Notes and Editorial Reviews
AIR ON A G STRING
David Russell (gtr)
TELARC 80693 (62:18)
Partita in a,
Pastorale in F:
Movement 3, BWV 590.
Suite No.3 in D:
Fantasia in c. Sonata No. 5 in G:
Sonata No. 19 in F:
Courente royale. Tombeau sur la mort de M. Comte d’Logy
Sonata No. 22 in G:
Suite in D,
“La prise de gaeta.”
Les silvains. Les tours de passe-passe. Les barricades mistérieuses
The sonorous world of the Baroque that so artfully unites form and feeling in suites of dances and charmingly titled miniatures assembled from judiciously proportioned figurations and sequences, as well as affect-laden, long-lined melodies, is here explored with deep feeling, subtle nuance, and expressive tonal resource by David Russell, who proves himself an admirable guide to its riches, as well as an enlightened transcriber for guitar. In this eloquent survey we’re treated to the music of three of the preeminent composers of the age, along with that of Jacques de Saint-Luc, whom I haven’t encountered before, but who deserves to be heard in such elevated company. The thoughtfully constructed program contrasts the German Baroque of Bach and Weiss with the French and Flemish styles of François Couperin and Saint-Luc, respectively, revealing difficult to define but perceptible differences in manner, texture, and ornament. Saint-Luc (1616–c. 1710) illustrates the transmutation of the late Renaissance into the early Baroque, while Couperin is justly celebrated for his elegance and sensitive decoration.
Russell plays everything with loving attention without sacrificing forward momentum, even in the slower, “pathetic” or elegiac pieces, such as Weiss’s
Tombeau sur la mort de M. Comte d’Logy
. Faster, more energetic dances are robust but never pushed beyond musical limits. Everything progresses with satisfying naturalness, gently inflected by a modest rubato that never fragments the overall conception. The guitar’s timbre is “warmer” than that of the lute, although I won’t say it’s preferable, just different. Russell paints with well-chosen colors that amplify the mood and style of each piece and his playing should convince even purists that the guitar is not out of place in this repertoire. Speaking of purists, nine of the 24 tracks are transcriptions, including such well-known “monuments” as Bach’s Arioso from Cantata No.156 and Couperin’s
Les barricades mistérieuses
. Russell is faithful to the originals, and especially in the Arioso, beautifully differentiates the melody from the muted, plucked accompaniment. He works similar magic in the “Air on a G String.” My one caveat concerning transcriptions is that associating a piece with a particular instrument can predispose the listener to reject the new “voice.” This was especially evident in
Les barricades mistérieuses
, where I’m forced to admit that the harpsichord’s silvery sheen imparts an aura the guitar can’t match.
Listening to David Russell, I felt like a time-traveling guest at one of the courts that echoed to the strains of this refined, multi-hued music, while simultaneously savoring the contemporary interpretations of a master guitarist. Inspired and recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
Pièces de clavecin, Book 2 (Couperin): Ordre 6 in B flat major -
No 5 "Les baricades mistérieuses"
Partita in A minor, BWV 1013 (Bach): IV. Bourrée anglaise
Sonata for Lute no 22 in G major (Weiss): Allegro
Be the first to review this title