Saturday, 22 March 2014

A new release from Deutsche Grammophon/Mercury Classics featuring guitarist Miloš Karadaglić with the LPO under Yannick Nézet-Séguin in works by Rodrigo and de Falla is an absolute joy

The guitarist Miloš Karadaglić was born in Montenegro in 1983 and first started playing the guitar at the age of eight. At the age of seventeen he moved to London to take up a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music. He continues to live in London where he is a passionate supporter of music education, acting as a Patron of the Mayor of London Fund for Young Musicians and the charity Awards for Young Musicians.  He uses D'Addario J 46 strings and plays a 2007 Greg Smallman guitar, kindly lent to him by Paul and Jenny Gillham.

Miloš came to international attention in 2011 with his debut album The Guitar (Mediterráneo) which, in the space of just a few months, topped classical charts around the world, became an internationally bestselling sensation and earned Miloš Gramophone’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award.

2012/13 was the breakthrough year on the concert stage for Miloš with sold-out debut performances and tours around the world. The 2013 - 2014 season will take Miloš throughout Europe, America and the Middle East, in recitals and concerto performances, as well as appearances at prestigious festivals such as Cheltenham (UK), Ravinia (USA), Gstaad (Switzerland), Rheingau and Mecklenberg Vorpommern (Germany).

As an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, Miloš Karadaglić released his second album Latino (Pasión) in 2012 and went on to receive both Classic Brit (UK) and Echo Klassik (Germany) awards.

Latino proved so successful that it was subsequently re-released as Latino GOLD featuring 30 minutes of newly recorded tracks from a wealth of Latin American inspired music. Meanwhile Miloš: Heartstrings, a documentary filmed throughout 2012 and which charts the guitarist’s story to date, has been released on DVD and aired on numerous TV stations.

His new Deutsche Grammophon/Mercury Classics release, Aranjuez, has just been released and features Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez and Fantasia para un Gentilhombre with Yannick Nézet-Séguin  and the London Philharmonic Orchestra

0289 481 0652 3 CD DDD GH
0289 481 0921 0 Blu-Ray Audio GH

There is a fine, strong opening from Miloš in the Allegro con spirito of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, full of Mediterranean warmth. The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin gives beautifully idiomatic support. Miloš provides a lovely tone, much delicacy and a wide range of timbres and colours. The way he moves rapidly between relaxed and sultry to stronger vibrant playing is quite wonderful. There is a lovely depth to the orchestral playing, with some beautifully played woodwind phrases and a sunlit transparency of sound, helped enormously by Deutsche Grammophon’s excellent recording from Abbey Road Studios, London.

There is a captivating directness to the opening of the Adagio. The balance of guitar and orchestra is splendidly done, though Rodrigo’s masterly writing for these forces overcomes many of the inherent problems of setting an acoustic instrument within an orchestra. Miloš has a fine feel for the subtle little nuances, conjuring deep resonances, beautiful vibrato, so many colours and textures from his instrument. He gives a brilliantly paced cadenza that has some superb little details, exquisitely done. Towards the coda Miloš delivers a really natural emotion, never overdone. The quiet, ascending chords over a hushed orchestra that end the adagio are exquisite.

There is an elegance to Miloš’ playing in the Allegro gentile with nicely pointed up orchestral details from the LPO, as well as a lightness of touch from both orchestra and soloist in this movement. These artists seem to subtly build a momentum right up to Rodrigo’s beautiful little ending.

For all the popularity and over exposure of this concerto, this remains a terrific work. Of course, Rodrigo’s close friend Pepe Romero on Philips will always be an essential choice for me but this new recoding goes right up there with the best.

Moving to Manuel de Falla, Miloš provides some lovely rich strong chords in the often dark Homenaje pour le Tombeau de Claude Debussy. His beautiful vibrato just sings – quite superb. This is captivating playing. A flamboyant strummed opening sets the scene for de Falla’s Danza del Molinero (El Sombrero de Tres Picos) with powerful playing of the flamenco rhythms, bringing this music vividly to life.

Miloš plays the strange, haunting opening of Rodrigo’s Invocación y danza perfectly, before the rhythmic theme appears. Rodrigo’s dissonances are so appealing with Miloš bringing out every line and all the subtle rhythm and colours of this intoxicating piece. The central dancing section is a lovely yet thoughtful contrast with many fine details. As the music becomes faster, Miloš’ remarkable technique is shown to the full before a beautifully realised hushed coda.

Finely we have Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un gentilhombre with the winning theme of the opening Villano y Ricercare, probably the loveliest opening movement of any of Rodrigo’s guitar concertos. There is often chamber like contribution from Nézet-Séguin and the London Philharmonic and some really fine, thoughtful, beautifully nuanced playing from Miloš. The LPO are on glorious form when the big tune from the opening returns.

There is another exquisite melody in the second movement Españoleta y Fanfare de la Caballería de Nápoles, gently played by Miloš who has a winning way of presenting a theme so thoughtfully, yet directly, quite disarming. The LPO are on top form again with some particularly fine string playing. Miloš reveals so much in each little variation of this movement, bringing the music alive with so many nuances, colours and textures, creating so many little sound worlds in this, the longest movement.

The LPO under Nézet-Séguin adds so much to the final movement, Canario. Miloš is terrific in all the little detailed touches. The cadenza displays more superb playing before a coda full of panache.

This new disc is an absolute joy. The excellent recording has a nice depth and is finely balanced.

Miloš will be touring the UK this year appearing at Perth (31st May), Malvern (6th June), Bristol (11th June), Wigmore Hall, London (13th June) and High Bradfield (21st June). I certainly hope to be able to get to the Malvern concert.

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