own very accomplished three-part improvisation on Nino Rota's themes from Fellini's Amarcord, a film I personally loathe (I know, it's a classic) but one wonderfully scored nonetheless. There's the first prelude from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (used in Adlon's Bagdad Café), lots of Chopin (from Polanski's The Pianist, Berman'sRead more Viskningar Och Rop and Höstsonaten), Schubert's Moment musical in A-flat major (from Malle's Au revoir les enfants), and most refreshingly, two numbers from Janácek's On an Overgrown Path as heard in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
The one exception is the inclusion of a short, comparatively charming piece opportunistically called "Cinema Music", written by the pianist's brother Stefan. I could make an issue of this: technically it has no business on the disc, and its inclusion bespeaks of a certain amateurishness at odds with the integrity of the project as a whole. But the music makes an effective and certainly innocuous foil to Ligeti's Musica Ricercata No. 2 (from Kubrick's otherwise dreadful Eyes Wide Shut), and segues effectively into two Debussy pieces (Des pas sur la neige and Clair de lune) used in Fellini's E la nave va. So no harm, no foul, and in any case Pöntinen's performances are uniformly excellent, the sonics typically exceptional, and the whole disc an unalloyed pleasure from beginning to end. If the concept appeals, go for it.
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