Today 130e iconic movie star Charlie Chaplin’s birthday is celebrated with a new album, “Chaplin’s smile” a collection of his music specially arranged for violin and piano.
The album features violinist Philippe Quint, who is joined on two tracks by his friend and collaborator, violinist Joshua Bell.
Working with arrangers Charles Coleman and Leon Gurvitch, Quint has spent over three years browsing dozens of songs and soundtracks written by Chaplin to select the songs best suited for violin and piano; he is accompanied on the album by pianist Marta Aznavoorian.
Although Chaplin is legendary as an actor wearing huge shoes, a bowler hat and a small mustache, he is much less well known as the composer of almost all of the music in his films.
Quint noted: âGrowing up in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, we had very little access to artists outside of the former USSR. However, Charlie Chaplin was an exception.
âWhen I arrived in the United States in 1991, I was finally able to acquire Charlie’s films on VHS. I have looked at them hundreds of times, each time noticing something new; his comedy was brilliant and touching. A few years ago, while I was looking for a new project, I came across “Smile” by Chaplin. I knew the many different versions of the song by Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson, and Placido Domingo, but I didn’t know Chaplin was the songwriter.
âI became curious to see if there was more music written by him and, to my surprise (and thanks to YouTube and Google), I discovered a whole catalog of his works. Almost Mozartian in its grace and charm, Chaplin’s music is deceptively simple, yet speaks directly to your heart.
Among Chaplin’s compositions on the album are “Terry’s Theme” from the 1952 film, Spotlight; “Smile” from the 1936 film, Modern times, for which Quint is joined by Bell; “Weeping Willows”, “Now That It’s Over” and “Mandolin Serenade”, from the 1957 film A king in New York, with Bell joining Quint the third; “Tango Bitter” from the 1947 film, Mr. Verdoux; “Falling Star”, from the 1940 film, The great dictator, composed with Meredith Willson, who also wrote The man of music; and the music for the 1931 film, City lights, Chaplin’s first film score.
The album also includes “The Kid Fantasy” by The child, a 1921 silent film written, produced and directed by and with Chaplin. The second highest grossing film in the year of its release, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.
Quint added that “discovering Chaplin’s music was as much a blessing as it was perhaps the greatest challenge I have ever encountered musically speaking. “A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely man” as Chaplin describes himself was easy to spot in his musical writings and it was my mission to preserve the simplicity of his moving melodies while adding a content that would be virtuoso and interesting for violin and piano.
Chaplin’s granddaughter, Kiera Chaplin, said: âI think it’s amazing that in 2019, 130 years after he was born, my grandfather Charlie Chaplin is still here and loved by so many people, that even one hundred and five years after his first movie was made, he still surprises people. Philippe Quintthe new album of Chaplin Smile allows him to be discovered by a whole new audience as a talented composer, a side of him that many people did not know.