My esteem for Ingmar Bergman could not fail to create a musical landscape for him, dedicated to one of his best-known works: The Seventh Seal (I. Bergman, 1957) . As always, builder of incredible soundscapes, Gerhard Hallstatt (Allerseelen) gave me this opportunity, offering me music worthy of an allegorical painting, that in my eyes well represented Death and the Knight, or Death playing chess. The iconography concerning the game of chess with Death is very ancient and obviously precedes the indelible cinematic imagery that Ingmar Bergman has given us back. Just to reconstruct a couple of passages in this regard, I would like to mention the fresco “Death playing chess” (in Swedish: Döden spelar schack, 1480) which is a monumental painting in Täby Church. We do know, however, that it was the engraving by Albrecht Dürer, (Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513) that mainly inspired Bergman. This run-up between Death and knight, (in a grotesque key), can also be found in the movie “Brancaleone alle Crociate” (Mario Monicelli, 1970) where an incredible Vittorio Gassmann, with a typically Italian spirit, faces Death in a less doubtful and more arrogant way. Returning to Northern Europe, encounters with Death (Körkarlen, Victor Sjöström 1921) and Macabre Dances are part of an obsessively present iconography.
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman
Bass: Marcel P.
Percussion: Bengt Ekerot
Tonkunst: Gerhard Hallstatt
Lyrics: Ingmar Bergman
Returning to our song: based on the screenplay of “The Seventh Seal”, two voices intertwine with each other, in a vocal performance that is kept on its toes until the end: Death and the Knight. Death: subtle, pimp. The Knight: haughty, but afraid.
This is the fascinating Death of Jean Cocteau in “Le Testament d’Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi!”, directed by Jean Cocteau (1960) and interpreted by the charming María Casarès: a Death crossing the mirrors wearing black rubber gloves; a Death that moves away from the cliché of the femme fatale, to return rather to that of a delicately implacable character. Experimenting with my voice and interpreting two characters at the same time, (at a distance of only one bar), is an operation bordering on schizophrenia that once again allows me to get out of myself and enter as a demon, now in a body, now in another.
Allerseelen’s music keeps you on your toes, but does not fall into the dramatic (as one would expect on this subject) and this is what makes it special, similar to the fresco mentioned above. The drama is supported instead by the bass of Marcel P. (bass player of Allerseelen and founder of Miel Noir project) which takes us into the depths of the discourse and invites us to stay there constantly, binding to the allegorical melody of Gerhard Hallstatt.
What should we expect after this? A song about the Dance of Death or about the End of Times seems inevitable.