A fine survey of the Renaissance from Russell, in his 11th recording for Telarc. He won a Grammy for his 2004 Telarc album, Aire Latino. Although the period is best known for its abundance of vocal polyphonic works, an important development around 1600 was a burgeoning of instrumental works for the lute or guitar, without texts being sung. The works came primarily from composers in England, Spain and Italy. 26 examples are performed by Russell, of which the preponderance come from the pen of the Elizabethan John Dowland. Some of the lesser-known Spanish composers add to Russell’s varied program. I was especially attracted to the two just-over-one-minute pieces by Pietro Paolo Borrono of Milan – sprightly saltarellos dances in 3/4 time. His two pieces introduce the final track of the set, another triple-time Italian peasant dance which brings the collection to a boisterous close.
Telarc’s guitar sound is rich and full without overmuch annoying string-whistling effects. Although I’m partial to works written for the harpsichord being performed on that instrument rather than on the modern piano, I think I prefer the louder and richer sound of a modern acoustic guitar to that of the historically accurate lute.
– John Sunier