Madrid - 06/22/2021

Last Saturday, June 19, a concert by David Russell took place at the Auditorio Nacional. Programmed within the

third edition of the International Guitar Festival of Madrid, the event drew a large audience of guitar and music lovers and curious about the instrument. As the musician himself commented, It wasn’t the first time he played in this hall, but it was a very special occasion, as it meant the return to the concert activity after the pandemic.

With a delicate manner and clear voice, Russell set a calm rhythm that served the purpose, so that the concert proceeded smoothly and you could enjoy the music. In this way, the evening ended up being unforgettable and as the hours passed, many of those present will be remembering that afternoon as if it were a gift.

The program started with the Suite of J. de Saint-Luc from the beginning of the Baroque, continued by Sonatas 308 and 309 by Scarlatti and the Chorales BWV 645 and 147 by Bach, all transcribed by Russell himself for guitar. According to his explanation, in this way it pays attention to the essence of the work and the new instrument for which it is rewritten. In fact, in the Chorales the original piece was clearly perceived, but at the same time, the ductility of the guitar and its ability to become an orchestra and soloist. Given the difficulty of the version, the audience felt the effort of the musician, the agility of his fingers and how he somersaulted to turn technical difficulty into music and expression.

The intention of this first block was to maintain a chronological line in which the evolution of the sound was perceived over time and it was assumed that the second would follow that same line, but it was not.

It began with Regondi's Air Varie, a work written for guitar whose shape, theme and variations follow the classical taste for a balanced virtuosity, of measured brilliance. Russell made a precise interpretation that clearly showed his style: elegant, balanced, subtle and very beautiful. 

Thus, the last work arrived, which, although it is of recent creation and it followed the expected timeline, it was actually a "sonorous" return to the Renaissance of the first part of the programme. The Cantigas de Santiago, by Stephen Goss, are dedicated to Russell and his wife, and their inclusion in the programme paid tribute to the Santiago Holy Year 2021. A group of seven pieces, all of them based on melodies from the medieval Songbooks,

Martín Códax and Codex Calixtinus and contain different emotions such as joy and sadness. It is a work of immense beauty, full of subtleties and memories of Galician folklore that the guitarist knew how to make his own and transmit with a profound intensity.

It was not easy to let go of David Russell. Not even the two encores that he gave were enough to silence the applause, which eventually gave way to a lasting memory of an unforgettable concert.

Esther Martín






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