David Russell plays Bach

David Russell

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David Russell plays Bach Review

by Zoran Minderovic

As David Russell demonstrates, Bach, who wrote no music for the guitar, sounds like a guitarist's composer. Not only does Bach's lute music translate well into the related but distinct sonic world of the guitar, but even transcriptions of music for other instruments -- including violin, cello, and keyboard -- sound quite authentic in the hands of a virtuoso guitarist. While the reason for this may be the abstract quality of Bach's music, it should be pointed out that it takes a special kind of guitarist to deliver an authentic, convincing performance of Bach. Russell is among those who know how to play Bach. Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly expressive, and stylistically accurate, Russell's playing ingeniously adapts the characteristic sonority of the guitar to the technical and interpretive demand of Bach's music. A fine example of Russell's ability to capture the complex and profound spirit of Bach's music is his authoritative performance of the astonishing chaconne from his own transcription of the Partita for solo violin in D minor. Russell's performance fully reveals the lyricism, passion, and spiritual depth of the chaconne. The Partita is an opulent work and Russell approaches each movement as a distinct stylistic challenge, intuitively responding to the spirit and atmosphere of each dance movement. Equally impressive is Russell's rendition of an arrangement of the Lute Suite No. 4, which is Bach's transcription of his luminous Partita for violin in E major. In fact, it is tempting to say that Russell's scintillating playing, particularly in the first movement, approximates the sonic brilliance of the original. This album includes the Prelude, Allegro & Fugue for lute played with exquisite taste, as well as chorales from two well-known cantatas: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme and Jesus bleibeit meine Freude, widely known as Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

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