Dunja Lavrova

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The Vitaphone Dream

"The Vitaphone Dream" aims to recall the romanticism of the early 20th century films through the modern eye, or as if through a dream.

Dunja has direct relationship with visual arts through her family routes, so there is no surprise that she has recently decided to begin collaborations with film-makers, making short films to her recordings.

The idea came about after she decided to "take a trip back in time" and make some audio recordings with a gramophone effect (click here to find out more about "My Dusty Gramophone" project). Dunja felt that the "time machine experiment" she wanted to achieve with "My Dusty Gramophone" could be intensified by visualising the audio experience with some beautifully shot images which would flirt with the films of the early 20th century. Thus, "The Vitaphone Dream" was born and became the sister-project of "My Dusty Gramophone".

In March 2013, Dunja met a talented young film-maker Richard Herring at the "Black Dog Night" event at the Vibe Gallery. The event was in aid of the "SANE" Charity which helps to aid people affected by mental illnesses. Richard Herring was filming this event, at which Dunja gave a moving talk and performed "Sarabande" from J.S.Bach's unaccompanied Partita in D-minor. 

When the idea of making short films came across her mind, Dunja immediately contacted Richard, who became inspired by the concept and the two decided to start their collaboration together. 

Richard and Dunja agreed that Debussy's "Beau Soir" from Dunja's "My Dusty Gramophone" project was the best choice to begin with. 

"Beau Soir" (fr "Beautiful evening"), which Jascha Heifetz beautifully arranged for the violin and piano, was originally a song written by Claude Debussy at the end of the 19th century to the poem by Paul Bourget. Bourget's "Beau Soir" is an "art poem", typical to the style of the impressionist movement of that time. Debussy's music beautifully represents colours and images described in the poem. 

And although, even without the words, the music clearly speaks for itself, Dunja's idea was to "reincarnate" some of the key words of the poem with images on film. As the result, you get both aural and visual representation of the poem, without the words even being there.

Dunja is now hoping to make series of short films with various film-makers for this video project, each to be made with a unique feel and technique, but all of them representing that nostalgic feeling of the past. She is currently seeking more young film-makers to collaborate with her on producing short films to Ponce's "Estrellita" and some of the other tracks from her "My Dusty Gramophone" project. (Please click here to hear the other recordings).

If you are a film-maker/ videographer, or know someone who might be interested in working on "The Vitaphone Dream" project with Dunja, please direct them to this site and page, and use the contact form to get in touch. 

"Beau Soir" - a short film by Richard Herring and Dunja Lavrova.
Concept by Dunja Lavrova.
Music by C.Debussy, arr. by J.Heifetz.
The audio was recorded live on 20/07/2013 at Belsize Square as part of Dunja Lavrova's "My Dusty Gramophone" project
Violin: Dunja Lavrova

Piano: Konstantin Lapshin

YouTube version. High Resolution Video will be uploaded here soon.

Text of the poem (translation from French, courtesy of Wikipedia):

When streams turn pink in the setting sun,

And a slight shudder rushes through the wheat fields,

A plea for happiness seems to rise out of all things

And it climbs up towards the troubled heart.

A plea to relish the charm of life

While there is youth and the evening is fair,

For we pass away, as the wave passes:

The wave to the sea, we to the grave.

Original text (in French) by Paul Bourget:

Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivières sont roses

Et qu'un tiède frisson court sur les champs de blé,

Un conseil d'être heureux semble sortir des choses

Et monter vers le coeur troublé.

Un conseil de goûter le charme d'être au monde

Cependant qu'on est jeune et que le soir est beau,

Car nous nous en allons, comme s'en va cette onde:

Elle à la mer, nous au tombeau

N.B. This idea is protected by the copyright law. Any attempt to replicate or imitate this concept will result in criminal charges.

Vitaphone was the last major analog sound-on-disc system, which was used for feature and short films made by Warner Bros. and First National from 1926 to 1931. When used in context of this particular project, the word "Vitaphone" is used ambiguously and has no relation to Warner Bros. trademark. The word "Vitaphone" derived from the Latin and Greek words: respectively, for "living" and "sound".