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Charlie CHAPLIN (1889-1977) Chaplin’s Smile
Philippe Quint (violin)
Marta Aznavoorian (piano)
Transcriptions by Quint and Aznavoorian
rec. Dimenna Center, New York & WMFT Studios, Chicago
Recording details not provided WARNER CLASSICS9362490180 [55:20]
Violinist Philippe Quint and pianist Marta Aznavoorian have collaborated to create a remarkable album, Chaplin’s Smile, to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Chaplin.
Quint is a well-known Russian-American violinist and has performed with many of the world’s finest orchestras. Born in Leningrad in 1974, he first studied music at Moscow’s School for Gifted Musicians. After moving to the US, he earned degrees at the Julliard School in New York. Aznavoorian is a classical pianist from Chicago and performs regularly with orchestras throughout the US and abroad, as well as with the Lincoln Trio, a popular chamber ensemble. London-born Chaplin was an actor, clown, story teller, scriptwriter, composer and creative genius who made his way to the US in 1910 with a touring vaudeville company. He launched his film career in the silent movie era and ended it with his final film, A Countess from Hong Kong, in 1967. As well as producing and directing his films, he also created his own scores. Chaplin never learned to read or write music; he enlisted the help of a number of associates and arrangers, who would listen to Chaplin hum and sing and then transcribe his tunes. Quint and Aznavoorian have selected thirteen numbers from Chaplin’s musical legacy and arranged them for violin and piano for this album. They are joined by violinist Joshua Bell on two of the selections.
The film Limelight was first released in 1952, then re-released in 1972 when it won an Oscar for Best Dramatic Score. Eternally, also known as The Terry Theme, is the most famous tune from the movie. Aznavoorian begins the number with a dramatic piano introduction, followed by Quint performing the epic melody over several octaves, mixing light-heartedness and tender passion with astonishing technique. Smile appeared in the 1936 film Modern Times. Inspired by Puccini’s Tosca, Chaplin composed the melody, and after lyrics by Geoffrey Parsons and John Turner were added, the tune became an instant hit for Nat King Cole. For this version, Aznavoorian provides piano accompaniment for two, as violinist Joshua Bell joins the pair and the two virtuosos alternate leading while the other harmonizes.
The song Weeping Willows appeared in the 1957 film A King in New York. The bluesy number ambles along with a repeating theme, slowing building tension and speed, and climaxes with an amazing display of violin acrobatics. Also from this film score comes one of my favorites, the lovely and evocative Mandolin Serenade. Bell joins in again, and the three musicians transform a simple Chaplin melody with a dazzling arrangement to create one of the highlights of this disc. Love Song, composed in 1969, was written to his wife Oona. The song was intended for a film project called The Freak, which was never made. Aznavoorian and Quint take turns leading the charming melody through several iterations and key changes. In 1929 Chaplin created Beautiful, Wonderful Eyes, intending it to be used as the theme for the Blind Girl in the 1931 classic film City Lights. Unfortunately, the song never made it into the film. The lively tango is marvellously performed by Aznavoorian on the keys, while the violin soars above.
The sound quality is excellent. There is no booklet; credits are listed on the back of the cover sheet.
1. Eternally (The Terry Theme from Limelight) (3:44)
2. Smile (Theme from Modern Times) (3:59)
3. Weeping Willows (3:19)
4. Love Song (3:28)
5. Tango Bitterness (2:46)
6. Now That It’s Ended (3:09)
7. Mandolin Serenade (3:59)
8. Falling Star (3:37)
9. City Lights Suite (8:17)
10. Beautiful, Wonderful Eyes (3:35)
11. The Kid Fantasy (9:53)
12. Tango Natasha (2:33)
13. Crossing the Dance Floor (3:01)
Joshua Bell (violin) (tracks 2 and 7)
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