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La Guitarre Royalle - BBC Music

07 March 2005
BBC Music
Robert Maycock

The roving Italian guitarist Francesco Corbetta charmed and conned his way around half the courts of 17th-century Europe. This superstar of the Baroque instrument also pioneered the suite range and lyrical appeal to command attention at full-disc length - a good choice for a first solo recording by the well-known London period-ensemble player William Carter.

The gentle tune that opens the CD forms the basis of a ten-minute chaconne, full of resource in texture and technique and spiced with Scarlatti-style strumming. It turns out to be Carter's own conflation from several chaconnes, though since Corbetta himself happily recycled variations between them there's nothing wrong with that. Most of the other pieces, whether in suites or stand-alones, are around two minutes long. Their virtuosity is implicit rather than flamboyant, the moods tending to be relaxed in major keys and intense though mostly quiet in the minor.

Carter sounds on top of their demands. He indulges himself by inventing a lively Spanish-style prelude to one of the dances, but generally his laid-back style is at one with the idiom, beautifully recorded.

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