Related Reviews
Spanish Society Quarterly Review
"Beautiful"
more >>
Lute News
"...this is the most attractive recording of Murcia's music to have come my way for a long time."
more >>
ABC Spain
5 Stars
Another outstanding review for La Guitarra Española
more >>
SA-CD.net
5 Stars
Very highly recommended.
more >>
Goldberg
4 Stars
Great review from the Spanish publication (Spanish)
more >>
AllMusic.com
...nothing less than perfect...
more >>
Hi-Fi & Musik
5 Stars
"Vårdat och kärleksfullt ger han musiken guldkant."
more >>
Gramophone
Gramophone Editor's Choice
more >>
OpusHD.net (French)
5 Stars
Highest commendations from the French website
more >>
The Herald
3 Stars
Baroque music for a summer afternoon, with an intimacy that draws you in.
more >>
MusicWeb-International
Recording of the Month!
more >>
BBCi
This is real summer listening, conjuring up warmer climes than here...
more >>
Atlanta Audio Society
These performances all sound so vital, they successfully avoid the common pall of lifeless "authenticity."
more >>
Early Music Review
His music ranges from simple dance tunes to complex variations requiring considerable dexterity.
more >>
Classic FM Magazine
A good review for the acclaimed album
more >>
Financial Times
...subtlety and beauty in such perfect proportion.
more >>
The Times
4 Stars
It's a wonderful recital, glistening with jewels from the 18th-century...
more >>
Audiophile Audition
4 Stars
...full of passion and surpassing beauty...
more >>
MusicalPointers.co.uk
Recommended.
more >>
High Fidelity Poland
4½ Stars
Excellent review from the Polish audiophile publication
more >>
The Scotsman
4 Stars
This whole disc is an effusion of passion, flavoured with Mediterranean sunshine.
more >>

Santiago de Murcia - William Carter - International Record Review


01 June 2007
International Record Review
Robert Levett

‘The real giant of the Spanish guitar, however, was Santiago de Murcia', claims William Carter in his highly informative and engagingly written booklet notes accompanying this release. However, I'm being a little disingenuous by quoting him out of context - he's actually comparing Murcia (1682 -1732) with the composer's two illustrious predecessors and fellow Spaniards: Francisco Guerau (one of Murcia's teachers), whose beautiful but somewhat archaic style owes more to the music of Renaissance vihuelists than to anything else, and Gaspar Sanz, whom Carter describes as ‘more of an inspired collector of folk music than a composer'.  Anyway, before I become more of an inspired collector of booklet quotations than a reviewer, let's get on with it. This second solo outing by Carter is every bit as good as his first, which featured the music of the Italian Baroque guitarist/composer Francesco Corbetta (reviewed in December 2004).

Did I say ‘solo'? Well, it's almost. Susanne Heinrich lends support to her fellow Palladian Ensemble member by plucking a discreet accompaniment on the bass viol from time to time. This gives depth and body to the five-course Baroque guitar's delicate textures while focusing the ears so much more completely on those same textures when the accompaniment drops away, as in the second Canarios on the disc. It's very effective in Murcia's transcription of Corelli's Preludio and Giga from one of the latter composer's Op. 5 Violin Sonatas, but no less so as a reference point for Carter's own Canarios or as a plucked drone in the hypnotic Cumbees.

So far I've said nothing about Carter's playing: I've been saving the best for last. There were three distinct methods of playing the Baroque guitar - to use the Spanish terminology, by rasgueado (strumming), punteado (plucking) or by a combination of the two, the so-called mixed style which all the most sophisticated guitar music of the Baroque exhibited, including, of course, Murcia's. Carter's peculiar genius, no doubt borne of long experience playing continuo with such bands as the Academy of Ancient Music and The English Concert, as well as chamber music with the Palladians, is to reveal the mixed style as a real ‘universe in a grain of sand'. His mastery of dynamic shading and tonal variation is almost orchestral in outlook, and yet how modest the means! This is perhaps best appreciated in the three Passacalles on the disc, which Carter imbues with a Bach chaconne-like intensity, despite the modest premise of each; but it's also obvious in the rather melancholy Marionas and the gentle concluding Gaitas. Whether the courses are slapped and strummed or lightly brushed; whether they laugh with peals of jangling campanelas or cry with subtly attenuated appoggiaturas, they always seem to be obeying some kind of overarching emotional logic. Another kind of mixed style, if you like, where both the rational and the irrational exist side by side.

Lovers of the Baroque guitar will know just what I'm talking about, and will want to rush out to obtain this disc without delay.


Bookmark and Share


Related Links

William CarterWilliam Carter
La Guitarra Española - The Music of Santiago de MurciaLa Guitarra Española - The Music of Santiago de Murcia