JS Bach + Cameron Carpenter: Forever Young!

I attended an organ concert recently and enjoyed it quite a bit. The organist played a Schumann piece and the 100 Chorale Preludes from Johannes Brahms before he got to the Bach Toccata and Fugue in F-major. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk7N09n6tfo?rel=0&showinfo=0]

I have to admit I was pretty tired when I got to the concert, but I found the Schumann and the Brahms either very boring or just played that way. 

When the organist started playing the Bach Toccata and Fugue in F major it became crystal clear, as if someone opened up a window to the heavens. Bach’s music is eternally young and vibrant and I never tire of listening to it. 

I have listened to a lot of organists and played some myself, but the best I’ve heard is Cameron Carpenter, who sometimes pushes the envelope with ”Showtime”, but I find that he knocks the dust off of music and presents it in a very detailed manor, using an organ’s full capacity for colors and articulation. What I find with many organists is that they play the notes, Cameron Carpenter makes something out of those notes, he makes the music his and I really believe this is what JS Bach would have wanted. 

Then I think about Bach himself. What was he like? How did he play? How did he write all of that music? Obviously he had a system, but it is still incredible to look at his work and try to comprehend how with ink and parchment he wrote all that music. Amazing is the only word that comes to mind. 

The toccata, which means ”touched” or in this case to show off how much an organist can do on the organ, sort of like a guitar soloist with his licks, is there to simply unleash the organists talents and the capacity of the organ in the most powerful way. So, when you listen to Toccatas in the future, just listen to them as ”showing off” pieces, because that is exactly what they are written to do! 


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