Jump to content
Mander Organs
Colin Harvey

Cameron Carpenter

Recommended Posts

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.

 

I think that you are missing the point, here. 'Flashy' anything is, arguably, utterly false - and in my experience, simply gets in the way of the music, which is of far greater worth. Neither does a 'flash' performance necessarily equate to one which is either musical or imbued with informed taste.

 

Surely one of our priorities is to try to interest young people in playing the organ. We need to ensure that there is a 'next generation'. With this in mind, and with regard to your comment on his dress sense: you also miss the point, here. As I have already stated, were I to employ Carpenter as an ambassador to the young for the organ, I know - without any doubt whatsoever - that the parents of my many pupils would not want their children anywhere near him.*

 

There are many good players around who do not seek apparently to lift themselves above the cause of the music. Yet they could not accurately be described as dull.

 

If you really want a good, exciting performance of the Toccata and Fugue, in F major (presumably BWV540) - find an archive recording of Thalben-Ball playing it. He took it as least as quickly as Fox, did not 'cheat' by playing the pedal solos on manual doubles (or by the unusual Pedal to Great coupler †) - and he also played all the notes correctly and in the right order.

 

 

 

* To quote but one example, Daniel Moult has organised a number of excellent workshops for children and young people, with a 'hands-on' approach. They have been well received. He did not need to resort to being 'flash', he simply portrayed the organ as a captivating instrument and the music which was featured with skill and enthusiasm.

 

Apparently, he did not feel it necessary to wear an outrageous costume in order to achieve his goal.

 

 

 

† The organ of Riverside Church, NYC, has such a device: http://www.nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/RiversideChurch.html#AeolianSkinner1118C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, sorry, you are the one who is completely missing the point. Excitement in music comes in many guises and a performance cannot be dismissed simply on grounds of taste or some arbitary decision of musicality. If it gets me sitting up and laughing then that's a result in my book. Of course I listen to other performers and maybe learn something else from them, but in no way do I want a definitive performance (especially Thalben-Ball) at the exclusion of all others. And as for what Carpenter wears, I don't think he is looking for employment as an ambassador or wanting to run a workshop so your comments are entirely superfluous. And snide remarks about Carpenter and children are reprehensible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no reason at all to doubt pcnd5584's assertion that the parents of his pupils would object to Carpenter's public image. He is is the best position to know this and I am in none to second guess. Likewise, I have no reason to doubt his assertion that Daniel Moult conducted successful worskshops without resorting to a "flashy" image. I fail to understand why his comments are "snide" and "reprehensible". Of course his pupil's parents' views may be open to criticism, but that is another matter entirely.

 

Maybe we need to recognise different approaches to entertainment. It seems to me that Carpenter is packaging himself as a "product". There is nothing new about this. Entertainers have been doing it for years. You shape your package to appeal to the audience you want to attract - at least I think that's the theory. That's fine and legitimate if that's how you like your entertainment. Personally I don't. I revere the music for its own sake - I don't need it packaged. If that makes me a musical snob I couldn't care less. That's how I enjoy my music, so live with it, folks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, sorry, you are the one who is completely missing the point. Excitement in music comes in many guises and a performance cannot be dismissed simply on grounds of taste or some arbitary decision of musicality. If it gets me sitting up and laughing then that's a result in my book. ...

 

Yes, I know that excitement in music comes in many guises; but for me - not like this. In any case, you have chosen to focus on the visual aspect alone; on reviewing the clip, a number of contributors here have expressed concern over some of the statements which he made during the course of the excerpt.

 

As for your assertion that 'a performance cannot be dismissed simply on grounds of taste or some arbitrary decision of musicality' - why not? If I wanted to laugh, I would watch a comedy show. I am mystified as to why you should judge a musical performance good, simply because it made you sit up and laugh.

 

Of course I listen to other performers and maybe learn something else from them, but in no way do I want a definitive performance (especially Thalben-Ball) at the exclusion of all others.

 

.In which case, you have mis-read my post. I used the adjectives 'good' and 'exciting' - not 'definitive'.

 

... I don't think [Carpenter] is looking for employment as an ambassador or wanting to run a workshop so your comments are entirely superfluous.

 

Now how could you possibly know that? So, if he does not see himself as an ambassador for the organ, what is he - merely self-seeking?

 

And snide remarks about Carpenter and children are reprehensible.

 

You seem determined to mis-represent my words Perhaps you could explain in what way my remarks were snide or reprehensible - or have you, perhaps, inferred an interpretation which was never intended? I simply stated a fact - one which I am fairly sure you are not in a position to question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... I revere the music for its own sake - I don't need it packaged. If that makes me a musical snob I couldn't care less. That's how I enjoy my music, so live with it, folks.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with this view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that some of his statements about organs are decidedly odd but I enjoy listening to his playing and laughing is a very valid response. Nowhere in my two posts have I said that I judge the performances to be good. The same could be said of C Curley whose playing (many years ago) of Liberty Bell with tuba at St Matts, Northampton was in my opinion exhilarating but did not please everyone. What Carpenter wears is, maybe, designed to shock and it prompts remarks about U-boats and parents and children. But that is all irrelevant. Jacques Loussier and the Swingle Singers got me playing Bach as a kid. That wasn't revering the music but it did a good job. Organ music can just be too stuffy and needs shaking from time to time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that some of his statements about organs are decidedly odd but I enjoy listening to his playing and laughing is a very valid response.

 

Whilst I understand that there are many different levels of appreciation (and not just in the sphere of music), this still surprises me. I have often attended organ recitals and, yes, there are occasionally laughs - if the performer has made a humorous remark - but not simply as a result of the playing.

 

Nowhere in my two posts have I said that I judge the performances to be good.

 

No - but neither did I say that you had; although, to clarify, you stated 'that's a result in my book.' To me, this seems that you viewed this as a positive outcome - therefore, by inference, surely this merits the description 'good'.

 

But that is all irrelevant.

 

No - this is emphatically not the case. If, by his appearance, he is in danger of alienating a potential audience group (i.e., children), then surely this is a great disservice to the cause of the organ and its repertoire - and its future. For that matter - why, if what you wrote is true, does he feel the need to shock? Again, has he become, in his own mind, more important than the music which he plays?

 

Organ music can just be too stuffy and needs shaking from time to time.

 

I agree - but there are a number of ways in which it can be made rather less so - which is why I included the paragraph about the workshops run by Daniel Moult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whilst I understand that there are many different levels of appreciation (and not just in the sphere of music), this still surprises me. I have often attended organ recitals and, yes, there are occasionally laughs - if the performer has made a humorous remark - but not simply as a result of the playing.

 

Oh, I don't know... Even Bach has his humour. When I was young (here we go again!) I remember going to a recital at the Royal Festival Hall by Arthur Wills. Amongst the other things he played was Hindemith's Sonata no.1, a piece I had never heard before in its entirety. At the end of the first movement he brought the discourse tastefully and gently to an end on that peaceful E flat minor chord - and then, quite without warning, the minor third suddenly changed to a major - upon which an audible titter ran through the whole audience. It was a totally delicious moment that I shall never forget. It was all down to AW's exquisite timing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I don't know... Even Bach has his humour. When I was young (here we go again!) I remember going to a recital at the Royal Festival Hall by Arthur Wills. Amongst the other things he played was Hindemith's Sonata no.1, a piece I had never heard before in its entirety. At the end of the first movement he brought the discourse tastefully and gently to an end on that peaceful E flat major minor chord - and then, quite without warning, the minor third suddenly changed to a major - upon which an audible titter ran through the whole audience. It was a totally delicious moment that I shall never forget. It was all down to AW's exquisite timing.

 

I can understand this. However, from what cverey wrote, it appeared that he meant that an organ recital had to make him laugh for it to be a positive experience, if you like. And, no, I am aware that he did not write exactly that, but on reading his post again, it seems to me that this is what he was implying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just wonder what Cameron Carpenter can deliver which other organists cannot, apart from playing five or six lines of music simultaneously using thumbs, great pedal agility and an incredible, (if often flawed), technique.

 

He can't do what Barbara Denherlain does as a jazz organist.

 

He can't play as musically as Jos van der Kooy. (As well as many others).

 

He can't match Jelani Eddington or Simon Gledhill as a theatre organist.

 

He doesn't have the wit of Simon Lindley.

 

He doesn't have the stage presence of Virgil Fox.

 

He doesn't have the rebel element of Nigel Kennedy.

 

What then, is the attraction?

 

Is it simply that he can contort his legs and put in all the parts that organists usually leave out in transcription playing?

 

Sorry, but I just find it boring after a while. In fact, he reminds me of the organi playing equivalent to Cecil B de Mille, who said to the composer of the film-score to "The ten commandments"...."I want it like Wagner; only bigger."

 

I think it was Vaclav Harvel, the former President of the newly liberated Czech Republic, (a fine playright and poet), who defended good humour and laughter. (He knew how to enjoy himself).

 

He went on to say something on the lines of...."The greatest danger comes from those of a deeply serious disposition and burning eyes."

 

I think he was thinking of Adolf Hitler, but I wonder if Cameron Carpenter could ever look in a mirror and laugh at himself?

 

Best,

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I give in chaps. Everything I say is twisted and distorted. No I don't need to laugh to enjoy a recital. Ridiculous. As far as I'm concerned you can carry on talking to yourselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now cverey please don’t take offence. Noting that you are listed as ‘newbie’ I’m puzzled as to your reason for joining the discussion board? There is very frank, intelligent, and well-considered exchange of ideas here from people who have a genuine concern for how the organ is perceived in the wider world and its real future - both sacred and secular. Unfortunately some opinions are incorrect. This doesn’t mean that you should not pose them to encourage interesting and stimulating discussion. No-one is ‘twisting’ your equally valid point of view, based on real experiences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm, I think most people are missing the point. Like it or not, this guy is bringing the organ to the masses, and maybe even earning us organists respect from fellow musicians. For this alone, Mr. Cameron has my full admiration.

 

As for his image - it's a little way out, but at the same time unique and refreshing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm, I think most people are missing the point. Like it or not, this guy is bringing the organ to the masses, and maybe even earning us organists respect from fellow musicians. For this alone, Mr. Cameron has my full admiration.

 

As for his image - it's a little way out, but at the same time unique and refreshing.

 

Respect? As far as I can tell from the musicians I know he is drawing scorn and derision on organists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like the late, great, Carlo, there is surely no doubt that he could approach any part of the repertoire in any style or manner of his choosing?

That's my hat off, then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like the late, great, Carlo, there is surely no doubt that he could approach any part of the repertoire in any style or manner of his choosing?

That's my hat off, then.

 

 

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

 

 

When Cameron Carpenter isn't drawing attention to himself, he can be quite impressive, and not just technically.

 

In spite of what sounds like a fairly predictable American digital organ, and rather poor sound quality, the following demonstrates a more serious (and musical) side to the man:-

 

 

 

 

It's the circus-act mentatlity which upsets me, and which now seems to dominate his concerts.

 

Best,

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, as in any weird behavior, somehow I feel sorry there's obvious no one around him caring (and honest) enough to make him realize it's just absurd/weird/crazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not overly impressed with the above performance of the Dupre B major (one of my favourite works of the XXth century) - why is everything so detached, as though the keys were red hot?

 

Perhaps it's just me.

 

VA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not overly impressed with the above performance of the Dupre B major (one of my favourite works of the XXth century) - why is everything so detached, as though the keys were red hot?

 

Perhaps it's just me.

 

VA

 

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

 

 

I was a bit starled by the detachment, but at least it's music as we know it for the most part. Perhaps the detachment is symptomatic.

 

Best,

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, as in any weird behavior, somehow I feel sorry there's obvious no one around him caring (and honest) enough to make him realize it's just absurd/weird/crazy.

 

 

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

 

 

Exactly! This is why I said that I fear for him. I don't wish to elaborate.

 

Best,

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is an interesting article from a couple of years ago. I couldn't resist reproducing one quotation from it: "Cavaillé-Coll? Cameron and I played one recently. Extremely limited. The rest of the European organs? I really have no interest in them. Relics". I shall make no further comment.

 

 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/04/09/storm-over-cameron-carpenter/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.thebrag.com/2012/06/26/music-interview-cameron-carpenter/

 

"he doesn’t believe in announcing programs before the night – he thinks people should come for the performer, not the music..."

 

Therein lies an interesting insight.

 

"Carpenter has confirmed that he’ll definitely be playing what he calls the ‘Syncretic Prelude and Fugue in D’: his own arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor (“which is, at 15 minutes, one of the ultimate statements of humanity,” he gushes)"

 

Why is it necessary for him to "arrange" a piece he himself describes as one of the ultimate statements of humanity?

 

I know little of this chap's music making beyond a few YouTube clips, but the more I read of his attitude the less I would actually want to hear him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"he doesn’t believe in announcing programs before the night – he thinks people should come for the performer, not the music..."

 

 

This is exactly the kind of egocentric viewpoint I have come to expect (and detest) from this particular performer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

 

 

When Cameron Carpenter isn't drawing attention to himself, he can be quite impressive, and not just technically.

 

I couldn't agree less. This sounds completely manic and is in every way the least attractive recording of the Dupre B major that I have ever heard. His manual and pedal dexterity is extraordinary, however, and I would love to be able top play laf as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose that when I was younger I felt a degree of disdain for Carlo Curley - too showmanistic, missed too many right notes, promoted electronic organs so how could any serious organ critic take him seriously. The many plaudits he received following his untimely death remind me that my first impressions were misplaced. And I was struck by a profound musicianship that I wasn't expecting, not to mention being surprised and impressed that he performed entirely without music (why is that usual for pianists but not organists?) the first time I heard him in a live recital.

 

Another organist I hold in deep admiration is Gillian Weir, whose elaborate and visually stunning dresses could hardly fail to draw attention to herself. Yet once she had wowed the audience by walking across the stage to the console, from then on she let the organ do all the talking.

 

When I first heard of Mr Carpenter I was as awed as anyone at his Chopin transcription. My problem with him is firstly less his technique and more that he draws attention to himself in a way that stops with himself whereas the two greats listed above use their presence to steer people to the organ. And secondly it is his implicit criticism of pipe organs as lacking the versatility he thinks they need. There are plenty of YouTube clips of jazz organ and theatre organists with prodigious technique pressing buttons and keys all over the console, but if you feel even a Wurlitzer has insufficient bells and whistles for you, the logical instrument for you has to be a sequencer, where you can create electronic patterns of notes way more complex than any performers' fingers could ever play in real time. In which case, you have lost the need for having a performer at all since the sequencer plays whatever has been programmed into it some time previously!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...