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Colin Harvey

Cameron Carpenter

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Came across this - a quick view into the head of Cameron Carpenter, which I thought some here might find of interest/comment, or if you're just interested in what might happen at the proms season concerts...

 

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He may have a virtuoso technique - but after watching this clip I for one shall never bother to hear him live. I can see no reason why any self-respecting concert musician would need to fashion themselves in this manner.

 

I have no idea whether or not he has taken leave of his senses - but I cannot reconcile this with either high-quality musicianship or good taste.

 

Personally I do not care how well he plays: if he has begun to appear dressed like this on the concert platform, surely he has forgotten that it is the music which is of foremost importance - and after that, the nature and character of the instrument on which he is playing. This just looks like some self-serving weirdness-trip.

 

Give me David Briggs any day.

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I'm inclined to agree with you. He more than verges on the plain weird.

 

I suppose people thought that about Carlo when he started out, and before that about Virgil Fox. I wonder what his crowd-pulling capacity is.

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I'm inclined to agree with you. He more than verges on the plain weird.

 

I suppose people thought that about Carlo when he started out, and before that about Virgil Fox. I wonder what his crowd-pulling capacity is.

 

Well, the BBC have given him not one but two Prom slots at the RAH, so they must be hoping for bums on seats.

 

JS

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He may have a virtuoso technique - but after watching this clip I for one shall never bother to hear him live. I can see no reason why any self-respecting concert musician would need to fashion themselves in this manner.

 

I have no idea whether or not he has taken leave of his senses - but I cannot reconcile this with either high-quality musicianship or good taste.

 

Personally I do not care how well he plays: if he has begun to appear dressed like this on the concert platform, surely he has forgotten that it is the music which is of foremost importance - and after that, the nature and character of the instrument on which he is playing. This just looks like some self-serving weirdness-trip.

 

Give me David Briggs any day.

 

 

=================================

 

 

Starting with 'pcnd's' last statement, I absolutely agree. David Briggs is a fabulous musician who knows how to move and inspire people. He is, for me, the modern-day equivalent to Dr Francis Jackson at the peak of his powers; thoughtful, often very deep, virtuosic and always finding the perfect phrase, the crafted structure and drawing the listener into the music.

 

I was outraged when the BBC booked Cameron Carpenter for the Proms, and I said as much on this board, yet I have respect for what he has achieved and for his abilities as an improviser and innovator.

 

Technically, Cameron Carpenter has taken virtuosity to new heights, and I doubt that anyone has or will ever exceed his abilities in this respect. He is on a different planet to the late Virgil Fox, and I doubt that Carlo Curley would ever venture into such extreme virtuosity; possibly because it does nothing to improve the music.

 

What exactly is the musical point of playing Chopin's more challenging passages on the pedal organ, if it isn't to draw attention to the technique of the performer?

 

Furthermore, I just cannot understand his preference for digital instruments, which although impressive at their best, never really sound totally convincing. Is he suggesting, as I think he is, that an organ like that at the Bavokerk is somehow inferior to a digital instrument, just because it is "fixed to the wall" and relies on mechanical bits to make it work?

 

As for his punk hair-style, there is a precedent in the ever unconventional Nigel Kennedy, but in his case, if you close your eyes, the experience is often beautiful and moving.

 

No, it's the things I sense from his playing, from the things he says and manner in which he delivers them that worry me, and I genuinely fear for him. I don't think it would be appropriate or fair to expound further, except to say that I don't feel that he is a good ambassador for the instrument., whether it be fixed to a wall or plugged into one.

 

As a final thought, perhaps we could usefully campaign for organists to be included in the next Olympic Games!

 

Best,

 

MM

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Well, the BBC have given him not one but two Prom slots at the RAH, so they must be hoping for bums on seats.

 

JS

 

With plenty of home-grown players who are also technically superb, I wonder why - and who advised them to do so.

 

I can think of plenty of our own players who have a greater depth of musicianship, as oppoesd to flash showmanship - and who do not choose to dress like a gay U-boat captain.

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=================================

 

 

Starting with 'pcnd's' last statement, I absolutely agree. David Briggs is a fabulous musician who knows how to move and inspire people. He is, for me, the modern-day equivalent to Dr Francis Jackson at the peak of his powers; thoughtful, often very deep, virtuosic and always finding the perfect phrase, the crafted structure and drawing the listener into the music.

 

I was outraged when the BBC booked Cameron Carpenter for the Proms, and I said as much on this board, yet I have respect for what he has achieved and for his abilities as an improviser and innovator.

 

Technically, Cameron Carpenter has taken virtuosity to new heights, and I doubt that anyone has or will ever exceed his abilities in this respect. He is on a different planet to the late Virgil Fox, and I doubt that Carlo Curley would ever venture into such extreme virtuosity; possibly because it does nothing to improve the music.

 

What exactly is the musical point of playing Chopin's more challenging passages on the pedal organ, if it isn't to draw attention to the technique of the performer?

 

Furthermore, I just cannot understand his preference for digital instruments, which although impressive at their best, never really sound totally convincing. Is he suggesting, as I think he is, that an organ like that at the Bavokerk is somehow inferior to a digital instrument, just because it is "fixed to the wall" and relies on mechanical bits to make it work?

 

As for his punk hair-style, there is a precedent in the ever unconventional Nigel Kennedy, but in his case, if you close your eyes, the experience is often beautiful and moving.

 

No, it's the things I sense from his playing, from the things he says and manner in which he delivers them that worry me, and I genuinely fear for him. I don't think it would be appropriate or fair to expound further, except to say that I don't feel that he is a good ambassador for the instrument., whether it be fixed to a wall or plugged into one. ...

 

 

Best,

 

MM

 

Well, quite.

 

With regard to your observation about digital instruments, I am still surprised that Trinity Church, Wall Street have not yet got around to replacing (if not restoring) their pipe organ. Is it really due to financial reasons that they are still using a toaster?

 

Your last statement: I agree entirely. It is difficult enough to attract people to the organ - especially young people. I can imagine what most of 'my' parents would say, if they saw His Weirdness performing. I doubt that I would ever get their offspring interested in the organ, their parents thought that they would turn out like this.

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Worrying. Very worrying. At one time I admired his technique (although nothing else about him) but I don't even now admire that. I just find everything about him totally and utterly repulsive at every level.

 

Malcolm

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I really do not agree with the statement he makes about "the organ as we know it has to change."

Surely the fact that it is an immobile instrument and every one is unique is what makes it so great. Of course you could make digital organs sampled from pipe organs all around the world and go to an organ and know exactly what sounds you will get from what stops or combinations of, but where is the challenge for the organist?!

 

I have only heard "His Weirdness" perform live once, on the "Third Century" (as he called it) Norman & Beard organ in Wellington Town Hall, NZ.

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So he finds the pipe organ frustrating because it is incapable of responding in the way he would like it to. Maybe if he accepted that an organ isn't, and never will be, a one-man orchestra and concentrated on playing organ music...? But that would mean putting the music first, so it's not going to happen. Would I ever go to see Carpenter play? Possibly - in the same way that our forebears went to see freak shows. His utterly astounding technique does have that sort of appeal.

 

I seriously worry about such wild-eyed hyper-intensity. He may have rocketed to prominence, but the trouble with rockets is that, having shot up, they explode.

 

I'm sure he's right about physical fitness though.

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Leaving aside any thoughts about his appearance, I thought his comments about the pipe organ being finished and that the future was electronic organs was nothing short of bizarre. The evidence is so much to the contrary, even if there is a place for an electronic in some instances, perhaps for his style of playing. But to say that he had spent six or seven hours practicing on the Opera House organ and still didn't feel at one with it (I don't remember exactly what he said) says more about him than the organ I suspect. I wonder what he would make of Mein Junges Leben or O Mensch Bewein on a suitable two manual organ with about 20 stops.

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I must admit, having watched a number of videos online of this performer, I find little to like in his performances.

 

As mentioned before, there seems very little musical point in his adaptations other than to draw attention to himself.

 

I would prefer to hear a performance of a slow movement of a Stanley voluntary played from the heart than ever go and watch these egocentric frivolities.

 

Indeed, he has an envious technique, but I do wish he would showcase it in a much more tasteful and reserved manner.

 

Perhaps someone should book him for a recital on a Casson Positive - that would be most interesting....

 

Sorry if I seem negative!

 

VA

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But to say that he had spent six or seven hours practicing on the Opera House organ and still didn't feel at one with it (I don't remember exactly what he said) says more about him than the organ I suspect.

 

More than that, does he realise how fortunate he is to play these kind of organs on a regular basis? True, few organists possess his technical ability, but there are dozens of proficient organists up and down the country who I'm sure would love to have the opportunities to play such instruments. It seems a bit of a shame when all he does is complain about it.

 

I guess the view is that showmanship and virtuosity are more likely to fill concert halls and attract a wider audience.

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Leaving aside any thoughts about his appearance, I thought his comments about the pipe organ being finished and that the future was electronic organs was nothing short of bizarre. The evidence is so much to the contrary, even if there is a place for an electronic in some instances, perhaps for his style of playing. But to say that he had spent six or seven hours practicing on the Opera House organ and still didn't feel at one with it (I don't remember exactly what he said) says more about him than the organ I suspect. I wonder what he would make of Mein Junges Leben or O Mensch Bewein on a suitable two manual organ with about 20 stops.

 

Indeed. It does seem as if he has crossed some kind of line - and entered into a world of his own. As fas as his comment regarding not feeling at one with* the organ in the Sydney Opera House, after several hours' practice - what a luxury. I have lost count of the number of times I have (as I suspect will others here) had to sit at a strange organ, and play to a good standard, often for a visiting choir. Wells Cathedral was a particularly extreme example; I had to play there for a visiting choir earlier this year. Due to a rehearsal for a concert that evening, I was allowed five minutes' practice for Choral Evensong - and no option to change any piston settings. Needless to say, the choir director, whilst understanding the predicament, still expected a high standard of playing and concentration.

 

Whilst I would not, for one moment, suggest that my playing even begins to approach this standard, nevertheless the indulgence of being able to practise for seven hours or so on virtually any organ would make life considerably easier.

 

 

 

* Or perhaps not comfortable with, I cannot recall either - and I do not think that I could cope with watching the clip again.

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I must admit, having watched a number of videos online of this performer, I find little to like in his performances.

 

As mentioned before, there seems very little musical point in his adaptations other than to draw attention to himself.

 

I would prefer to hear a performance of a slow movement of a Stanley voluntary played from the heart than ever go and watch these egocentric frivolities. ...

 

VA

 

... and on a single, well-voiced Open Diapason.

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Leaving aside any thoughts about his appearance, I thought his comments about the pipe organ being finished and that the future was electronic organs was nothing short of bizarre. The evidence is so much to the contrary, even if there is a place for an electronic in some instances, perhaps for his style of playing. But to say that he had spent six or seven hours practicing on the Opera House organ and still didn't feel at one with it (I don't remember exactly what he said) says more about him than the organ I suspect. I wonder what he would make of Mein Junges Leben or O Mensch Bewein on a suitable two manual organ with about 20 stops.

 

=======================

 

 

When I was at school, we had an absolute virtuoso 16 year old who could play the Grieg Piano Concerto from memory. His technique left one breathless. He could also give a breathtaking performance of the Middelshulte "Perpetuem Mobile." We would gasp in awe at his "Ad Nos," while his 58 second "Minute Waltz" had us on the edge of our seats and holding our breath to the very end.

 

That was the problem....we were dizzy through lack of oxygen, and every one of his performances should have carried a health warning.

 

I wish people would recognise that musicianship is something quite different to technique, and actually, it is much rarer than virtuosity.

 

You've hit the nail on the head John.

 

Best,

 

MM

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I can think of plenty of our own players ......(snip)..... who do not choose to dress like a gay U-boat captain.

 

 

===========================

 

The last one I met didn't dress like that at all.

 

I got to know the late Kenny Everett when I lived in London, (not very closely I have to say), but his character "Sid Snot" was probably nearer the mark.

 

Just for the record, U-boat men are "Those that go under the sea in ships." B)

 

Best,

 

 

MM

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... Just for the record, U-boat men are "Those that go under the sea in ships." ...

MM

 

Strictly to be pedantic, surely under the sea would be whatever is under the seabed....

 

A submariner might be described as being 'under the waves' - but not, with accuracy, 'under the sea'.

 

Can we stop this one, now, please? My leg hurts....

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A few years back, CC made some reasonable arguments that the organ needed to adapt to modern society in order to survive. While I didn't agree with everything he said, it's certainly true that we are well past the days of Edwin Lemare daily entertaining thousands of casual concertgoers. At the time, CC seemed to be setting himself up as the modern, accessible ambassador for the organ. Instead, we got Klaus Nomi.

 

Who knew that the diversity of organs worldwide was such a problem? Perhaps CC will chair the CENTRAL Central Committee to approve the Hauptwerk configuration which will replace St. Ouen, St. Paul, Salisbury, St.-Bavokerk, St. Cosmae Stade, Woolsey Hall and everything else. Once organs are completely fungible, we can finally focus on the progressively outré performers who occupy the bench.

 

Justin

 

pcnd -- About 14 years ago I had the chance to sing in Salisbury Cathedral with a visiting choir, but due to a scheduling mixup our organist was given no preparation time at all. "Zadok the Priest" was the first piece, so he had all of 22 bars in which to sort himself out on the Willis. I would have gone to pieces, but as I recall he acquitted himself with aplomb. I have nothing but admiration for you who can manage in such circumstances!

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Strictly to be pedantic, surely under the sea would be whatever is under the seabed....

 

A submariner might be described as being 'under the waves' - but not, with accuracy, 'under the sea'.

 

Can we stop this one, now, please? My leg hurts....

 

 

=======================

 

 

My last word, I promise!

 

How do you reconcile the use of the word underwater. when for the most part, a diver or submariner is, (at least should be), between the seabed and the surface?

 

English is a crazy language.....I mean, you can't immerse yourself in a ship, can you? In any event, the other term for a sub is a submercible, and technically, the crew are called sub-mariners ie:- under the sea; beneath the sea. ("20,000 leagues under the sea", and the song "Beneath the sea").

 

So if Captain Nemo had an organ aboard "Nautilus", was he a Sub-Organist? :)

 

This could roll for years unless the moderators torpedo it.

 

Best,

 

MM

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An excellent starter for ten. :)

 

Now, potatoes may be planted in the ground or in the soil, whereas many London trains run underground, (but not in the molten core, where severe cooling problems may be expected).

 

Oh dear. Perhaps the moderators should bury it instead. :(

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===========================

 

Just for the record, U-boat men are "Those that go under the sea in ships." B)

 

For the record, I thought submarines were normally referred to not as 'ships', but as 'boats'. :D

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For the record, I thought submarines were normally referred to not as 'ships', but as 'boats'. :D

 

 

=========================

 

 

I know I promised, but the sun's gone to my head!

 

So let's get this right.......it would be "they who sail under the sea in boats."

 

Mmmmm.....

 

Best,

 

MM

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Apologies for returning to 'normal' comments, but I think this chap misses one of the most important aspects of the organ, that is, its variety and I mean by that the fact that every organ is different, especially when comparing those of different 'nationalities'.

 

According to his comments, CC would like all organs (toasters) to comprise sounds from 'all' schools of organ building. This would surely result in an impossibly large and consequently expensive 'instrument', yet lacking any individuality.

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Oh how depressing reading you lot of moaners. Accept his playing for what it is. I find CC's recording of the the Bach T & F in F really exciting and it seems to me that flashy, unconventional performance is entirely welcome, like his dress sense.

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