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Episode 186: Chopin for Organ

Etude in C minor, Op. 10, No. 12, 'Revolutionary'

rc-organ-200“I have a fascination with the Chopin Etudes and transferring the rich rewards that can be reaped technically at the piano – transferring those things to the organ.” - Cameron Carpenter

It turns out that Chopin on the organ is not such a revolutionary concept. Organists from Franz Liszt on have routinely transcribed Chopin’s princely piano works for the King of Instruments. Polonaises. Nocturnes. Preludes. In fact, you could even say that to this day the organ was closest to Chopin’s heart. Truly: as a teenager in Warsaw, Chopin played the organ at Holy Cross Church – the same church where today, Chopin’s heart is tucked away in a vial of cognac. First pillar; left hand side of the nave.

Even after he left Warsaw, Chopin didn’t forget his organ roots. In 1839, he volunteered to play for the funeral in Marseilles of popular operatic tenor Adolphe Nourrit. George Sand was there to chronicle what happened: “The congregation, which had come en masse exercising its curiosity to the extent of paying fifty centimes per seat... was disappointed, because they had expected Chopin to make a row that would bring the roof down, and at least break two or three organ-pipes.”

Now back to Cameron Carpenter. When he found not a few pipes, but indeed the entire organ at New York’s Trinity Church broken after 9/11, he chose to record Chopin on their new all-digital organ. It’s software, not metallurgy, producing these sounds. But then check out the video to see those impossible arpeggios in this etude aren’t coming from Cam Carpenter’s hands…but his feet! An astonishing, aerobic exercise that is truly….revolutionary. - Benjamin K. Roe


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Radio Chopin Episode 186: Chopin for Organ

Etude in C minor, Op. 10, No. 2, 'Revolutionary' - Cameron Carpenter

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