David Russell hails from Minorca and has a street named after him in the town where he grew up there. Andres Segovia himself congratulated Russell “on your musicality and guitaristic technique.” This is Russell’s 12th recording for Telarc, and his previous Aire Latino CD just won a Grammy.
His program in this recital includes some familiar classical guitar standards, such as Villa-Lobos’ lovely Preludes and Sor’s Variations on a Theme by Mozart, plus some transcriptions of familiar melodies such as Malaguena, Debussy’s Girl With the Golden Hair, and even the Cavatina from The Deer Hunger. But there are many rarely-heard pieces which gave an air of adventureness to the disc. These include a prelude by Uruguayan composer Abel Carlevaro, a Hungarian Fantasy from Hungarian composer Johann Mertz, and Five Venezuelan Pieces harmonized by Vicente Sojo. The Grieg selections are Five Lyric Pieces, transcribed from the 66 he had written for the piano.
Russell’s concert flows from selection to selection with the same polish and expert phrasing that is shown in all his performances. Telarc is well-acquainted with the perfect mic setup for Russell by now – neither too close to accentuate whistles on the strings nor too far back to lose focus and over-emphasize hall acoustics. I was surprised to find (being a surround-sound-for-music maven) I preferred the sound of the two-channel SACD option here to the 5.0 surround – sounded just a tad more focused.
– John Sunier