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Gert van Hoef ... vs ... Cameron Carpenter

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    I have enjoyed reading the comments of everyone on this thread. I wonder how much the cultural milieu has influenced the approach to the organ of Gert and Cameron.

    I have heard many organ concerts in the Netherlands and I think it is fair to say that Dutch culture is much more enamored of the organ than American culture. In the Netherlands most of the performances I have been to have been well attended by people of all ages. Dutch friends who do not attend church, still have opinions about their favorite organ. Often on market days there is an organ recital at the local church.

    Fine organists playing on stunning instruments in this country often have difficulty attracting much of an audience to their concerts. Those who do attend are usually older. Most of my US friends would never think of attending an organ performance.

    With this disparity in the two cultures, I can understand why there is a different approach to their performance style and literature. Personally, I can appreciate both.

    My home organ: Content M5800


      Cameron is talented, but I'm a big Gert van Hoef fan. His music comes from within, and he's always smiling and/or looking very content behind the console playing. He like Fox is an organ evangelist of sorts, going to churches and venues explaining how the organ works to common folks. There is video of him doing this on YouTube. I also like the fact that he plays a wide variety of music and seems to be a very nice young man. He recently married the young lady seen in the videos as his registrant.


        One thing that I would also want to say about Cameron (even though some people may find this ridiculous) is that I don’t think Cameron really is in love with the organ and that he is just playing the wrong instrument. It’s unlikely that this is true since this is just a wild theory of mine but who knows.
        I remember a long time ago my Mum once quoted a story that I think was by Douglas Addams. It was about a puddle of water that believed that it was made for the puddle it was in because it fitted into the puddle so well. But then the sun came out or something and started to evaporate the water from the puddle but while the water was evaporating it something like “I can’t be evaporating I was made for this spot!”
        One thing that we have to remember about the classical organ is that although we praise it for being this mighty colour machine that can emulate other instruments and we constantly reinforce how great it is by comparing it to simplistic instrument like the piano. But we forget that since the early 20th century there has been a rise in electronic music not just electronic organs but electronic music in general such as the Hammond and Moog synthesizer. To confess electronic music is not something I know much about. I just got into this sort of music through Wendy Carols’s album Switched on Bach. But what I want to demonstrate here is what sounds synthesizers can make when they’re not impersonating other instruments.
        Many people would probably sigh at the sound of something like a Moog synthesizer and remark in a very posh manor “what a dreadful noise these machines make. It would be better if they were merely used to recreate sounds of far better instruments like the pipe organ rather create an identity of the own.” But to be honest I enjoy the sounds these synthesizers make but I sometimes find it unfortunate that we pressure electronic music into emulating sounds of other instruments rather than encourage it to have an identity of their own.
        Now I remember someone I think on this forum said something about how the sound of the pipe organ even when on a digital organ is unable to keep up with Cameron’s fast playing so I curious if his playing would work better on something similar to the sound of a Moog synthesizer. I don’t think it would be easy to perform on a moog since these machines are unfortunately polyphonic but it does give an idea as to how responsive these machines can be. Below are links to two Studies No. 1 and 10 from Chopin’s opus 10.
        The next link is a video of a recording of Bach’s Keyboard concerto in A major BWV 1055. This recording would have to be one of my favourite electronic interpretations of a classic work. The guy who made this specializes in synthesized renditions of popular classics similar to the album switched on Bach by Wendy Carlos. I recommend checking out some of the other videos on this channel as I personally enjoyed the videos he’s done.
        Another video from this channel I strongly recommend by listening to is the Sunrise from the Grand Canyon suite by Ferdinand Grofe. Although I should warn you that the visuals may make you a bit dizzy.
        With that all out of the way one argument that Cameron and a lot of people would make is that organs have bass pedals and multiple keyboards which is something the piano doesn’t have. But we also have to remember that the bass pedals are no stranger with instruments such as the piano and especially the harpsichord. Plus there is nothing stoping people from taking an AGO pedal board and strapping it onto a synthesizer.
        One video I would like to leave you on is a contemporary version of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 which uses a mix of sampled as well as electronic sounds. It’s not the most extravagant take on an old classic especially when compared to the Bach and Chopin recordings on the same channel but I find there is an undertone to this video that would the make ears bleed of those with sensitive tastes.
        Last edited by F Kalbrenner; 03-19-2018, 12:02 AM.


          If a mere layman is permitted to comment... Gert and Cameron are both undeniably magnificent organists. But I find Gert's playing to be significantly more musical than Cameron's. After all, it's the music that is most important. Or, at least, it should be.