A follow-up to Miloš Karadaglic’s best-selling debut recording of music from the Mediterranean region, this one is devoted to music of Latin America. Again the 29-year-old Montenegrin guitarist more than proves his worth. The first disc was no flash in the pan. Though I do not claim to be any kind of expert on the guitar, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the solo selections here. There is a great deal of variety among the 16 tracks and my only reservation concerns those four pieces that are accompanied by syrupy strings. The orchestra all too often reminded me of Mantovani, and the well-known Libertango
of Piazzolla suffers the most from this arrangement. Part of the problem stems from a seeming lack of the ability to swing in this music. I put on my favorite Piazzolla CD with the musicians of the Australian Chamber Orchestra under Richard Tognetti and guest accordionist James Crabb, and the difference was astounding. The Studio Orchestra of the European Film Philharmonic sounds tame next to the Australians. Of the four selections with orchestra, Osvaldo Farrés’ Quizás, quizás, quizás
comes off the best largely because the solo guitar is more prominent throughout the work. However, the twelve solo pieces more than make up for any shortcomings in the orchestral arrangements.
Of the composers represented (besides Piazzolla), the best known are Villa-Lobos and Manuel Ponce, both key composers for the guitar and whose music became recognized around the world through the efforts of Andrés Segovia. Indeed, they wrote much of their guitar music for him and Karadaglic pays tribute to the earlier master in the notes to the CD. The Prelude No. 1 of Villa-Lobos is especially rewarding with its rich, legato melody reminding the guitarist of a cello. The other Villa-Lobos piece comes from much earlier in the composer’s career and effectively combines the Brazilian chôro
with the Polish mazurka
. The two Ponce works reflect their Mexican heritage and are elegant and poignant in their lyricism. The music of Barrios Mangoré, on the other hand, as Miloš notes, “brought the technique of tremolo to the highest level of complexity”. Both of his selections employ tremolo and produce the kind of sound one often associates with romantic Latin guitar music.
In addition to Piazzolla, there are other representatives of the tango here: the French-Argentine Carlos Gardel by his Por una cabeza
and the Uruguayan Matos Rodríguez by his popular La cumparsita
; the latter in a harmonically “quirky” arrangement by Stephen Goss. There is one work, also a tango, by a non-Latin American composer, Tango en skaï
, by the French-Tunisian Roland Dyens. These tangos are memorable and wonderfully rendered. Of all the selections, the two hardest to get out of my head are the Cuban Leo Brouwer’s Un día de noviembre
and the Argentine Jorge Cardoso’s Milonga
. With their deceptively simple tunes they will haunt you for days on end.
Thus, the young Montenegrin has a lot going for him, besides his good looks. This is some of the best guitar playing I have heard in a long while. The recording is excellent, too, without any extraneous noises coming through — something that often occurs in solo guitar recordings. The booklet contains a number of full-colour photos of Miloš and good notes by Kenneth Chalmers with frequent comments by the guitarist. It is more than the kind of puff piece one might expect for someone who is so popular. After two such recordings, it is now time to hear Miloš Karadaglic in more substantial fare. I would love to hear him in the concertos of Malcolm Arnold and Villa-Lobos, for example, or even the ubiquitous Rodrigo. In the meantime, no guitar aficionado will want to miss this CD.