La Guitarre Royalle - Gramophone

What most strikes you about this solo début from the Palladian Ensemble's William Carter is the sheer force of his musical imagination, evinced by a generous tonal palette that brings out not only the spicy, distinctive qualities of Francesco Corbetta's music but also the intimate physicality of playing a Baroque guitar - even more so than Jacob Lindberg's fine playing does on his series of BIS recordings. Fingertip, nail-back and thumb-flesh coax and goad the strings into cascades of campanile and rasgueado effects as well as polyphonic passages of exquisite delicacy.

And although built around the 'conceit', as Carter puts it, of Corbetta's lulling his erstwhile student Louis XIV to sleep, this recital is anything but soporific or formless: order is imposed on the groups of miniatures and suites of dances by moving them gracefully through logical key centres, the first group of pieces and the last suite embracing the whole recital in a restful 'Amen' cadence; recurring variation forms like the chaconne and passacaille add further coherence to the overall design.

This is a wonderful disc, impeccably recorded, and sure to become a most agreeable bedtime companion for many. Listen out for Carter's own prelude to the La Folia variations - it's a real flamenco-inspired tour de force.

06 December 2004