CD review: Fantasias by Rupert Boyd

Fantasias. Rupert Boyd, guitar. Little Mystery Records. 4 stars

Guitarist Rupert Boyd was born and raised in Canberra and completed a Bachelor of Music at the ANU School of Music before moving to the US to do postgraduate work. He is now based in New York City, but this generously filled (well over 70 minutes) and very impressive CD was recorded last year in a church outside London. The sound is clear and natural and very appealing.

Boyd's repertoire ranges widely in time and atmosphere: from the melodic charm of the famous Skye Boat Song to the melancholy Niel Gow's Lament both among a selection of traditional Celtic songs arranged by David Russell) to the various shifts in mood of the eight-and-a-half-minute Legnani Fantasia in A Minor.

From British composer John Dowland's 1610 Fantasie to the next tracks, Tres Apuntes (Three Sketches) from 1959 by contemporary Cuban composer Leo Brouwer is a leap of more than three centuries but Boyd handles this and other shifts in style and period with aplomb. Of Australian composer Phillip Houghton's two included works, God of the Northern Forest and Kinkachoo, I Love You, I preferred the latter, a gentler piece with an instant appeal, but both were certainly well-played.

Also attractive were Byron Yasui's Fantasy on a Hawaiian Lullabye and the works by better-known composers such as Piazzolla, de Falla and Villa-Lobos – in fact, this whole disc is a high-quality achievement by one of Canberra's impressive talents.