The solo recordings of Scots-Spanish guitarist David Russell have enjoyed strong sales and wide exposure from, among other sources, U.S. Grammy awards. He has emerged as a major star of the instrument, and this program makes an excellent introduction to his talent. Russell is technically fluid, but that is a distinction he shares with several of his contemporaries. His more unusual gifts lie in the area of programming: the music here is drawn on a variety of sources, mostly Latin, but ranging as far afield as a set of transcriptions of Grieg piano miniatures and an excerpt from the Stanley Myers score for the film The Deer Hunter. He holds each work like a bird in the hand, releasing the distinctive sonorities of each and then returning to an overall trajectory. Russell has a striking ability to reimagine sonorities of other instruments on the guitar; sample the shimmering, resonant Norwegian Melody, Op. 12/6, of Grieg (track 10) for an example of the individual beauties that await here. Part of the key to what he does is his willingness to intersperse transparent materials through his program, drawing here on unusual South American repertoire such as a set of Venezuelan popular tunes harmonized by Vicente Emilio Sojo. The overall effect is absolutely entrancing. And everything he does is picked up with maximum fidelity by the fabled engineers of Telarc, in one of the most successful collaborations between artist and technical personnel currently available. One feels oneself in the presence of the guitarist, but there is none of the scraping and hissing and thumping that for some lesser souls defines a realistic plucked-stringed-instrument atmosphere. A superb choice for anyone from Russell fans to newcomers to the classical guitar.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|España, album leaves (6) for piano, Op. 165, B. 37|
|Préludes (12) for piano, Book I, L. 117|
|American Preludes (5) for guitar|
|Pieces (5) from Venezuela, for guitar|