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Cameron Carpenter, organ – If You Could Read My Mind [TrackList follows] – Sony Classical CD & DVD 888833796882 (DVD: 45 min.) ****:

This is the debut recording of Cameron Carpenter’s International Touring Organ, which was built to his own specifications using digitized sounds from organs across the world. He wanted to keep the best of the classical organ, but to liberate it from the pipe organ’s immobility, its moving parts, cost, and institutionality. He also wanted to combine the classic cathedral organ with the cinema organ (the Wurlitzer). He wants to innovate the relationship between organ and organist, and he hopes this instrument will challenge the way the world thinks about organs.

The DVD has six music videos of Carpenter’s performances on the touring organ, plus a documentary which shows the complex shipping, unloading and setting up of the touring organ for each concert. Although there is a Bach organ sonata and Dupre’s Variations on a Noel, which were written for organ, most of the selections are transcriptions of other music for the organ, mostly by Carpenter himself. There are also five Song Paraphrases of pop tunes for the organ, by Carpenter, plus his original Music for an Imaginary Film. This is the world premiere recording of the latter unusual ten-minute organ work. He opens the concert on the CD with his elaboration of the “Prelude” from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in C.

The transcription from the piano original of Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 4 goes quite well, and Bernstein’s rollicking Candide Overture, as well as the stirring Oblivion of Piazzolla transfer extremely well to the organ. The videos show the interesting uses Carpenter makes of the various manual and stops, as well as many closeups of his deft pedal work, concentrating on his usual shoes, which he has designed as part of a complete wardrobe for the organist.

It’s too bad this album is not in hi-res surround as were some of his earlier albums, but it is nice to have the video to see Carpenter in action and also the six-minute documentary on the touring organ itself.

TrackList, CD:

1. Cello Suite Elaboration (After Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major BWV 1007: Prelude) (Johann Sebastian Bach/Cameron Carpenter)
2. “Candide”: Overture (Leonard Bernstein)
3. Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 (Sergei Rachmaninov)
4. Music for an Imaginary Film (Cameron Carpenter)
5. Oblivion (Astor Piazzolla)
6. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Moderato
7. Variations sur un Nol pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation I: Larghetto
8. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation II: Poco animato
9. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation II: Canon a l’octave
10. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation IV: Vif
11. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation V: Vivace
12. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation VI: Canon a la quarte et a la quinte
13. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation VII: Vivace
14. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation VIII: Canon a la seconde
15. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation IX: Anime
16. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Variation X: Non troppo vivace
17. Variations sur un Noel pour orgue Op. 20 (Marcel Dupre) Presto
18. If You Could Read My Mind (Gordon Lightfoot)
19. Alfie (Burt Bacharach)
20. Sisters of Mercy (Leonard Cohen)
21. Pure Imagination (Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse)
22. Back In Baby’s Arms (Bob Montgomery)
23. Piano Sonata No. 4 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 30 (Alexander Scriabin) Andante
24. Piano Sonata No. 4 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 30 (Alexander Scriabin) Prestissimo volando
25. Organ Sonata No. VI in G Major (Johann Sebastian Bach) Vivace
26. Organ Sonata No. VI in G Major (Johann Sebastian Bach) Lento
27. Organ Sonata No. VI in G Major (Johann Sebastian Bach) Allegro
 

TrackList, DVD:

  1. Introduction
  2. Bernstein: Candide Overture
  3. Chopin: Minute Waltz
  4. Liszt: La Campanella
  5. Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp Major
  6. Bach/Carpenter: Cello Suite Elaboration
  7. Carpenter: Music for an Imaginary Film
  8. Documentary on the Birth of the International Touring Organ

—John Sunier