A memorable evening of quiet enjoyment

Guitar virtuoso David Russell crowned the Nürtingen International Guitar Festival with an exquisite concert.

NÜRTINGEN. David Russell has been one of the pillars of the guitar festival for over 20 years. The concerts of the Scottish born in 1953, who lives in Spain, are always the artistic highlight of the concert series, which is not exactly poor in musical highlights. As expected, it was no different on Thursday. As in previous years, the concert, which, due to the corona, did not take place in the Kreuzkirche but in the great hall of the town hall, was sold out. The approximately 200 listeners experienced an outstanding virtuoso of world class in top form.

There is something magical about listening to David Russell and watching him play. The likeable friendly musician, a fine, modest person too, plays the guitar with an almost casual-looking perfection, almost without moving a face. Just as if it wasn't anything special to be able to play like that. Technically in a class of its own, David Russell fascinates with a full, round, warm tone and timbres that are finely tuned to the respective characteristics of the piece. Under his nimble fingers, every sequence of notes becomes wonderful guitar music.

Sensitively presented musical gems

With David Russell, almost every type of classical guitar music is in the best of hands. But he has earned special merits as a specialist in baroque music. At the beginning of his program he started a series of dances entitled “La Priesee de Gaeta” by the lutenist and composer Jacques de Saint-Luc (1616-1710), whose works are comparatively seldom performed at guitar concerts. The eight pieces (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, Minuet, Passepied, Rigaudon and Caprice en Passacaille), which are typically baroque with numerous decorations, turned out to be extremely sensitive musical gems.

With the ancient music of Saint-Luc Russell led to the first highlight of the program: the "Cantigas de Santiago" by Stephen Goss. The composer, who lives in Wales, was inspired by medieval songs that were written along the Camino de Santiago, which runs through northern Spain. The resulting sequence of seven pieces was dedicated by the composer, born in 1964, to David Russell and his wife Maria. In his “Cantigas”, Goss has combined the strict formal language of the Middle Ages with modern sounds in a delightful way. The result is a multifaceted soundscape, as colorful as a meadow of flowers. Nice to hear.

Russell opened the second part of the concert with two compositions by the baroque master Johann Sebastian Bach, which he dedicated to the doctors and nurses who, as he said, have made a valuable contribution to getting us through the corona pandemic. The preludes to the chorales “Wake up, call us the voice” (BWV 645) and “Jesus, Joy of Man’s desiring” (BWV 147), both transcribed for the guitar by Russell. The artist left it open as to whether he wanted to understand “Wake up, the voice calls us” as a subtle appeal to all people who do not yet take Corona seriously. At least during the performance of Russell's devotedly played baroque music, the pandemic was far away.

The works of the composer and guitar virtuoso Giulio Regondi (1823 to 1872) have always had a place in David Russell's repertoire. On Thursday he played his “Air varié”, op. 21, a lively sequence of technically demanding guitar variations that are wonderfully easy to listen to.

David Russell brought his exquisite concert to a close with two compositions from the pen of the Paraguayan composer and guitar virtuoso Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885 to 1944). The artist interpreted the Latin American lighthearted pieces "Caazapá" and "Sueño en la floresta" with enthusiasm and great joy in the performance.

Rousing applause was thanks to the marvellous performances that the great virtuoso presented to his audience that evening. David Russell was happy to add three unnamed encores. A memorable evening of quiet enjoyment in these troubled times.

Volker Haussmann

Nürtingen Zeitung



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