Carmen Cavallaro

Very Best of Carmen Cavallaro/The Eddy Duchin Story

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Carmen Cavallero, nicknamed "The Poet of the Piano," influenced Liberace with his flashy style of playing that applied the virtuosity and complexity of classical music to popular songs. He charted several hit singles in the '40s and '50s, but enjoyed his greatest commercial success tickling the ivories for Tyrone Power in the 1956 biopic The Eddy Duchin Story, starring Power as Duchin. The chart-topping soundtrack LP The Eddy Duchin Story spent an incredible 99 weeks on the album charts despite competing versions of the album by other pianists on Columbia and Capitol. The Very Best of Carmen Cavallaro/The Eddy Duchin Story is two albums in one -- a straight reissue of The Eddy Duchin Story paired with a dozen of Cavallaro's other Decca recordings. The Eddy Duchin Story doesn't contain interpretations of any of Duchin's hits, but gives Cavallaro many opportunities to show off his mellifluous playing. "Dizzy Fingers" and "Chopsticks" are humorously grandiose, and the ballads are romantic yet flamboyant. The best-of selections include only the biggest one of Cavallaro's instrumental chart hits, a florid performance of "Chopin's Polonaise" from 1945. The other recordings alternate between classical and popular repertoire and, like the Duchin album, are fully orchestrated. It's easy to hear Cavallaro's influence on Liberace, but most of the subsequent easy listening pianists of the late '50s and '60s forged more economical styles of playing.