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Mander Organs
Colin Harvey

Cameron Carpenter

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

 

I wasn't implying any meaning - merely reporting something which I thought was relevant to this thread and might perhaps be of interest.

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" ... but I often have a feeling that there’s something psychologically not connected in my head."

 

 

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

 

 

I saw that too, but thought it best not to draw specific attention to it.

 

After listening to CC's playing, his interviews and gaping in disbelief at the reviews, I think even I need a therapist....possibly a brain surgeon.

 

Best,

 

MM

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" ... but I often have a feeling that there’s something psychologically not connected in my head."

 

 

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

 

 

I listened to the Radio 3 broadcast yesterday.

 

I was impressed by Cameron Carpenter virtuosity, as always.

 

I was equally impressed by his inventiveness.

 

I was impressed by his showmanship.

 

I wasn't too impressed when he said that Bach's organ music was "deeply unbeautiful," so I instead, listened to the Youtube clip of Francis Jackson playing and faithfully interpreting Bach's "LIebster Jesu," and as always, I learned something....that beautiful legato and those superbly executed embellishments.

 

I can see why I used to cycle 90 miles by bike when I was 14, just to hear Francis play the organ at York....a master musician at work.

 

I went back later to the i-Pod broadcast of Cameron Carpenter, and came to the conclusion that his music is as ugly as his hair-style,and when it comes to playing Bach in the expressionist manner, he's trying to re-invent a style of playing which is just plain old fashioned and which he actually doesn't do very well.

 

Best,

 

MM

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The reviewer wrote, "the wonders of Carpenter's technique (his foot pedalling is beyond compare) could only sustain interest up to the end of the first piece." No comment on his hand pedalling then!

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The only piece that came off at all well was the A major P+F. But even then, I've heard better performances of it from teenagers preparing for grade 8.

 

Everything else was a joke.

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Apart from the sheer loudness of just about everything C-C played, (I had no idea there were so many very loud reeds on the Albert Hall organ), I don't actually recall a single note of the second broadcast.

 

I found myself chuckling, because having heard C-C how "grotesque" and "unbeautiful" Bach's organ works were, I just wondered how the hell he could consider his own cyncretic P & F anything other than the same. Clever perhaps, but by far the most over-inflated piece of non-music I've ever heard. With Virgil Fox, it was possible enter into the spirit of glitz, showmanship and high camp,and with Carlo Curley,one could be amused and thrilled; sometimes moved by things of great beauty and expressiveness. Xaver Varnues brings real musicinship to the expressionist style,while his crossover music is always perfectly judged and executed..

 

When it comes to music-making, I just regard C-C as delusional.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Apart from the sheer loudness of just about everything C-C played, (I had no idea there were so many very loud reeds on the Albert Hall organ), I don't actually recall a single note of the second broadcast.

 

I found myself chuckling, because having heard C-C how "grotesque" and "unbeautiful" Bach's organ works were, I just wondered how the hell he could consider his own syncratic P & F anything other than the same. Clever perhaps, but by far the most over-inflated piece of non-music I've ever heard. With Virgil Fox, it was possible renter into the spirit of glitz, showmanship and high camp,and with Carlo Curley,one could be amused and thrilled; sometimes moved by things of great beauty and expressiveness. Xaver Varnues brings real musicinship to the expressionist style,while his crossover music is always perfgectly judged and executed..

 

When it comes to music-making,I just regard C-C as delusional.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

 

I emphatically concur with what you have said in it's entirety. I think it's clear case of the BBC being conned!

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The only piece that came off at all well was the A major P+F. But even then, I've heard better performances of it from teenagers preparing for grade 8.

 

Everything else was a joke.

 

Indeed. Totally risible, grotesque in its literal sense, ie. clownlike. I really don't think it's worth wasting any more words on a circus act like this.

 

JS

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I have not bothered much with CC before - there are others I find more satisfying to listen to. I did however look at a couple of YouTube bites on here with him playing Chopin on a 'digital' somewhere in the USA but not much else. I logged in to R3 Listen again earlier today just to get a sense of what everyone was on about here - the F&F in G minor re assembled for no apparent reason (artisitc or otherwise) and the marvellous 1st movement from the 1st 'Cello suite diverted off into horrendously alien relms - what's the point? I am reasonably open minded and hopefully no musical snob but it all seemed decidedly odd - the visual apect to me would have been irrelevant if the rest had been at all captivating or engaging from a musical point of view. New interpretations and ideas on performance are entirely healthy and welcome and indeed music would be in a state of 'suspended non animation' of this were not the case. 'In your face' for the sake of 'in your face' however, does nothing for me at any rate.

 

Coincidentally - just before heading south into the sun with the family last month I bought some CDs for car consumption - all from BBC Music mag. - the best by very far being David Goode playing Bach on the 1714 Silbermann in Freiberg Cathedral - pure magic - Bach being allowed to speak for himself - and no visuals to detract.

 

A

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The only piece that came off at all well was the A major P+F. But even then, I've heard better performances of it from teenagers preparing for grade 8.

 

Everything else was a joke.

 

 

But it's not a joke Nick; that's the worry. This man...this phenomenon....(which he surely is), is able, (by means of some very clever marketing), to fill a space the size of the Albert Hall, to be taken seriously by a normally sober, artistic establishment and to have people reacting to him as if he were an Olympic champion. I'm quite sure that in those two Radio 3 broadcasts, we heard all of the 10,000 pipes and every note of the instrument, and not one of them was remotely musical.

 

He is doing for organ music what X-factor has done for pop-music, where incompetent judges stir up the mob and turn singing into a spectator sport.

 

If organists have to become more commercially minded to be successful, then I hope that they would follow on from what Carlo Curley did, and what the Hungarian organist Xaver Varnus does, because in taking the organ to the people, it is possible to find common ground, communicate and share something extraordinary together, where virtuosity is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

 

I just wonder if Cameron Carpenter would have any following at all, if he played out of sight and people had to use their ears instead of their eyes.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

 

PS: Sorry John....I didn't mean the pipes were unmusical....which they are. In fact, I'm sure they are all very beautiful and worthy of being retained rather than replaced with computers and loudspeakers. I'm digging a hole for myself here...... :huh:

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I just wonder if Cameron Carpenter would have any following at all, if he played out of sight and people had to use their ears instead of their eyes.

 

Probably not.

 

A

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I had decided not to post anymore on this board and, indeed, wrote to JPM to tell him as such and to give my reasoning but this thread, possibly more than any other I have read, has annoyed me beyond measure, hence this post.

 

I can't say that I particularly like Cameron Carpenter's style of dress but I'm certainly not offended by it. It isn't important - I might have dressed like that when I was in my 20's - but not now and we have all, at some time, made fashion 'faux-pas'!!! His playing doesn't particularly do an awful lot for me either, I admire his phenomenal technique but think that his musicianship is, perhaps sometimes, a little misplaced but we can all look with a certain horror at performances we gave when younger and not as wise as we are now. I could say that about a good many other musicians I know, some of whom post on here! - and we have all heard performances, in some cases by distinguished players, where we have wondered "why do it like that?"

 

My grandmother gave me my first keyboard lessons. She was an FRCO and a fine player in the days when women weren't encouraged to pursue academic careers. As well as imparting a lot of music she also sort to instill into me what you might call 'old fashioned' values. One of them was that it is better to say nothing about someone than to say something bad or to cause them upset or to malign them in public. Sadly, I have to say that, I think, some of the comments here have not reflected those values and, in my opinion, have been less than one would expect from professional, intelligent, articulate members of this community.

 

Consider this without cynicism. If Cameron Carpenter is so bad why have the BBC invited him to take part in the countries most prestigious music festival? A festival broadcast throughout the world and a festival running at a time when large numbers of people ( I will refrain from falling into 'commentator mode' and saying 'the whole world') are focusing on other events also being broadcast from this country. Why is it that he has been invited, next season, to residencies at two of Europe’s great concert halls, the Berlin Philharmonie and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Perhaps what some can't cope with are that some of the comments made by Carpenter in the 'Evening Standard' article. comments that, perhaps, don't live up to my grandmothers high ideals, and posted by Philip J Wells are more true than some of us would really like to admit and point directly at some of us.

 

I could go on but, in short, I think that some of the comments on this thread are reprehensible and some of them are not worthy of intelligent, articulate musicians or of this board..

 

I fully expect to be shot down in flames but it is high time this thread was put to sleep!

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Consider this without cynicism. If Cameron Carpenter is so bad why have the BBC invited him to take part in the countries most prestigious music festival?

 

Because even the BBC needs bums on seats. They can be sure that most of the 10000 people sitting there will not be lovers of organ music but people who like rock-stars. So they will love it.

 

Great musicianship is about music. Great performanceship is about the performer. Those who love music should be given a health warning.

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Increasingly I feel that perhaps, just perhaps, if we ignored Mr Carpenter he would go away. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that there's no such thing as bad publicity. In a way it is all the controversy he generates that make people go to see and hear him, perhaps out of curiosity.

 

I wonder whether people generally are sometimes too ready to criticise the standard of posts on this forum. I belong to another which I very rarely read and it seems that very few people ever post things on it. Although not a member I frequently read the postings on a third organ forum which is seriously bad for my blood pressure both in the topics raised and the utter drivel frequently written in response to them. Personally, I don't think this forum is as bad as some like to make out and, most of the time I enjoy it. The danger (and sometimes advantage) with any on-line communication, whether it be a discussion forum or something like Facebook, is that it can easily become a vehicle for those, for whatever reason, lacking "real" interpersonal skills, nutters and those who like to pretend they have more knowledge, qualifications and expertise than they really have. I don't think that could be said about this particular forum and I for one, am grateful for that and for all that John and Rachel do to keep it going.

 

Malcolm

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Because even the BBC needs bums on seats. They can be sure that most of the 10000 people sitting there will not be lovers of organ music but people who like rock-stars. So they will love it.

 

 

'Bums on seats' is a strong argument - and one that was always going to be picked up on - the rest of the comment is just patronising!

 

So why do the Germans and Austrians want to hear him - why is it that the Berlin Philharmonie and the Mozarteum in Salzburg are offering him a residency? - the same reason - perhaps that's why the Berlin Phil got Rattle - bums on seats!!!

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I had decided not to post anymore on this board and, indeed, wrote to JPM to tell him as such and to give my reasoning but this thread, possibly more than any other I have read, has annoyed me beyond measure, hence this post.

 

I can't say that I particularly like Cameron Carpenter's style of dress but I'm certainly not offended by it. It isn't important - I might have dressed like that when I was in my 20's - but not now and we have all, at some time, made fashion 'faux-pas'!!! His playing doesn't particularly do an awful lot for me either, I admire his phenomenal technique but think that his musicianship is, perhaps sometimes, a little misplaced but we can all look with a certain horror at performances we gave when younger and not as wise as we are now. I could say that about a good many other musicians I know, some of whom post on here! - and we have all heard performances, in some cases by distinguished players, where we have wondered "why do it like that?"

 

My grandmother gave me my first keyboard lessons. She was an FRCO and a fine player in the days when women weren't encouraged to pursue academic careers. As well as imparting a lot of music she also sort to instill into me what you might call 'old fashioned' values. One of them was that it is better to say nothing about someone than to say something bad or to cause them upset or to malign them in public. Sadly, I have to say that, I think, some of the comments here have not reflected those values and, in my opinion, have been less than one would expect from professional, intelligent, articulate members of this community.

 

Consider this without cynicism. If Cameron Carpenter is so bad why have the BBC invited him to take part in the countries most prestigious music festival? A festival broadcast throughout the world and a festival running at a time when large numbers of people ( I will refrain from falling into 'commentator mode' and saying 'the whole world') are focusing on other events also being broadcast from this country. Why is it that he has been invited, next season, to residencies at two of Europe’s great concert halls, the Berlin Philharmonie and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Perhaps what some can't cope with are that some of the comments made by Carpenter in the 'Evening Standard' article. comments that, perhaps, don't live up to my grandmothers high ideals, and posted by Philip J Wells are more true than some of us would really like to admit and point directly at some of us.

 

I could go on but, in short, I think that some of the comments on this thread are reprehensible and some of them are not worthy of intelligent, articulate musicians or of this board..

 

I fully expect to be shot down in flames but it is high time this thread was put to sleep!

 

 

There is a clear inconsistency here, though. You say that his playing doesn't do much for you, but at the same time imply that others who have expressed negative reactions are wrong given that he has been invited to play at prestigious venues. I don't think that Carpenter's style - fashion or music - can be attributed to his youth (he's 31). Indeed, he appears extremely intelligent and speaks much truth about "the organ scene" that is perhaps a bit too close to home for some. His style is carefully cultivated, and actually rather old fashioned in many ways. I can understand that people would find it galling that he could pack the Royal Albert Hall while an organ recital, even one given by a fine player, typically attracts a handful of strange anoraked folk, and few music lovers who are not themselves in some way related to the organ. Does that mean that Carpenter should be vilified for doing so? Of course not. But I can understand those who are uncomfortable with the music itself being relegated to a position of secondary interest, and, having gone to hear Carpenter's prom on Saturday, can say that I personally found it tedious and one dimensional. However, the reaction of the audience would suggest that I was in the minority, so who I am I to say? (Incidentally, what was the point of him playing the F major toccata in F sharp, apart from it being announced with the sole intention of impressing? That got the concert of to a bad start for me even before a note was played.) Funnily enough, I would rather have listened to him speak about music for an hour rather than listening to him play.

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I had decided not to post anymore on this board and, indeed, wrote to JPM to tell him as such and to give my reasoning but this thread, possibly more than any other I have read, has annoyed me beyond measure, hence this post.

 

If you disagree with so many comments, do you not feel the need to continue to present your views to help balance them? And bad reviews happen!

 

I am somewhat indifferent to Cameron Carpenter myself. I feel that he pushes his phenomenal technique just that bit too far, so that in the Proms I was noticing avoidable wrong notes and uneven playing as a result. I preferred his own arrangements and improvisations to his more nearly straight performances, because I had no alternatives in mind for them to live up to. And, as usual, I found his speaking genuinely thought-provoking even when it annoyed.

 

Paul

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There is a clear inconsistency here, though. You say that his playing doesn't do much for you, but at the same time imply that others who have expressed negative reactions are wrong given that he has been invited to play at prestigious venues.

 

It's not the views that I object to - I don't have a problem with someone disliking a performance or a style or whatever.

 

What really grates, what really annoys me, is the manner in which it is put!

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