David Russell began his recording relationship with Telarc in 1995, in a highly praised release of the music of Paraguayan composer Augustin Barrios Mangore. He moved on to music by Moreno Torroba, concertos of Rodrigo, a recording of Celtic songs and dances, and an all-Giuliani disc. This will be Russell's sixth Telarc recording, in which he performs his own transcriptions of scores by Vivaldi, Handel, Scarlatti, and Loeillet.
The disc opens with a lively performance of the Suite No. 1 in G minor by Jean-Baptiste Loeillet (1680-1730). Loeillet was born in Ghent into a very musical family, and his works were often confused with those of his cousin by the same name (1688-ca. 1720). After spending some time in France, he settled in London (where he adopted the name John in an attempt to distinguish himself from his cousin), and became established as a skilled performer on the harpsichord, flute, and oboe. His Suite in G minor, originally written for harpsichord, contains the four dance movements common in German suites: Allemande, Corente, Sarabanda, and Giga; plus two additional movements (Aria and Minuet) inserted before the finale.
Vivaldi's Sonata in B-flat major (R. 46) was originally written for cello, and was published in Paris in 1740, only one year before his death. It takes the form of a "church sonata," with four movements: slow-fast-slow-fast (Largo, Allegro, Largo II, Allegro II).
The compositions in Handel's Opus 1 are difficult to date with accuracy. First published in 1722 as a set of twelve solo sonatas for flute, oboe and violin, the collection was revised by later publishers and eventually became a set of fifteen pieces. The Sonata in A minor was orginally written for flute with harpsichord continuo. It, too, follows the form of the "church sonata," with its four contrasting movements, but the fast movements are more similar in style to the stylized dance forms of the "chamber sonata."
David Russell closes this recording with nine Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, son of the illustrious Italian opera composer Alessandro Scarlatti. Domenico was in the employ of the Princess Maria Barbara of Portugal when she married the heir to the Spanish throne in 1729. He accompanied her to Madrid, where he helped found the Spanish school of instrumental composition. His works there were almost all instrumental compositions, including some 600 sonatas for harpsichord (called "Exercises" when first published), composed for his Princess.
Born in Glasgow in 1953, Russell moved to the Spanish Island of Menorca. There he studied guitar with his father, an accomplished guitarist. At age sixteen, he moved to London where he studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Winner of numerous awards and competitions, he twice won the Julian Bream prize, as well as the Andres Segovia Competition and the Francisco Tarrega Competition. In recognition of his great talent, the Royal Academy of Music named him a Fellow in 1997.
For this recording, Russell plays a 2000 Matthias Dammann guitar with D'Addario strings.