David Russell

The Grandeur of the Baroque

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Scots classical guitarist David Russell, commendably undaunted in keeping to his blue jeans look as he approaches his sixth decade, recorded a good deal of Baroque music earlier in his career before branching out into Latin and other repertories during his high-flying career with the Telarc label. Returning to the Baroque with this album of transcriptions, he has delivered a splendid release. Russell is a crowd-pleasing guitarist, tending toward collections of favorites artfully assembled into a satisfying program, and that's what is here. Russell uses his own transcriptions of Handel's Suite No. 7 for harpsichord, HWV 432, and Couperin's 26th Ordre; the Toccata from Bach's Partita No. 6 for keyboard, BWV 830, is transcribed for guitar by Hubert Kappel; and the Suite No. 14 (Chiesa 14) by Sylvius Leopold Weiss, a lute work, is lightly adapted for guitar. In all of these works, many of which make quite a leap from the keyboard to the guitar, Russell simply has the gift of making it look easy, whether he is tossing off Couperin's ornaments, keeping control over the large Overture and Passacaille that frame Handel's suite, or rendering the perfect simplicity of Weiss' dances, which were much admired by Bach himself. Sample the delicious Sinfonias, arrangements of Three-Part Inventions of Bach (track 2-5), for a taste of Russell's ability to play expressively with perfect accuracy in polyphonic textures. Telarc's engineers, working at Clonick Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, achieve a very clean sound; it may even be too clean for some, but with Russell's style it works very well. The result is an album that would make a fine starting point for any classical guitar collection.

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