The sum of Charlie Chaplin’s musical legacy is often and incorrectly considered to be the 1954 song, Smile, which began decades earlier as a love theme in the film Modern Times. For his Warner debut, violinist Philippe Quint, accompanied by pianist Marta Aznavoorian, and joined on two tracks by violinist Joshua Bell, reveals the true depths of Chaplin’s musical mind.
Chaplin composed for most of his career, publishing music from 1916, through the silent film era, and from 1931 composing film scores for the remainder of his life. He claimed music had “entered his soul” as a young man. But Chaplin struggled to be taken seriously. He couldn’t read or write notated music and was dismissed as an amateur, a charlatan: a mere ‘hummer’.
It took a small army to translate Chaplin’s humming, off-key singing, and haphazard piano and violin playing into orchestral reality. Quint has now arranged the works for violin and piano. Some room is allowed for interpretative performance, although the arrangements generally adhere to their origins as sentimental film tunes. There is some schmaltz, but it is controlled and contextualised, and there is much artistry, virtuosity, and energy alongside this apt romanticism.
Quint, Aznavoorian and Bell reveal the disarming simplicity of Chaplin’s graceful and charming music, which, as the violinist says, “reaches the deepest parts of our souls”.
Composer: Charlie Chaplin
Performer: Philippe Quint, Joshua Bell v, Marta Aznavoorian p
Catalogue Number: Warner Classics 93624901808