Santiago de Murcia - William Carter - Gramophone

Santiago de Murcia (1682 - 1732) was the last, and possibly greatest, Spanish exponent of the five-course Baroque guitar, his music achieving a perfect balance between strummed and plucked styles that were prevalent at the time. As if to reinforce this point, William Carter opens his recital with a superb account of Murcia's Folias españolas, which starts with some highly percussive strumming before slowly giving away to delicately plucked lines.

Such nuanced playing is just as effective in the Passacalles, each of which gradually builds in excitement, as it is in the funereal "Del Rey Francia" (in the Suite after Gaspar Sanz), the melancholy Marionas or the lullaby-like Gaitas. Throughout, Carter somehow conjures up the sights and sounds of a bygone age with the mastery of a real dramatist, counterbalancing flurries of overlapping scales, energetic strumming and virtuoso trills with the richness and warmth of the more reflective passages.

Not to be too pedantic about flying solo, Carter is joined by fellow Palladian Ensemble member Susanne Heinrich on bass viol. Her pizzicato accompaniments bring a pleasing depth to dances like the Zarembeques and the Cumbees, but are especially effective in Murcia's transcription of the prelude and gigue from Corelli's Violin Sonata, Op 5 No 3, to which she restores the original bass-lines. The effect is like hearing the last two movements of some ghostly guitar concerto.

This is more than just a worthy follow-up to Carter's first solo disc "La guitarre royalle" (12/04) - quite simply, it contains some of the finest Baroque guitar playing you'll ever hear.

01 July 2007