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GRAMOPHONE (07/2022)
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Linn Records

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Reviewer :
William Yeoman

I’m not sure how much William Carter knows about necromancy or quantum physics. But the search for meaning through communicating with the dead, the manipulation of the subtlest matter … well, it’s all here, and more, in Carter’s first solo outing for some years.

Esaias Reusner (1636-79) isn’t exactly a household name. But he should be better known. Because, as Carter points out, the German lutenist and composer’s Delitiae testudinis (1667) ‘contains several milestones’, not least the first known publication of the Baroque dance suite. Carter has selected three complete suites from Delitiae testudinis and a handful of other pieces including the wonderful Chaconne, ou Cascades de Mr de Launay (I’m a sucker for a good chaconne or passacaglia).

William Waters and Paul Beier have devoted recordings to Reusner’s music, on Brilliant and Stradivarius respectively. There have also been bits and bobs from Walter Gerwig back in the 1950s (very good it is, too – Archiv, 7/58) and Julian Bream in the 1960s through to more recent offerings from Stephen Stubbs and Jakob Lindberg (who plays an actual Sixtus Rauwolf – BIS, 1/18; Carter plays a copy, but an excellent one). What sets Carter apart are those qualities I somewhat facetiously alluded to at the start, and which have always been hallmarks of Carter’s playing: specifically, a willingness to evoke the past through the subtlest, most sensitive means.

In the gigues and courantes there is that underlying rhythmic urgency which manifests itself most obviously as a strumming in the Chaconne. This is honouring the dance origins of the music. The preludes, allemandes, sarabandes and more unusual paduanas, on the other hand, become under Carter’s fingers laboratories for reverie and reflection. This is honouring the ‘pervasive melancholy’ (Carter) of Reusner’s music.

Sensitive, stylish, intelligent playing. Artistry that doesn’t draw attention to itself. It’s good to have you back, Bill.

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