COMPOSERS: Bacharach and Cohen,Bernstein,Carpenter,Dupre,JS Bach/Carpenter,Lightfoot,Piazzolla,Rachmaninov,Scriabin
ALBUM TITLE: Cameron Carpenter: If You Could Read My Mind
WORKS: Works by JS Bach/Carpenter, Bernstein, Dupré, Rachmaninov Piazzolla, Lightfoot, Scriabin, Carpenter, Bacharach and Cohen
PERFORMER: Cameron Carpenter (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 888837968821
I doubt there are many who could accomplish technically what Cameron Carpenter does with his ‘International Touring Organ’, a five-manual digital instrument of staggering complexity, custom-built for him by American organ firm Marshall & Ogletree. It’s given its first outing here. Carpenter’s technique is astonishing, as shown in this album’s accompanying DVD film, an engaging piece of theatre where he shows off his remarkable pedal facility by playing the theme to Chopin’s Minute Waltz with his feet. And in Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Carpenter’s own Music for an Imaginary Film, his embellishments, manual changes and tonal variety prove him to be one of the instrument’s undisputed technical masters and entertainers.
But what of the CD itself, which mixes repertoire written for the traditional pipe instrument with music from the theatre organ scene? Carpenter’s reasons for choosing the music are, he says, that they each ‘offer a different taste of ecstasy’. And the recor-ding does add up to a satisfying musical experience – mostly. His arrangement of Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 4 is captivating in its imaginative transformation, and although his jazzing up of the first movement from Bach’s First Cello Suite may not appeal to all, it’s done with considerable skill and panache. His Dupré Variations sur un Noël is awe-inspiring and it’s almost impossible not to grin along to the astonishing displays of virtuosity in ‘Back in baby’s arms’. Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 6, however, is rather metronomic. Stripped of the organ’s multitude of sonic effects, I would have liked to have heard less of Marshall & Ogletree and rather more of Cameron Carpenter.