DAVID RUSSELL - The Art of the Guitar
"Music for Compline" - Works of Tallis, Byrd, Sheppard and other English
HANDEL: Concerti Grossi, Op. 3. Sonata a 5.
Here are three superb additions to the SACD catalog, excellent performances beautifully recorded, and full value in playing time. Guitar virtuoso David Russell has more than a dozen CDs for Telarc, but this is his first SACD. The program includes a wide range of music, original works as well as transcriptions of music by Grieg and Debussy. Telarc has displays their usual sonic expertise, although surround sound surely isn't necessary for a solo guitar. The new British vocal ensemble Stile Antico, consisting of four altos, and three altos, tenors and basses, makes their debut recording on Harmonia Mundi with this issue of Music for Compline. Compline is the last of the daily monastic worship services of the Catholic church—night prayers. This recording features music by John Sheppard, William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Robert White and Hugh Ashton. Matthew O'Donovan's fine CD notes give detailed information about each work and circumstances for performances. These are exemplary performances by this group of young singers, recorded with clarity as well as a sense of space. Complete texts are provided in Latin, German, French and English.
Richard Egarr has made many acclaimed recordings of keyboard music as soloist and has a distinguished conducting career as well; he recently was appointed Music Director of the superb Academy of Ancient Music, and here we have all six of Handel's Concerti Grossi, Op. 3, with the composer's youthful (he was 22 when he composed it) Sonata a 5 as "a lively Italian dessert" (the way Eggar describes it). Egarr's discourse on the editions he used for Handel's music are intriguing as well as informative, and he obviously has a sense of humor. Wonderful sound from producer Robina G. Young, and a beautiful presentation from Harmonia Mundi.
R.E.B. (April 2007)