Cameron Carpenter, pipe organ – All You Need Is Bach – Sony Classical

by | Dec 7, 2016 | Classical CD Reviews

The latest from today’s replacement for Virgil Fox on the pipe organ.

Cameron Carpenter, pipe organ – All You Need Is Bach [TrackList follows] – Sony Classical 88875178262 ****:

Previous Carpenter albums were surround sound or videos or both, but this time we’ll have to be satisfied with a plain old audio stereo CD. (As more and more U.S. labels pull away from hi-res and surround sound for music.)  Carpenter is the current replacement for the pipe organ crowd for the late Liberace-ish Virgil Fox. Carpenter travels around with an immense electronic installation he calls his International Touring Organ, the only one of its kind. It samples the sounds of Carpenter’s favorite pipe organs from around the world. He obviously doesn’t trust the wide variety of pipe organs found here and there.  Some leading pianists do a similar thing with their instrument – always appearing with their trusted Steinway or whatever which is shipped with them. One critic says “[He] drags his instrument into the 21st century.” He also does most of his own arrangements, and even has a line of special shoes and other outfits for the more showy pipe organist.  There is a video of him on YouTube and Carpenter and his gear should really be seen to be believed. His showmanship is clearly in the forefront.

Carpenter’s performances on the 20 tracks of this CD will please many Bach fans, although a couple do disfigure Bach rather seriously. Only three of them are his arrangements, and he achieves a usually fine Baroque sound that is not overly Romanticized but great fun.  I wonder what Glenn Gould would have thought of Carpenter’s Bach. As the Observer says, “true organ aficianados may wince,” but this young gay guy can really communicate.


(Die) Kunst der Fuge, ‘(The) Art of Fugue’, Contrapunctus 9 (a 4, alla        Duodecima)
6) Trio Sonatas, No. 3 in D minor, BWV527
Preludes and Fugues, Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV544
(6) French Suites, No. 5 in G, BWV816
(6) Trio Sonatas, No. 1 in E flat, BWV525
Orgel-Büchlein, O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross, BWV622
Passacaglia and Fugue
15) 2-Part Inventions, F

—John Sunier

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