Monday, January 3, 2011
SCHUMANN/BERGMAN/FANNY AND ALEXANDER/MUSIC IN THE DARK
Sometimes, sitting in the dark of a movie theater, a piece of music you do not know appears in the movie. The power of the notes challenges you to stay focused on the action on the screen and as soon as the film ends you set out to find this musicas quickly as possible. Such was the case for me with the second movement of Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op.44 in Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece, "Fanny and Alexander" (Trailer here). In the opening of Bergman's masterpiece, this theme appears (1 minute and forty nine seconds in the linked clip). At least in part because of the Nordic winter setting of the film, the second movement I will always associate with "Winter Music". The film itself is truly transcendent, and, I believe, Bergman's last feature film. The 4 hour Criterion version is available and well worth the experience. It is magical, haunted, dark, and filled with the wonder and terror of childhood.
A complete version of this movement by a masterful group of players, including Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky can be found
I came to Schumann late in my life. Guiomar Novaes' versions of Kinderscene, Papillions and Carnaval for some reason came to life for me when I was working in Seoul in my early forties. I have listened to this recording ever since, and Schumann's music has become a constant in my life.