A Musical Tribute to Charlie Chaplin

Feb 18, 2019

Violinist Philippe Quint fell in love with Charlie Chaplin’s films in the 1980’s when he was a boy in the Soviet Union, and now he’s gone digging through Chaplin’s music to pay homage to the amazing actor/composer who made the world smile through its tears.

When violinist Philippe Quint was growing up in Soviet Russia, there was little access to Western art. But he remembers that the Soviets were unconcerned about any poisonous Western messages in the silent films of Charlie Chaplin, and so they were shown all the time. Quint adored Chaplin as much for his brilliant comedy as for his touching depth as a dramatic actor. When he came to the United States in 1991, Quint felt like he’d found buried treasure, scooping up copy after copy of Chaplin’s films.

Quint’s newest project is a lovingly chosen collection of eleven of Chaplin’s love songs, arranged for piano and violin. It’s not well known that Chaplin, the unmistakable and endearing character in his bowler hat and mustache, actually composed almost all of the music in his films. He called himself “a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow …” and he said he wanted everything to be “a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large ….” Those contradictions appear in his music, too, and the effect is of a sweetness streaked with melancholy. Philippe Quint was thrilled to discover these pieces, and he has such an uncanny understanding of them that every song is bursting with the hilarity and heartbreak that Chaplin brought so touchingly to the big screen.

His incredibly communicative and sensual playing grabs you right from the start, in “Terry’s Theme” from the film Limelight. Pianist Marta Aznavoorian hears every nuance and offers just the right kind of flair.

When Joshua Bell joins Quint for “Smile” (the theme from the film Modern Times, track 2) their dialogue dances so magnificently between pure sweetness and sad restraint that it’ll stop you in your tracks.

For Quint, Chaplin’s first full-length film The Kid is a gut-wrenching masterpiece, and he’s amazed by the perfection of the music Chaplin created for it (“The Kid Fantasy”, track 11). It’s the emotional core of this recording.

All throughout, Quint floats through his scoops and slides with such class and warmth, it’s sheer pleasure. When the dancing gets serious (as in “Tango Natasha,” track 12), he snaps into just the right groove.

Chaplin’s Smile is overflowing with a very personal brand of joy that Philippe Quint is anxious to share. It’s irresistible.

Here’s a taste:

For more information and to purchase this album, visit Warner Classics.