DAVID RUSSELL: MASTERY AND GRACE
DAVID RUSSELL, PRODIGIOUS GENIALITY
Classical Guitar Virtuoso David Russell
"Until I heard David Russell, I never realized how beautiful a guitar could sound, how technically flawless a guitarist could be," said Professor Joel Brown during his introductory speech. His point was well taken: the audience of Russell's performance on March 30 shared a valuable privilege in seeing the guitar virtuoso.
Intent on impressing the importance of the occasion upon the audience, Brown held up a manila folder and began explaining the significance of its contents. "This is Jimmy Page's autograph," said Brown, receiving a murmur from the audience.
"This is a signed letter written by George Harrison…it's only a photocopy, though," he smiled. "And this is David Russell's autograph, which I got at a guitarist conference in 1988."
St. Louis Classical Guitar Society season ends with memorable recital
The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society ended its 2011-12 season with a recital by one of the musical world’s undisputed greats. The Glasgow-born (and accented), Minorca-raised guitarist David Russell’s performance at the Ethical Society on Saturday night provided a fitting end to a memorably successful season.
Russell has won numerous prizes and awards — the Julian Bream Guitar Prize (twice) and the Segovia, among many others — and he is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. He won a Grammy in 2004, further testimony to his uncompromising standards.
Still, it may be that the thing he’s won the most effortlessly is the collective heart of his audience, with his flawless technique, inborn musicianship and easy manner. Most of what he played on Saturday night was of a such a quality that it could have been recorded and released with minimal editing.
The audience was so captivated that, even in a decidedly overwarm auditorium, Russell’s early offer to have the (noisy) air conditioning system turned on was declined: better to sweat a little than to have a single note obscured…
…The concert’s official finale was a selection of Celtic music in varying moods, starting with a jig and underlining Russell’s versatility….
ST. Louis Post-Dispatch
by Sarah Bryan Miller
"Perhaps I wasn't alone in the audience to have heard Rodrigo's beloved "Concierto de Aranjuez" many times... With master guitarist David Russell as the soloist, the pleasure of rediscovery was acute. His luminous sound; the elegant simplicity and speaking quality of his playing; the grace of his ornamentation; his precise and supple rhythmic sense, all these made for wonderful listening."
Susan Isaacs, The Ann Arbor News.
... It is always a pleasure to hear him.
We are talking about David Russell, one of the great guitarists of the world. A charismatic artist, who has the power to captivate an auditorium as soon as he comes on stage, not only for what people expect from his guitar,but also for his friendliness, his youthful easy manner and his touch of genius. Still, the key is in the intimate musicality with which he plays, always accompanied by a shocking facility to understand his instrument.
This explains that his performances are an awaited event and receive rave reviews from the critics. So it is not a surprise to witness the sellout house on Thursday at the Teatro Cómico, in what was possibly in the end the best recital of the Scottish guitarist in Córdoba. He was incommensurate.
Juan Miguel Moreno, Córdoba
With his performance, full of charisma and warmth, Russell gave the audience a moment of rare magic. Tangible, like the love that this popular guitarist has for his music, an unconditional love which nourishes him and the halls of the whole world.
For quality and quantity, this performance could have easily been considered two different concerts in one. David Russell gave his full energy until the last minute...
At the end of the evening, after having touched heaven with the notes struck by the popular guitarist, everyone slowly returned with their feet to the earth. And with a new wish in mind: the hope of having this legend of the guitar return soon to perform in our part of the world.
Angela Montinari, BARI
Last Thursday the Gran Teatro held the concert of David Russell, on this occasion with the orchestra of Córdoba. It is a luxury for the festival of Córdoba to have the presence of this mythical guitarist, and also the collaboration of our orchestra,which is doing extraordinary work in the field of concertos for guitar.
From the very first notes of the Vivaldi (Concerto in Mi minor Op. 4, N.2), concerto conceived originally for violin and who Russell himself transcribed for guitar, we could enjoy the beautiful sound of the Scottish guitarist, one of his signs of identity, quintessence of his refined technique.
In the second part we could hear the five movements of the Concerto Antico for guitar and small orchestra by Richard Harvey, a piece of renaissance and medieval resonances, viewed from an eclectic approach, close to film music. The interpretation was, like the music, direct and epidermic, Russell offering an extremely beautiful sound protected by an orchestra which accompanied him correctly and efficiently. Long ovation for the musicians. Russell came out on repeated occasions to the stage until he offered an encore of the lovely tremolo of Agustín Barrios, La Limosnita, which he interprets like noone else, and such was the impression of the audience, who gave him a standing ovation. A concert to remember.
Russell's guitar can be heard from far away, which is a strange peculiarity of the guitar, but it sounds close up, which is a singularity of the guitarist. There is a kind of confidential tone in this relationship between the musician and the audience.An intimate magic has enveloped this surprising concert by one of the top figures of the guitar nowadays.
Russell is an artist who arouses sympathy. His communicative charisma through which he projects emotions can be felt both by the expert guitarist or by the profane listener, by the adolescent (the age of the audience in this concert had rejuvenated considerably) or by the mature melomaniac.
His style, apart from adapting to the proper styles of the music in order to give accurate interpretations, possesses an utter exquisiteness, an extensive range of colours and sonorities, a noble melodic clarity and marvellous musicality.
He started his recital with a splendid romantic version of the Grand Overture by Giuliani, italian guitarist who lived in Vienna, admired by Schubert. In the Fantasies of the italian Renaissance by Francesco da Milano he gave priority to the counterpoint polyphony of the voices, the imitative transparency of the melodies, worked with independence and clarity.
The transcription of the Valses Poéticos, by Granados, surpasses the original. His version had a refined romantic lyricism, with careful effects. Impeccable versions of the lutenist from the Renaissance John Dowland, full of emotion and melancholy. Strength and poetry in the versions of Albéniz. Popular idealism in the Venezuelan pieces, little masterpieces. And finally, a nice token: the interpretation, as an encore, of the Intermezzo in E Major, by Enrique Truan.
Excellent gesture to culminate an exceptional concert.
(Ramón Avello) - EL COMERCIO DIGITAL - GIJÓN (SPAIN)
My experience in churches is that God gets most of the notes. If you are sitting more than half way back, the sound goes straight up to heaven. On this occasion I was lucky to have a front seat, and I got all the notes in all their polished magnificence. For once I forgot that ecclesiastical benches in Italy can feel exceptionally hard.
It was an 18th century church, and free of those excesses of Baroque decoration that make you wonder how such a style could survive in an age of great musical strength. Jacques de Saint-Luc was no Bach, Handel or Scarlatti, but he could achieve a fine poetry in his treatment of the conventional Baroque suite. David Russell took one such into his repertoire some years ago, and it was good to hear it again. He has the knack of looking at a piece of music that is not regarded as an obvious masterpiece by the world in general, and of making it into a musical experience for his audience. Whether he is a supreme alchemist, or a skilled miner who finds gold in unexpected places, is perhaps open to argument. There was a timeless moment in the Sarabande when the perfection of the phrasing and the sound made you hold your breath in case you missed anything.
There is an interesting philosophical argument here. Can the musical content be divorced from the treatment of it? We generally agree that a great piece of music can receive a poor performance and still be recognizable as a great piece of music. Similarly, a poor piece of music remains poor, however well played. But when you have a sublime experience, as I did in the Sarabande of Saint-Luc's Baroque suite, must I say that it was entirely due to the skill of the player? Or was the pure gold there all along, and only waiting for a David Russell to come along and reveal its quality?
A similar moment occurred in the Passacaille of the same suite. Later, Regino Sainz de La Maza's Idilio was revealed to have so powerful a melodic line that it only needed some appropriate words to become a huge hit as a love song.
Much of the attractive programme was designed to appeal to a festival audience: Coste's Introduction and Polonaise, Bach's two most popular chorales. Sleepers wake and Jesu, Joy of man's desiring, seven of Grieg's Lyric Pieces, two pieces by Sergio Assad, Pujol's trilogy of Seguidilla, Tango and Guajira, with Malats and Barrios as encores.
The occasion was the culmination of a five day festival in one of Umbria's most attractive towns. It was part of the "Right Profit" movement in which David and Maria Russell are involved together with the Perugia guitarist Michele Corbu and his wife MariaRita. The artists are paid properly, but any profit goes towards sinking wells to relieve drought in Africa. Another well resulted from this festival, and the organizers and sponsors, who included the local council, have reasons to be pleased with their efforts, though of course much remains to be done. A similar Right Profit event earlier in the year was also successful. The movement could take off and make a significant improvement to conditions in Africa, where so much needs to be done, not in the name of charity, but in the name of common humanity.
Colin Cooper. Classical Guitar Magazine
The one year period between his concert here last year and the present one has been an intensive year for guitarist David Russell, Scottish born and established in Spain, reaching its highest point with a Grammy to the best instrumental soloist in classical music. In a world of non industrial music, this reward in unquestionable. and confirms that we are probably dealing with the most acclaimed classical guitarist at present. David Russell didn't need this prize to be more than consecrated in the elite of the instrument, dominating a very extensive interpretative range.
The reception David Russell receives in Córdoba is outstanding, selling out once more the tickets for a concert which finished with a standing ovation and three encores.
Luis Medina, ABC
In his manner of playing, everything was admirable: the magnificent light with which he confronted every interpretative detail, his extraordinary technique, evident with the iron solidity of his left hand on the fingerboard, the vast palette of sound with which he painted every sonorous detail, always looking for the maximum expression, the clarity of his legato at the service of melodic perfection, the fluidity and transparency of his counterpoint and his polyphony. In short, it was his interpretative generosity, the characteristic of a man used to giving what he has in an affectionate way, perfect and without reserve.
Juan de Dios García, EL DÍA
A completely full house at the Teatro Principal and an enthusiastic audience from the first moment were obvious circumstances of the expectation that the concert of David Russell had created, together with the very high interpretative quality of this prestigious classical guitar virtuoso, Adopted Son of Es Migjorn Gran, who shares with the world his Minorcan bond.
David Russell appeared in the concert as an authentic artist of the guitar, adding the depth of the compositions to his striking instrumental technique. He made the guitar express with sonorities of an extraordinary richness, coated with varied complexity, meridian exquisiteness and precision.
David Russell was the interpreter who caresses his versions, he transforms them in full of life and attractive, suggestive and really musical. He was a poet of the guitar, whose sensitivity impressed the audience from the beginning with Renaissance music until the encores of Spanish music, always in the line of expressive hight.
Guitarists may appear to lead lonely lives, but David Russell couldn't have felt forlorn when he played a recital Saturday at Ford Auditorium in the Allen Memorial Medical Library.Russell's fans were out in abundance to cheer the recent winner of a Grammy (just last month for his "Aire Latino: Latin Music for Guitar" recording from Beachwood-based Telarc).
Russell had no trouble capturing the ears of Saturday's audience with an eclectic program stamped with his poetic elegance.
Everything he played sounded captivating. Russell speaks musically in a songful, delicate voice that draws colors and nuances from the music that a listener might not have thought were there. He employs subtlety of tone and expressive contrast to bring a composer's thoughts to vivid life.
Russell is a quietly commanding performer both in musical and technical terms.
Russell didn't stint on Spanish sources. He brought out the earthy and charming qualities in four pieces by Regino Sainz de la Maza. The flamboyant dance gestures in three miniatures by Emilio Pujol exuded panache.
Donald Rosenberg. Plain Dealer Music Critic
I have heard in concert Andrés Segovia, Yepes... and all the best guitarists of the 20th century. None of those concerts were like the one David Russell offered in the Teatro Jovellanos for the Philharmonic Society. Russell, like good wines, gets better with the time, becomes stronger and more perfect. Before an enthusiastic audience, he offered a sublime recital.
Russell is the indisputable maestro of the classical guitar, the synthesis of Segovia's school with the best English school of Julian Bream, enriched with an exceptional sense of colour and musicality. He is friendly both in his manner and in his touch. With naturalness, almost simplicity, but with an absolute knowledge of the guitar, he displayed a wonderful programme.
A marvelous recital on the guitar of a charming performer, David Russell.
Ramón Avelló. El Comercio (Gijón)
This evening we had the great David Russell, who is considered by many experts to be the most complete and simply the best guitarist in the world.
... David Russell could be called the Glenn Gould of the guitar, for whom the baroque music seems to fit perfectly. D.Russell, like no one else, is capable of maintaining a continuous flow of the baroque works with an almost clock-like precision, showing at the same time the middle parts in the three or four voice structures with incredible technical ease. Thanks to his breathtaking technique he is able to project those details with great clarity to the last rows of the church.
In the presence of so much perfection, brilliance and clarity of the interpretation the audience in the totally overcrowded Obere Stadtkirche of Iserlohn was absolutely overwhelmed: Together the audience rose up from their seats - and applauded for minutes demanding up to four encores.
Ralf Thiemann, Westfalenpost
The opening concert of the guitar festival 2004 on Friday night in the the
sold out Kreuzkirche, once again did not leave behind any desire. Like in
the last festival two years ago it was the guitar virtuoso David Russell who
had the honour to set the tone to the many artistic highlights of the
A good choice of the organizing guitar circle in Nürtingen considering that
the Scottish artist, who is living in Spain, belongs to the world elite of
the classical guitarists and has already been for many years one of the
important exponents of the festival.
Roaring applause was the artist¹s reward for his always perfect and
fascinating guitar playing.
Volker Haußmann - Nürtinger Zeitung
AS THE ENTRÉE: THE ART OF PLAYING THE GUITAR PAR EXCELLENCE
"Mr. Russell made his mastery evident without ever deviating from an approach that placed musical values above mere display.It was apparent to the audience throughout the recital that Mr. Russell possesses a talent of extraordinary dimension."
The New York Times
"He played each work with complete assurance as he gradually divulged a musical imagination that stretched far beyond the limitations of the six strings.
The Washington Post
If an algebraic equation were to establish the difference between a good interpreter and a magnificent performer, what happened last Friday at Russell's concert could be solved with a formula. The audience, suspended between astonishment and ovations for more than two hours in front of an infinite sonorous universe, composed of souls vibrating like multiple halos of light. And he, the Lord of the guitar, weaving from the stage, for the other four hundred gathered, a tribute to harmony and perfection.
Il Gazzettino di Treviso (Italy)
"Russell makes no compromises. His musical taste is impeccable; his rhythmic security allows him to create tension by purely musical means, always at the service of the composer's imagination... He also has a keen ear that prompts him to layer the sounds he draws from his instrument in a highly individual fashion. He successfully keeps at least three distinct sound qualities moving at the same time, convincing a casual listener that there must be several performers on the stage at the same time.. He astonished his listeners with the sheer virtuosity of his playing, the incredible fluency that has him moving his fingers about with an ease that is almost insulting."
The Ottawa Citizen
"It is hard to imagine anyone being able to produce a more beautiful tone on a guitar than Russell did.He is a major artist who can take his place with the best guitarists of our day."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Russell is perhaps the most gifted guitarist on the international scene. He is an artist of formidable technical accomplishment and wonderfully sophisticatedmusicianship. He drew forth spellbindingly evocative playing and a luscious singing tone.. He captured the seductive, infectious rhythms with a breathtaking amalgam of delicacy and sweep."
The Atlanta Constitution
"His rhythmic flexibility, fine phrasing and clean intonation added interest to everything on Russell `s programme."
"Russell commands practically all means of expression possible on the guitar but he handles it with an extraordinary discipline only at the service of the toneand interpretation. He belongs to the greatest in the art of guitar."
Bonner Rundsschau (Germany)
David Russell's extremely flexible and clear playing sounded so smooth and distinguished that he won over the audience instantly. He showed his ability and the audienceheld its breath.. .there existed no doubt whatsoever; here excelled a real master on the guitar."
Eindhovens Dagblad (Holland)
"David Russell's playing is of a standard we have come to expect of him - beautiful sound~ and faultless execution; he has a knack on making everything sound completely effortless. One of the most brilliant of the new generation of concert performers."
"His flawless technical ability and interpretation of the pieces communicated the richness of the music to the audience. One had the impression that he had full command of the guitarand of the music. His mastery of the instrument, combined with his incredible sense of style, allowed him to achieve shades of tremendous colours within the range of the guitar. The enthusiasm of the audience reflected their appreciation for Russell's extraordinary talents."
The Wooster Voice (Ohio)
"His Bach Chaconne was about the most moving and impressive performance I have ever heard on any instrument. By the end I felt I would rather hear Mr. Russell play this piece than very nearly any violinist. This was a recital to remember. I hope we hear Mr. Russell again and soon."
The Irish Times
"Haendel's Suite No.7 gave the guitarist the opportunity to show the full scope of his technical refinement, his colourful shading and his musical phrasing.Classical guitar music in a timeless interpretation."
General Anzeiger (Germany)
"A classical guitar recital is a unique experience in the hands of a player like Russell. He delighted the audience with his dazzling technique and superb musicianship.
Grand Rapids Press
"David Russell fulfilled all expectations of his deserved fame... an undoubted artistic mastery of the instrumentin combination with precise playing, virtuosity, elegance and faithful interpretations."
"I know of no other guitarist before the public today with his mastery of the instrument or his incredible sense of style."
The Ottawa Citizen
"There was a sound, clean technique at the service of sensitive stylistic taste ... Russell supplied ample justification for any extravagant soothsaying one might be moved to indulge in."
"...an excellent musician who communicated many emotions and styles. Russell often plucks afresh when many a guitaristwould slur two or more notes. What results is an articulation of very lovely and fresh consistency... Even more impressive than his care for details was his architectural sense..."
Palo Alto Times
"Marvellous phrasing. He achieved by dynamic contrasts almost inconceivable shades of colours within the quietest range of the instrument."
"Every melody has a sense of tune and a curve of exquisite beauty... and there were times when the sounds were so carefully modulatedthat one forgot that strings were being plucked and felt that a human voice was responsible for that flow of melody."
"Russell created a romantic spell with delightful playing, lyrical and sensitive without ever going over the top into lushness. A miraculous sense of balance is one of David Russell's greatest assets, and enables him to make a success of music that in less accomplished hands would be uneventful. No other player in my experience takes less time in convincing you that the guitar is an instrument worth spending a lifetime on."
CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE