At a little over 61 minutes you can see that miniatures these pieces certainly are. Richards divides the CD into four main sections: the first being ‘Spanish Romance’ which includes the first ten tracks. All these pieces are reasonably well-known with the possible exception of Torroba’s Tonada. Actually I thought there was a little too much reliance on a staccato delivery when the music needed precisely the opposite; for example in Romance de Los Pinos, when what Torroba surely wanted was a seamlessly legato sequence of chords. Parts of the Granados and the Abeniz suffered in the same way, and I began to despair of a real legato touch to Richards’ playing. Section Two: ‘From Russia with Love’ takes in the Scriabin to the Larichev, and does include some relative rarities here. The Scriabin played in Segovia’s arrangement again suffers form a bad attack of the staccato virus, when a pianist would never play it that way, but maybe that is the fault of the arranger in trying to put something on the guitar that fits ok but is very hard to play in the manner it should be.
Section Three is perhaps the most fascinating as it covers the ‘Beautiful British Brevities’ as evidenced by the gorgeous Shand pairing; the delightful Ellis work and the rare Usher Impromptu. For the final eight tracks we are in arrangment land that is ‘The Music of the Masters’ Here Dyer, Llobet, Merz, Criswick, Tarrega and Segovia have a go at trying to make some very well known pieces work on the guitar, a feat that only partially works for me but then I find it hard to understand why players want to have a go at Chopin, Schumann or Schubert on the solo guitar.
This is a very well filed CD. It would be churlish of me to be too negative about the selection itself, as the whole presentation has been very carefully considered. I didn’t take to Richards’ disjointed way with certain parts, and the heavy-handed approach to staccato on some tracks, but nevertheless there is a certain enjoyment to be had from the relative rarity of a handful of the items and this might be enough for you to consider purchasing this CD.