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CD REVIEW
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Federico Moreno TORROBA (1891–1982)
Sonatina (1965): (1. Allegretto [3:50]; 2. Andante [3:40]; 3. Allegro [4:01])
4. Burgalesa (1928) [2:35]
Suite Castellana (1926): (5. Fandanguillo [2:18]; 6. Arada [2:59]; 7. Danza [2:26]; 8. Madroños (1954) [2:49])
Castillos de España: (9. Alcázar de Segovia [2:53]; 10. Alba de Tomes [1:16]; 11. Montemayor [1:28]; 12. Zafra [2:03]; 13. Manzanares del Real [1:08]; 14. Sigüenza [1:47]; 15. Simancas [1:32]; 16. Turégano [2:20]; 17. Torija [2:45]; 18. Calatrava [2:51]; 19. Redaba [1:43]; 20. Alcañiz [1:30]; 21. Javier [2:46]; 22. Olite [2:11]; 23. Nocturno (1926) [3:33])
Aires de la Mancha: (24. Jeringonza [1:32]; 25. Ya llega el Invierno [1:44]; 26. Copilla [0:48]; 27. La Pastora [1:57]; 28. Seguidilla [1:54])
David Russell (guitar)
rec. Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, 11-13 February 1996.
TELARC CD-80451 [65:57]





More or less simultaneously with the first instalment in a Naxos Torroba series [review] I have been listening to this more than ten-year-old recital, recently reissued. Only one composition is common to both discs, but this is the longest: Castillos de España. There at once I register an important difference in approach. Ana Vidovic on Naxos is lyrical, almost dreamy, seeing the old castles as through a haze, while David Russell makes his observations on a clear day, observing the life and the action. He is an eager and close participant; Ana Vidovic is an onlooker from a distance. Of course Russell was an experienced musician even ten years ago and having spent considerable time in Spain he has firsthand knowledge of the country, its history and traditions. One shouldn’t make too heavy weather of this; Russell is a remarkable player on all counts. This disc illustrates clearly why he is one of the most respected of today’s guitarists. It is not just a question of technique – all the players on the international circuit are tremendously accomplished – but there is a wholeheartedness about his playing that is so infectious and invigorating that one can do little but take off one’s sombrero and shout Olé!

Timewise the disc spans the greater part of Torroba’s composing for the guitar. The Nocturno was one of his first pieces for Segovia in 1926. The same year he created the Suite Castellana, which is named after the old Spanish kingdom that ruled central and northern Spain. It is based on traditional music from the area. Burgalesa, from two years later was a tribute to the city of Burgos and Madroños (1954) is the name of a mountain in the district of Murcia.

The Sonatina from 1965 is an exquisite composition and ranks with Torroba’s best. Finally in the five short, sharply contrasting pieces that comprise Aires de la Mancha, we are in the region of "The Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance".

In all these works Russell’s playing is crystal clear, his zest and rhythmic acuity second to none. Add to this his beautiful tone and sensitive lyrical playing. Telarc’s fame as a technical high-end company rests mainly on spectacular orchestral and choral recordings but they can also reproduce the intimate surroundings of a sole guitar. This means that for anyone who wants a cross-section of Torroba’s music for guitar in modern sound, this is a clear first recommendation.

Göran Forsling


 


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