American organist Cameron Carpenter became known both for his formidable technical prowess and the athletic showmanship of his performances. While his repertoire is classical, his persona is more that of a pop star than of a traditional classical musician. Carpenter rose to prominence as much on the basis of his outrageously virtuosic performances on YouTube as his commercially released recordings. His 2008 Telarc album Revolutionary was the first solo organ recital to be nominated for a Grammy Award. Vivien Schweitzer wrote in The New York Times, "He has pushed the boundaries of organ technique to breathtaking heights, meshing virtuosity with musical intelligence." A musical prodigy, Carpenter sang at the Metropolitan Opera as a solo boy soprano, and performed J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier when he was 11. He studied organ with Gerre Hancock, John Weaver, and Paul Jacobs at Juilliard, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. From 2008 until 2009, he was artist-in-residence at New York's Middle Collegiate Church, where he designed the organ. In Carpenter's designs for virtual pipe organs, the pipes are replaced by sampled sounds that are mixed and amplified with such sophistication that the sound is nearly indistinguishable from that of a traditional organ. Besides performing, Carpenter has made organ arrangements of over 200 works originally for piano or orchestra, and it was the performance of one of them, Chopin's Revolutionary Etude, that first brought him to the attention of the public when it was broadcast on YouTube and landed him a multi-disc contract with Telarc. He is also a composer, and while he is known largely for his own works and transcriptions, he is devoted to the repertoire of traditional organ literature.
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Classical - Released March 15, 2019 | Sony Classical
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Classical - Released April 18, 2014 | Sony Classical
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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