Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Gold Rush (cinema concert Charles Chaplin, Timothy Brock, RSO, Frank Strobel)

Kultakuume / Guldfebern. US 1925 © renewed Charles Chaplin © renewed Roy Export. PC: Chaplin-United Artists. P+D+SC: Charles Chaplin. Ass. D: Charles Riesner, Henri d’Abbadie d’Arrast, Eddie Sutherland. DP: Roland Totheroh. AD: Charles D. Hall. M: Charles Chaplin - borrowed themes include "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" by Rimsky-Korsakov, "The Song to the Evening Star" by Wagner (Lohengrin), the William Tell Overture by Rossini, "Grande valse villageoise" by Tchaikovsky (The Sleeping Beauty) [the saloon ball with the dog attached], and "Auld Lang Syne" [New Year's Eve]. CAST: Charles Chaplin (the lone prospector), Georgia Hale (Georgia), Mack Swain (Big Jim McKay), Tom Murray (Black Larsen). [Pre-release version 2974 m, original release version 2607 m, the 1942 sonorized version 1982 m.] On display was the 1993 Photoplay reconstruction of the 1925 release version by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. For it Chaplin's 1942 music was then first arranged by Carl Davis. In 2006 Timothy Brock created a new arrangement now played for the first time live in Helsinki. A Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO) concert, at a strength of ca 58 players, conducted by Frank Strobel. The film was screened in 35 mm with electronic subtitles in Finnish by Teija Harjaluoma. Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, 26 May 2011

Carl Davis conducted his arrangement of Charles Chaplin's The Gold Rush score as a Centenary of the Cinema event in Finlandia Hall in 1995. Now we got to hear Frank Strobel conducting the Timothy Brock arrangement in a magnificent film concert. As a bonus, "Auld Lang Syne" was sung live by the RSO in the film's most poignant sequence: the New Year's Eve.

This original 1925 version of The Gold Rush is definitive. When Chaplin made his sonorized version in 1942 he replaced the intertitles with his spoken commentary, upsetting the rhythm of his film and diluting his silent poetry with wordy prose.

I have never understood the "which is better, Chaplin or Keaton" question. Both are great. Chaplin's uniqueness lies in emotion. He dares to be starkly heartbreaking. He knows how to combine grand emotion with drama, satire, and comedy.

With music, Chaplin's emotion is amplified, and in a live cinema concert it is maximized. Ten points to RSO, Frank Strobel, and Timothy Brock!

This was RSO's farewell concert in Finlandia Hall before the move to Musiikkitalo, Helsinki Music Centre, in August. There was excitement backstage about the fantastic acoustic circumstances at Musiikkitalo.

I was personally moved by the farewell concert. I have been contributing to live cinema events at the Finlandia hall since 1985, The New Babylon (Shostakovich / Omri Hadari), Napoléon vu par Abel Gance (Carl Davis conducting his score), these two launched by Peter von Bagh... Die Nibelungen (Huppertz / Heller), The Thief of Bagdad (Carl Davis), The Song of the Scarlet Flower (Armas Järnefelt)... many unforgettable events despite unfavourable screening circumstances. The white walls of Finlandia Hall are anathema to cinema presentation. Happily, The Gold Rush is a starkly graphic movie. Its visual impact survives Finlandia Hall.

P.S. 4 Aug 2011. A friend asked me who has composed the funny music to the poignant "Oceana Roll" sequence. In Bologna after The Phantom of the Opera I had the chance to ask Timothy Brock, and he confirmed that the music is composed by Charles Chaplin.

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