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Carol Williams - Plays Singapore

Pub Date: May 1, 2007      Pub: ST        Page: 12
Author: YSTEPH
Day: Tuesday
Edition: LIFE
Headline: Pulling out all the stops
Page Heading: Life!Arts
Source: SPH
Under the able hands – and feet – of Carol Williams, the power of the organ was unleashed concert

Esplanade Concert Hall
Last Friday

SAN DIEGO - based British organist Carol Williams pulled out all the stops in a concert spanning Bach’s Fantasia In C Minor to The Beatles’ Hey Jude, treating the audience to the full range of the Esplanade’s 4,740-pipe Klais organ.

Dressed elegantly in a top that bared her slender shoulders and arms, she chatted easily with the audience, introducing most of the pieces herself in a warm, approachable manner.

She began with the famous Toccata from Widor’s Symphony No. 5 In F, its thrilling procession of arpeggios showing off both the organ and the organist’s agility.

Equally awe-inspiring was her rendition of Bach’s Fantasia In C Minor, where layer upon layer of sound built up to form an austere majesty.

There was then a bit of fun with Gardonyi’s Mozart Changes, where the Hungarian composer took the rondo theme from the last movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata In D through several musical genres.

Audiences got to hear the tweeting sounds of the smallest flutes coming from the normally formidable organ, reaching the top of the organ’s register before descending into a grittier sound for some Broadway razzmatazz.

This jazzy kick continued into her rendition of a medley of Gershwin favourites, including I Got Rhythm, Love Walked In and Embraceable You, with Williams herself doing a soft shoe shuffle over the pedalboard.

After an exhilarating workout via Khachaturian’s famous Sabre Dance from the ballet Gayaneh, she introduced the rhythmically charged music of contemporary Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, who is a favourite of hers.

She then finished the first half of the programme with Kleive’s vibrant Store Gud, Vi Lover Deg, where the power of sound almost made you expect the pipes to start rising and falling, like the weight in the fun-fair game where people test their strength by swinging a hammer.

It is tough to live up to such a good first half, and while Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary showed off the stately, luxurious side of the instrument and the Toccata from Boellmann’s Gothic Suite was infused with menace, the renditions of more contemporary, popular pieces seemed a little bland, lacking the colour and texture of the classical works.

Still, Sousa’s The Washington Post was suitably jubilant, while Hudson’s Moonglow was painted in wistful, insouciant tones.

But Williams only really regained her groove when she went back to baroque – well, almost – with an arrangement by American organist Porter Heaps of the famous organ work Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, commonly attributed to Bach, although most scholars now dispute this.

Milking the famously haunting opening, Williams then deftly let the work spiral into controlled complexity and mayhem, creating a challenge for both organ and organist and giving the audience a full appreciation of the power of the king of musical instruments.
Stephanie Yap
Life!, The Straits Times, Singapore                                          

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