Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween Concert with Cameron Carpenter

Davies HallThe Davies Hall audience was in a festive mood Sunday night for organist Cameron Carpenter accompanying Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera. Many came dressed for Halloween. I saw several witches, & my concert companion pointed out a little boy dressed as the Phantom, complete with cape & mask. A bleach-blond Mr. Cameron strode eagerly on stage, wearing thick-heeled shoes, bedazzled pants & a tight-fitting black t-shirt. He launched into the Bach Chaconne in D minor as a prelude to the movie. He displayed an easy mastery of the console, constantly changing registers, & let loose a colorful barrage of sounds. There were moments of exuberant bombast, but Mr. Carpenter could also make the instrument sound very small. He made it so fun that I chuckled several times. The audience cheered the Chaconne, & Mr. Carpenter reacted when a woman whistled at him approvingly.

Mr. Carpenter spoke briefly before playing for the movie & said that he would both follow tradition & depart from it. His accompaniment set the mood for each scene but never drew attention to itself. It utilized a wide variety of timbres & sounded like a symphonic film score. A quiet theme incorporating the tinkling of chimes was associated with the Phantom. There are several performance scenes from Gounod's Faust, but Mr. Carpenter avoided the literal solution of playing music from the opera.

I'd never seen this iconic movie before, & I found it a bit clunky for something near the high point of the silent era. The sets representing the interior of the Paris Opera are impressive, though, & a sequence shot in early Technocolor is startling. I did not expect Lon Chaney's ghoulish Phantom to be more creepy when masked. The intertitles taught me the word "barouche."

The film was shown with an intermission. Mr. Cameron impressively performed the entire program without any music. The audience gave him enthusiastic applause & cheers. They recalled him twice but were not persistent enough to demand an encore, which was a shame.

§ The Phantom of the Opera: Halloween Concert with Cameron Carpenter
Cameron Carpenter, organ

Bach: Chaconne in D minor
The Phantom of the Opera (Silent film with live music accompaniment)

Sun, Oct 30, 2011 8:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

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