Russell's Magical Guitar


David Russell's new CD is so beautiful. It's not just the music, all written For David, which strikes a chord. It's the beauty of Russell's tone, and the quiet surety of his touch. Upon discovering that the master guitarist was performing near me, I phoned him to learn more about the music his instrument sings so eloquently.

"It was difficult to choose among the many compositions that have been written for me over the years," David explained in a thick Scottish brogue. "In the end, I chose pieces that I've kept in program and played in concert. This year, I've programmed Steve Goss's piece. Last year, I played Ben Verdery and Phil Rosheger's. Sergio Assad's music I played six or seven years ago. I've enjoyed playing them all."

The music has an astounding range of expression. Assad's flowing "Aquarelle" begins with astounding bursts of colorful virtuosity. After Francis Kleynjans' virtuosic tribute to guitarist Francisco Tárrega comes Goss' three movement "El Llanto de los Sueños" ("The Weeping of Dreams"), inspired by the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. The first begins dreamily, but soon cedes to music more energetically and emotionally charged. The charge continues in Verdery's "Now and Ever," an impassioned statement against slavery. Of the trio of pieces by Rosheger that conclude the CD, "Lullaby To Wake Up With" is so sweet that I wish I had dreamed it myself.

But how does Russell get it to sound so good? Part of the credit goes to his longtime Telarc engineer Tom Knab, who achieves an ideal balance between direct sound and natural reverberation. Add in Russell's special magic -- "My guitar has a very warm sound that I work at making as if it has a big acoustic" -- and you too may make For David your own.

in this playlist.