Cameron Carpenter: Revolutionary

Telarc
Performance •••• SACD Mix ••••½ Extras •••½
Despite his American Boychoir and Juilliard training, 27-year-old organist Cameron Carpenter has forged his own path, with a showmanship worthy of Las Vegas. What confounds the purists' attempts to dismiss him are his prodigious technical chops and his potential for drawing younger audiences to a traditional (if not archaic) instrument.

The program includes an intelligently organized performance of Bach's Chorale Prelude on Nun komm, der heiden Heiland (BWV 659) and Carpenter's appropriately wild adaptation of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Also here: Duke Ellington's "Solitude" and two originals. The 65-minute disc is best enjoyed in small samplings, a point made clear by the three video performances on the bonus DVD-Audio disc.

But you must go back to the main disc to appreciate the sensational recording that Carpenter has been given. The organ is the perfect instrument for surround sound, and on this SACD, both the player and his mixer (Robert Friedrich) have, ahem, pulled out all the stops. The center channel, subdued on the DVD-A, is put to good use on the SACD, and the spatial effects are excitingly deployed from front to back and from side to side.

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