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CD Review: Guitarist Karadaglić trumpets his Ravinia concerts with desert-isle Rodrigo disc

Submitted by on Jul 10, 2014 – 12:35 am

Miloš Karadaglić' will play Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 11, plus a solo recital July 15. (Margaret Malandruccolo/Deutsche Grammophon)Review: Rodrigo — “Concierto de Aranjuez” and “Fantasía para un gentilhombre.” Miloš Karadaglić, guitar; London Philharmonic conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. (Deutsche Grammophon) ★★★★★

By Lawrence B. Johnson

When I chatted with the young Montenegrin classical guitar virtuoso Miloš Karadaglić last November, about an impending solo appearance at City Winery, he made a brief digression to a major project then in progress – a recordng with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the London Philharmonic Orchestra that would pair Joaquín Rodrigo’s popular “Concierto de Aranjuez” and “Fantasía para un gentilhombre.” Karadaglić described it as the biggest event of his artistic life. 

Album cover of Miloš Karadaglić's CD pairing Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' and 'Fantasía para un gentilhombre' conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. (Deutsche Grammophon)The CD has just been released, and it is a multifaceted beauty: eloquent, warmly spirited performances of both concertos plus three solo turns that alone might justify the price of the disc. What’s more, the new CD hits just as the 31-year-old guitarist returns to Chicagoland to play – what else? – the Concierto de Aranjuez with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Robert Moody on July 11 at the Ravina Festival.

It’s hard to know what to admire most about Karadaglić’s masterly “Aranjuez.” More than technically effortless, his playing reflects a profound poetic rapport with Rodrigo’s flamenco-inspired music. By turns singing, incisive, sensual and brilliant, this is a recording I could imagine living with in desert-island bliss. Nézet-Séguin’s all-in engagement with music and soloist is also evident in the London Philharmonic’s vivacious support.

And that is to say nothing of the wonderfully infectious, if perhaps less familiar, “Fantasía,” which Rodrigo composed in 1954 – some 15 years after “Aranjuez” – for Andrés Segovia. Based on dances by the 17th-century Spaniard Gaspar Sanz, the “Fantasía” is a sun-lit frolic, and Karadaglić invests its charm with a distinctive regard for the graceful dances at the root of each of the four movements.

A video promoting the new CD (at right) offers some tantalizing glimpses of Karadaglić in the recording session with Nézet-Séguin and the London Philharmonic. For serious classical guitar aficionados, Deutsche Grammophon well might have preserved the entire recording on DVD. Even in these brief moments on camera, Karadaglić’s effortless playing suggests a legitimate successor in the line of Segovia, Julian Bream and John Williams.

Separating the two concertos in the CD layout are three solo works that simply remove any question of Karadaglić’s place at the forefront of today’s most important guitarists: a visceral, indeed electrifying account of the “Miller’s Dance” from Manuel De Falla’s ballet “The Three-Cornered Hat,” together with a solemn, probing take on Falla’s “Homenaje: Le tombeau de Claude Debussy” and a gorgeously hued performance of Rodrigo’s “Invocación y danza: Homenaje a Manuel de Falla.”

Karadaglić will play all three of those works – along with music of Bach, Sor and Granados — in a solo program at Ravinia’s Martin Theatre on July 15.

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