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Cameron Carpenter


Colin Harvey

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I'm very surprised that Mr Carpenter seems to have some difficulties to apprehend Dupré's music!!

 

 

 

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Perhaps Mr Carpenter hasn't quite got the hang of an arresting performance of Dupre as yet, but with all those buttons and LCD monitors, he's probably browsing through the Macy's on-line fashion cataloque simultaneously, just to keep abreast of developments, as Humphrey Lyttelton might have said.

 

Still, we can live in hope that by playing an old relic in France, (or even a proper pipe-organ), he may yet comprehend the spirit of Dupre.

 

Actually, although emotionally detached and mechanical, I didn't think his B-minor was terrible, but it's not one I would willingly travel to hear. It was a squillion times better than that ridiculous Chopin "Etude."

 

My own feeling is, that whilst I wouldn't mind watching him perform, I wouldn't want to hear him perform. I find that if you turn the sound down on the videos, it's almost as good as watching the Olympics.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Excellent summing-up, MM.

 

I highly doubt I'll be watching any of his offerings at the forthcoming Proms, though (even with the television on mute!).

 

Now

is a man who is quite a showman in his own respect, but displays much more musicianship and modesty, in my humble opinion. I gather he is not everybody's cup of tea, but I'd choose him over CC anyday.

 

VA

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Excellent summing-up, MM.

 

I highly doubt I'll be watching any of his offerings at the forthcoming Proms, though (even with the television on mute!).

 

Now

is a man who is quite a showman in his own respect, but displays much more musicianship and modesty, in my humble opinion. I gather he is not everybody's cup of tea, but I'd choose him over CC anyday.

 

VA

 

 

Perhaps very slightly too slow and very slightly too much rubato for my personal taste (and I passed FTCL playing this piece) but it is nevertheless a very beautiful and controlled performance that I could very happily listen to over and over again. As you say, so much better than those who prefer to play even Franck as if to a metronome and it's also so much better than those young players, and some very well known established teachers, who seem to be unable to play anything legato and insist on playing everything far too fast. I was interested to watch the relaxation in his hands, fingers and arms that enabled him to get such a nice legato. Very enjoyable indeed; thank you for psoting this link, Vox A.

 

Malcolm

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Readers might be interested to view a little https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=6626266638&set=t.36907574&type=3&theater of the students of the Summer Organ Conservatoire in St Sulpice. All having a go and everyone enjoying finding their way around the glorious musical machine. I post this after the remarks made about Dupré in an earlier post. Léon Charles plays much of the B Major from memory and having never sat at the organ before - neither had the others. Testament to young unbridled enthusiasm and musicianship. Even Dame Gillian was given her orders!

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Excellent summing-up, MM.

 

I highly doubt I'll be watching any of his offerings at the forthcoming Proms, though (even with the television on mute!).

 

Now

is a man who is quite a showman in his own respect, but displays much more musicianship and modesty, in my humble opinion. I gather he is not everybody's cup of tea, but I'd choose him over CC anyday.

 

VA

 

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Only in Hungary can an organist also be a TV celebrity, and Xaver Varnus holds a semi-popstar status in his homeland, even though I believe he resides in Canada.

 

There's a whole brace of truly outstanding organists and improvsers in Hungary, as well as some good contemporary music. I know that when I wrote my Hungarian article on this board, it was by far the most enjoyable to research and write about.

 

Xaver Varnus knows how to tread the divide between showmanship, presentation and proper music making. Incidentally, check out his superb organ and combo version of Jean Jarre's "Equinox," with some fine shots of the organ in the Palace of the Arts, Budapest.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Despite the fact that mankind has survived into the 21st century it would still appear that he has still not overcome his dark,deep fears of anything which verges upon the unknown. By " unknown " I would refer specifically to the physical as well as the psychological.

 

I tie in this observation with several of those opinions expressed on the topic regarding Mr. Carpenter

 

Unfortunately , for so long as mankind is happy in the cosy environment of stereoytpes,grey, average, middle - of- the road,conservative, safe,known................. then he will never progress.

 

I would have hoped that by now we had reached a stage of intellectual development in which we no longer judged individuals by their appearance or idiosyncracies. With regards to the demonisation of Mr. Carpenter, sadly ,it would appear that we have not yet reached that stage.

 

Rest assured if it is not Mr. Carpenter getting it in the neck so to speak , then it will only be some other unfortunate individual.

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Despite the fact that mankind has survived into the 21st century it would still appear that he has still not overcome his dark,deep fears of anything which verges upon the unknown. By " unknown " I would refer specifically to the physical as well as the psychological.

 

I tie in this observation with several of those opinions expressed on the topic regarding Mr. Carpenter

 

Unfortunately , for so long as mankind is happy in the cosy environment of stereoytpes,grey, average, middle - of- the road,conservative, safe,known................. then he will never progress.

 

I would have hoped that by now we had reached a stage of intellectual development in which we no longer judged individuals by their appearance or idiosyncracies. With regards to the demonisation of Mr. Carpenter, sadly ,it would appear that we have not yet reached that stage.

 

Rest assured if it is not Mr. Carpenter getting it in the neck so to speak , then it will only be some other unfortunate individual.

 

 

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This is not really fair to those who have expressed an opinion concerning C-C.

 

Virgil Fox was really quite bizarre in many respects, and especially in his personal life. His pool parties were the stuff of legend, but I don't think that his quite open homosexuality was ever a major handicap to his career, though it did cause a few problems. I think he used to introduce his boyfriend as "My assistant".

 

Liberace was outrageously funny, and when it came to attire, it didn't come any more camp or OTT, but that didn't hold him back.

 

Carlo Curley had a prodigious technique, as do certain French organists, and playing to the gallery was and is entirely acceptable.

 

One could even point towards Lemare and even the pianist Billy Thorburn; both of whom knew how to work a crowd.

 

All the above were or are able musicians of considerable artistic merit, and to hear Carlo Curley play Pierne was, without doubt, a demonstration of both technique and artistry.

 

I don't think anyone would doubt the technical attainments of Cameron Carpenter, which really elevate technique to an all time high. I can think of no-one who comes, or ever came close to what he can do, and that has important implications for us all. No one would ever doubt his cleverness and extraordinary mental co-ordination.

 

But that's where, for me, it stops.

 

If music making stops with technique, and the technique of the performer becomes the principal attraction,organ-playing may as well become a competitive sport.

 

What I observe with C-C is someone driven to be the best in class, but with a detachment and self obsession which I have encountered previously.

 

I could probably put a label on it, but that wouldn't be fair.

 

Best,

 

MM

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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

 

Neither am I.

 

In addition to the odd 'articulation' mentioned previously, the balance is wrong for the middle section of the Prelude - the left hand can scarcely be heard.

 

In addition, the Fugue has a number of slips - for example, in the right hand, a couple of bars or so before the recapitulation.

 

This toaster makes a particularly nasty noise - gritty, is perhaps a fitting description. The loudest sounds appeared to me to be quite unrealistic. If Carpenter and Torrence genuinely prefer this kind of noise to the grandeur and beauty of a fine pipe organ (perhaps built by Cavaillé-Coll, for example) then I am astounded. The 'thing' Carpenter is playing on the above recording sounds like a pile of junk to me.

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... Unfortunately , for so long as mankind is happy in the cosy environment of stereoytpes,grey, average, middle - of- the road,conservative, safe,known................. then he will never progress. ...

 

Pierre Cochereau was none of these things - but neither did he come across as eccentric (in a negative sense), or self-seeking. The music was still the most important thing. With Carpenter, surely it is patently obvious that it is he himself who he regards as the most important aspect.

 

To quote Torrence: “I have been to many European places and heard the organs. I attribute most good sounds to acoustics. The organs I don’t worship, although we do need to keep them current; otherwise, what would we sample?" This is quite absurd. If he does not like them, nor regard them as beautiful, let alone superb musical instruments, why bother to sample them? Certainly the toaster on the above recording does not sound like any pipe organ which I have ever heard - or would wish to hear.

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Neither am I.

 

In addition to the odd 'articulation' mentioned previously, the balance is wrong for the middle section of the Prelude - the left hand can scarcely be heard.

 

In addition, the Fugue has a number of slips - for example, in the right hand, a couple of bars or so before the recapitulation.

 

This toaster makes a particularly nasty noise - gritty, is perhaps a fitting description. The loudest sounds appeared to me to be quite unrealistic. If Carpenter and Torrence genuinely prefer this kind of noise to the grandeur and beauty of a fine pipe organ (perhaps built by Cavaillé-Coll, for example) then I am astounded. The 'thing' Carpenter is playing on the above recording sounds like a pile of junk to me.

 

Pierre Cochereau was none of these things - but neither did he come across as eccentric (in a negative sense), or self-seeking. The music was still the most important thing. With Carpenter, surely it is patently obvious that it is he himself who he regards as the most important aspect.

 

To quote Torrence: “I have been to many European places and heard the organs. I attribute most good sounds to acoustics. The organs I don’t worship, although we do need to keep them current; otherwise, what would we sample?" This is quite absurd. If he does not like them, nor regard them as beautiful, let alone superb musical instruments, why bother to sample them? Certainly the toaster on the above recording does not sound like any pipe organ which I have ever heard - or would wish to hear.

 

Is it possible for a sound engineer to 'simulate' the sound of a pipe organ as superb as the Cavaille-Coll Organ presently in Warrington?

Samples of the C-C Organ in the Parr Hall have been made.

http://phoenixorgans...technology.html In this link, the sound engineer is pictured taking samples of this organ in Warrington.

 

Granted, the acoustic of the Parr Hall is far from ideal for this C-C Organ, but the Parr Hall is its third home. It was originally built as a Salon Organ for a wealthy man and he later moved it to another location in different County.

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

 

 

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

 

No circus-act mentality here ---

--- just a Masterclass by Daniel Roth, Organiste Titulaire, St Sulpice, Paris.

What a Registrant to have !!!

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When I go to a recital if I get charismatic playing by a charismatic performer playing a charismatic programme then I generally go home happy. Give me an Ian Tracey or Roy Massey recital any day over a young Oxbridge performer who can play immaculately but played in a dull way and presented with a lack of zest! A sweeping generalisation perhaps, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

 

That is why I for one will miss Carlo Curley, a fine performer from a big personality.

 

Cameron Carpenter is young and way out but with huge potential. No doubt he will fine tune his performances as he matures. The fact that there is much heated debate over CC means at least he is generating publicity for the organ. It has to be said organists as a whole are not the best at promoting their instrument. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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Is it possible for a sound engineer to 'simulate' the sound of a pipe organ as superb as the Cavaille-Coll Organ presently in Warrington?

 

In a word, YES.

 

Go here: http://www.contrebom...all/home/browse and search for (for example) the Mutin/Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Metz, or the Hereford Cathedral Willis.....

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When I go to a recital if I get charismatic playing by a charismatic performer playing a charismatic programme then I generally go home happy. Give me an Ian Tracey or Roy Massey recital any day over a young Oxbridge performer who can play immaculately but played in a dull way and presented with a lack of zest! A sweeping generalisation perhaps, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

 

That is why I for one will miss Carlo Curley, a fine performer from a big personality.

 

Cameron Carpenter is young and way out but with huge potential. No doubt he will fine tune his performances as he matures. The fact that there is much heated debate over CC means at least he is generating publicity for the organ. It has to be said organists as a whole are not the best at promoting their instrument. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

 

I honestly do not want a charismatic performer playing a charismatic programme. I am perfectly happy with good music played stylishly and well, whether it is Sweelinck or MacMillan. I am certainly not impressed by or even interested in organists having a "big personality" and more than I want my plumber to have one.

 

Nor do I want to hear a load of arrangements of rather undemanding music I could perfectly easily hear in the far more satisfactory form that the composer intended played by a "look how clever I am" organist. So often I find myself siding with Dr Johnson - "difficult do you call it? I wish it were impossible!" I have largely given up going to organ recitals because there is so little organ music played these days.

 

[iconoclasm]

I would happily throw organs on the bonfire if they have become an end in themselves rather than a means of transmitting the repertoire. Let future generations discover the repertoire and start building organs capable of playing it.

[/iconoclasm]

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Well said, Nick. I take it as read that you mean "undemanding music" in the aesthetic rather than the technical sense.

 

These days I am more tolerant than I was in my youth of programmes that contain "something for everyone" and indeed thoroughly enjoyed the late Carlo Curley's programme when he opened a local organ a few years ago, but my preference remains as yours.

 

Playing Devil's advocate, there is nothing inherently wrong with someone wanting to push the boundaries of an instrument. Beethoven did it with the piano, Berlioz with the orchestra. But both of these were composers who did what they did in the name of music. I think a lot of us would be far less inclined to object to Carpenter's presentation if the musicianship were of a higher order, because that, surely, is what it is all about. And that - for the moment at least - is why Carpenter seems unlikely ever to equal the musical achievement of Carlo Curley. Whatever criticisms you might want to level against Carlo's taste, he never played (to my knowledge) without deep musical feeling and musical communication. I would not write off Carpenter entirely. He is a young man. Like Carlo, he might mature with age and experience. If so, he could become more than just a phenomenal technician - and that really could be something worth taking seriously. I apologise if this sounds condescending; it's just my view.

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Undemanding in the aesthetic sense, yes.

 

Beethoven didn't push the boundaries of the piano by making arrangements of Stamitz sinfoniae for it, nor Berlioz the orchestra by arranging Buxtehude viola da gamba sonatas for it. Their pushing made the piano more pianistic and the orchestra more orchestral. What is happening with the organ, especially in the UK, is making it less and less echt and returning it to its erstwhile role of being a pale imitation of something rather more interesting.

 

There are composers pushing the boundaries of the organ, but the likes of Carlo Curley and Cameron Carpenter aren't playing their works.

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]

I honestly do not want a charismatic performer playing a charismatic programme. I am perfectly happy with good music played stylishly and well, whether it is Sweelinck or MacMillan. I am certainly not impressed by or even interested in organists having a "big personality" and more than I want my plumber to have one. Nor do I want to hear a load of arrangements of rather undemanding music I could perfectly easily hear in the far more satisfactory form that the composer intended played by a "look how clever I am" organist. So often I find myself siding with Dr Johnson - "difficult do you call it? I wish it were impossible!" I have largely given up going to organ recitals because there is so little organ music played these days. [iconoclasm] I would happily throw organs on the bonfire if they have become an end in themselves rather than a means of transmitting the repertoire. Let future generations discover the repertoire and start building organs capable of playing it. [/iconoclasm]

 

 

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My plumber has a big personality and he has a way with pipes, but that apart, I'm not quite sure that you are quite saying what you actually mean. Many performers through history have had big personalities....Liszt, Paganini, Mozart, Virgil Fox, Liberace and even Victor Borge.

 

Transciriptions have been around for centuries, and EVERY performance of the '48' played on a modern piano is a transcription. Brass bands have their own repertoire, but also play transcriptions with outstanding success. 99.9% of anything ever played on a theatre organ is a transcription, yet the instrument enjoyed enormous popularity once upon a time, and when played by a real expert, it still does. It is also the case, that any piece of baroque organ music played on a heavily romantc organ is, by definition, a transcription, but then, Bach often transcribed things, and who would question the efficacy of an organ arrangement of the "Sinfonia to Cantata 29, which the late Carlo Curley made his own?"

 

I am often disappointed by "performances" which may be little more than pressing the right notes; often spectacularly quickly and not without a little physical contortion, but that isn't music. There is a world of difference between performers with a big ego, those with a big personality and those with a big heart. There are introvert performers and extrovert performers; those who smile and those who cry....only the bravest ever laugh at their own absurdity, because a performance of any kind is a very unnatural act; quite removed from the daily grind of working and cooking to survive.

 

Was there ever a story written which isn't about the writer?

 

Was there ever a story read which isn't about the author AND the reader?

 

It's just the same with music, and if the performer is principally a circus-act, it may thrill but it will seldom delight or reach into the soul, whereas something very simple, played with feeling, will do just that.

 

Here are two fascinating transcriptions, both of which are musically marvellous for quite different reasons.

 

The first is a magnificent transcription of Elgar, played by the late and great Carlo Curley, and the second is an "expressionist" (my category) performance of Bach, played by Xaver Varnus at Canterbury Cathedral. It's played in a style which would have been quite familiar to the German-romantic school. (I know it's Canterbury, because there's a familiar face in the audience).

 

The second video is part of a TV programme, and I apologise that Xaver Varnus is speaking in Hungarian without subtitles, but forget that and listen to what he does to the Bach Passacaglia....compelling, fascinating and so VERY wrong to the purist......but it's wonderful music nonetheless.

 

 

[media]

 

 

 

Best

 

MM

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According to the German-language orgelforum.info, CC was awarded the Leonard Bernstein Prize, worth 10,000 Euro, on 17 August during the Prizewinners' Concert of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Lübeck.

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Sometimes it occurs to me that possibly - just possibly - our friend Musing Muso frequently writes far more sense, and is far more caring about his fellow humans, than a lot of our colleagues here might give him credit for.

 

Malcolm

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Sometimes it occurs to me that possibly - just possibly - our friend Musing Muso frequently writes far more sense, and is far more caring about his fellow humans, than a lot of our colleagues here might give him credit for.

 

Malcolm

:) :) :) AND his filing system is second to none, as I recall.

His help in finding an article for me in The Organ Magazine was unbelievably quick.

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:) :) :) AND his filing system is second to none, as I recall.

His help in finding an article for me in The Organ Magazine was unbelievably quick.

 

 

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

 

 

I am still in awe of what I achieved with that, because it had nothing to do with a filing system, which I do not have.

 

The truth is, you asked if anyone had a copy of the article by Gilbert Kennedy, and I recalled a green copy of the Organists' Review, which I just knew was in a brown box somewhere near the top, BECAUSE I'D PLACED IT THERE TWENTY YEARS OR MORE PREVIOUS!!! I also knew that the article was about "The Bracewell Queen."

 

I went to the box, opened the top of it, and the fourth item down from the top was the green copy I was looking for.

 

I'm thinking of auditioning for the role of memory-man in "the 39 steps" ....whoever wrote it! :wacko:

 

Best,

 

MM

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According to the German-language orgelforum.info, CC was awarded the Leonard Bernstein Prize, worth 10,000 Euro, on 17 August during the Prizewinners' Concert of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Lübeck.

 

Which means what exactly? like giving that streetmusician a tenner to get some music lessons ...

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