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Silent Film Music by William Perry Recorded for Naxos

August 3, 2010

William Perry

American composer William Perry is credited with playing a pivotal role in the revival of interest in silent films. For twelve years he was Director of Music at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where he composed more than one hundred scores for the Museum’s silent film collection. His Emmy Award-winning television series, The Silent Years, with Orson Welles and Lillian Gish as hosts, introduced silent film classics to two new generations of film goers. And now Naxos, with the RTÉ National Symphony of Ireland conducted by Paul Phillips, has just recorded a full CD of Perry’s music derived from his silent film scores.

Twin soloists Ambra & Fiona Albek

Featured is the world premiere recording of the Gemini Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra with soloists Ambra and Fiona Albek, identical twin sisters from Lugano, Switzerland who together form the Albek Duo. In composing the Gemini Concerto, Perry followed a pattern established by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who drew upon several of his best-loved film scores in writing his popular Violin Concerto. Perry’s Concerto includes major thematic material from his scores for King Vidor’s The Crowd, Mary Pickford’s Little Annie Rooney, The Last Laugh with Emil Jannings, John Barrymore’s Tempest, A Kiss for Cinderella with Betty Bronson, and the exuberant Marion Davies film, Show People. In two of the movements, the violinist is required to switch to viola.

Also receiving its premiere recording is Perry’s Three Rhapsodies for Piano and Orchestra which taken together form a Silent Years Concerto. Piano virtuoso Michael Chertock is the soloist. The first rhapsody presents music from John Barrymore’s classic, The Beloved Rogue. The second is based on music for Rudolph Valentino’s bullfighting epic, Blood and Sand. The third rhapsody presents one of Perry’s most frequently-performed scores, Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece, The Gold Rush.

The CD concludes with the delightful orchestral suite, Six Title Themes in Search of a Movie. In this tongue-in-cheek piece, Perry presents title music for six imaginary films he wished he had been asked to score. The six movements are:

DANCE OVERTURE from the film “Wild Nights in Toronto”
WALTZ from the film “The Raincoats of Dijon”
SERENADE from the film “Angelus for an Angel”
MARCH from the film “The Bridge on the River Platte”
NOCTURNE from the film “The Black Marigold”
SIRIUS FINALE from the film “Voyage to the Dog Star”

In this suite, the important piano part is played by Michael Chertock, and the popular Irish soprano, Helen Kearns, is heard in the closing movement.

The recording sessions were held on 31 May, 1 & 2 June 2010 at the National Concert Hall in Dublin with Tim Handley as producer and engineer. The Naxos catalogue number for the CD will be 8.572567.

Naxos has previously released three recordings of William Perry’s music: The Innocents Abroad and other Mark Twain films, 1980–1985 (8.570200), Jamestown Concerto (8.559344) and The Romance of the Silver Screen (8.578005–06).

William Perry Biography and Discography


Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group