Affectuoso : Virtuoso Guitar Music from the Eighteenth Century
Rudolf STRAUBE (1717-1780s)
'Suite' for guitar (arr. Takeuchi) [14:36]
Sonata I for guitar & harpsichord [18:01]
Giacomo MERCHI (1730-after 1789)
La Follia di Spagna con Variazioni, for guitar* [15:49]
Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782)
Sonata for guitar & violin [13:01]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Menuet for guitar [3:16]
Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762)
Menuet Affectuoso, for guitar* [6:10]
Taro Takeuchi (Baroque guitar*, English guitar)
Judy Tarling (Baroque violin)
Terence Charlston (harpsichord)
ec. Holy Trinity Church, Weston, Southampton, England, 18-20 July 2010. DDD
DEUX-ELLES DXL 1146 [71:00]

This is Japanese Baroque specialist Taro Takeuchi's second solo CD for the British independent Deux-Elles, and unfortunately a long time coming. Only those with long memories will recall Folias (DXL 1050), as it came out a full decade ago! However, fans of the Baroque guitar are rewarded for their patience by this beguiling new release, in which Takeuchi, with some valuable assistance in places from Judy Tarling and Terence Charlston, offers up some rarities from the 18th century in an outstanding programme.
The composers are linked by the fact that they were all active in England in the eighteenth century. Guitar music had yet to really catch on in the public imagination, but some composers had already realised its potential for accessibility and intimate expression, not least Johann Christian Bach, whose only work work for guitar, gentle and genial, must surely have inspired many younger composers and players. However, the bulk of Takeuchi's recital is made up of the relatively unknown Rudolf Straube's two works, but is none the worse for it - they are both mellifluously idiomatic and memorable.
Giacomo Merchi and his brother Joseph both did much to promote the guitar in eighteenth-century Europe; here Takeuchi - perhaps to remind listeners about his previous CD! - plays a seldom-heard but captivating take on the so-called 'La Folia' theme, which was made famous by Lully and Corelli and used by more than a hundred other composers, including Geminiani, whose strikingly modern-sounding Menuet Affectuoso gives the CD its title and brings Takeuchi's marvellous recital to an end.
Takeuchi's period instruments are two mid-18th century English guitars (or 'guittars') made by Thomas Perry and John Preston, and a French-made double-stringed Spanish Baroque guitar from the same period used for the Merchi and Geminiani pieces. Tarling's violin and Charlston's harpsichord are exactly contemporaneous with these for total authenticity. The tones of Takeuchi's instruments are delicately atmospheric and original, the metal strings of the English guitars in particular imbuing his programme with a unique charge. Takeuchi's innately musical prowess and poise are finished with an endearing modesty that leaves the listener both deeply satisfied and wanting more.
Sound quality is very good, although it may be said that the balance is not quite right for the Bach Sonata or Straube's Sonata I: the violin and harpsichord respectively are too prominent, making the piece sound more like a violin/harpsichord sonata with guitar accompaniment than vice versa. Minor quiddities, however.
The booklet takes a genial retro approach to presentation - all the writing in bold, for one (odd) thing - but is informative and well written, the notes shared between Takeuchi and Peter Holman. There is also a fine colour photo of the three guitars Takeuchi uses for these recordings.
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Musical poise and endearing modesty leave the listener both deeply satisfied and wanting more.