Excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch, By Peter Tonguette
Each summer, attendees of CAPA’s Summer Movie Series have a front-row seat to the majesty of the “Mighty Morton” Pipe Organ, which plays during the series in the Ohio Theatre.
Yet this was no ordinary use of the organ. For starters, there was a visual difference: The organ usually makes its way up from the orchestra pit, but for the symphony collaboration, it was already on-stage as audience members filed in — a huge, imposing instrument, just to the left of Music Director Rossen Milanov.
There sat guest organist Cameron Carpenter, a Pennsylvania native who has made his name by designing and then taking on tour a highly unique digital organ.
During this concert, though, Carpenter seemed to be at home at the organ console usually occupied by Summer Movie Series stalwart Clark Wilson.
The opening piece, Joseph Jongen’s “Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra,” began as a sort of magisterial dialogue between Carpenter and the musicians behind him. Soon, organ and orchestra began playing at once, and neither party stepped on the other’s toes in bringing to life this bright, beautiful work.
Throughout, Carpenter’s playing was free of stunts; he was serious, decisive and compelling.
During the work by Jongen, Milanov sometimes had strings, horns and organ firing on all cylinders simultaneously, but Carpenter showed how deft his touch was during small, still passages. So cohesive was the music-making that, at moments, listeners might have wondered where the organ ended and the orchestra began.
For the second half, Milanov summoned grand orchestral playing for the early sections of Camille Saint-Saens’ “Symphony No. 3.” The work goes by the name of the “Organ Symphony,” but audiences had to wait a while for Carpenter’s part and, when it came, it was not explosive but soothing — more like a purr than a clap of thunder.
As the piece progressed, Carpenter was asked to conjure richer, more resonant sounds. The ending was a victorious, volcanic illustration of the power of the “Mighty Morton.”