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If You Could Read My Mind

Notes & Reviews:

In this CD/DVD package from Sony, Cameron Carpenter presents a stunning program of classical pieces and popular song arrangements for organ, paired with a documentary, Birth of the International Touring Organ. Treating virtuoso organ playing as an extreme sport, Carpenter frequently delivers wildly inventive and exciting recitals that have made him a pop star, and such flights of fancy as Music for an Imaginary Film, and his Song Paraphrases, are explorations of his undeniably mad skills as a performer and as a composer of startling ingenuity and freshness. Carpenter's renditions of other composers' works are, at their core, faithful transcriptions, though they sometimes turn into outlandish improvisations that display his incredible dexterity and athleticism. For example, his version of Bach's Prelude from the First Cello Suite starts out as a note-for-note exercise for the pedals, but quickly turns into a fantastic elaboration that sends Bach's original flying off into another dimension. Yet as flamboyant and physically exhausting as his take on Bernstein's Candide Overture is, it is quite true to the original music and remains close to its orchestral colors. Equally accurate and effective are his subdued versions of Rachmaninov's Vocalise and Piazzola's Oblivion, and his rather straightforward performances of Dupré's Variations sur un Noël, Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 4, and Bach's Organ Sonata No. 6 in C major remind one that Carpenter really is a serious organist when he isn't having a great time showing off, which is obvious here. ~ Blair Sanderson


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