Composer and conductor Carl Davis, a popular regular visitor to the CBSO in recent seasons, put on a memorable mini-festival over the weekend to mark his 70th birthday later this month.

Three programmes dedicated to the great masters of American silent screen comedy - Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd - not only illuminated different approaches to comedy, but also some contrasting musical styles in the orchestral scores which accompanied them.

Each programme consisted of a short and a feature, revealing how these geniuses graduated from slapstick to a more sustained form of dramatic comedy.

But I wonder whether Chaplin would have really wanted Modern Times (1936) to be paired with The Rink (1916), thereby revealing how he plundered the latter's waiter gags 20 years on.

It meant we heard five scores by Davis, but the sixth was something extraordinary - a reconstruction made by Timothy Brock in 1999-2000 of Chaplin's own orchestral score for Modern Times. Untrained as a composer, Chaplin seems nevertheless to have worked intricately with collaborators to get down the orchestral sounds he could hear clearly in his head.

Although the result is difficult to pin down stylistically - it opens with some stern, early 20th century brass and contains some lyrical string writing that sounds vaguely like Ravel - it certainly seems perfectly matched to the film.

Made outside the silent era and featuring a partial soundtrack (including a nonsense song sung by the Little Tramp, the only time his voice was ever heard), this was the only one of the weekend's features I had never previously seen.

It begins with the famous sequence in which the Little Tramp is tightening nuts on a nightmarish factory production line.

I began by thinking I was watching a masterpiece but later the film begins to drift, becoming repetitious and (Chaplin's particular vice) sentimental. He is the only one of this triumvirate I ever find tedious.

It's the sad fate of a good film composer that if his work is successful it will be so completely absorbed into the audience's experience of the film as to go largely unnoticed.

The CBSO, out of sight for many of the audience in the pit, could also easily be out of mind.

Why is it that when a live performance is perfectly played and balanced we pay it the dubious compliment of mistaking it for a recording?

But if you listen for it, Davis's craft is there to be heard in the delicious maracas accompanying the cocktail-shaking episode in The Rink, the gracious melodies which complement Keaton's charming recreation of 1830s America in Our Hospitality , or the amazingly inventive sounds which accompany the pigeons roosting on Harold Lloyd's head as he climbs the outside of a skyscraper in Safety Last!

The often brash jazz-flavoured score Davis wrote for the last film used much the smallest ensemble of the weekend - thereby enabling the CBSO to pull of the Houdini-like trick of also taking part in a Shostakovich film music event at the South Bank last night.

And let's not forget that these feature scores are each the length of a Mahler symphony - but without any opportunity for rests between movements.