This is Miloš Karadaglić’s third recording for
DG/Mercury but he was already so well known by the time that he made the
first (The Guitar
: 4779693) as to be recognised by his first name
alone. His second album, Latino
, issued to considerable acclaim
(4790514 - review
), was so successful that it was reissued in a gold edition
(4791421 - review
Leslie Wright, reviewing Latino
, expressed the hope that
Miloš would record some more substantial repertoire, ‘even the
ubiquitous Rodrigo’. Here now is the fulfilment of that wish - not
just the familiar Aranjuez
concerto but also the slightly less
well-known Fantasía para un Gentilhombre
(for a nobleman, not
The Concierto de Aranjuez
is justly popular. It certainly
evokes the spirit of Spain, though I’m not sure that it does much to
recall my sole visit to the Palace of Aranjuez
fifty years ago.
I’m forgetting, however, that Rodrigo had been blind from childhood,
so it’s the sounds and smells of Aranjuez, where he spent part of his
honeymoon, rather than the images of the place that he is evoking.
Perhaps that is no bad thing: I’m sorry to say that my most
abiding memory of the place is of the crowd of disabled beggars who swarmed
towards tourists as they approached. The despot of neighbouring Portugal,
Salazar, tried to hide poverty from tourists to the extent of attempting to
legislate against it with laws against going barefoot, but Franco seems not
to have cared.
There are more recordings of Aranjuez
than you could shake a
stick at and I’ve heard a good many of them. The surprise is that I
can’t recall hearing a poor performance - it almost seems that the
music plays itself, given a competent soloist and orchestra and a
sympathetic conductor. It certainly receives that here and though there are
no special virtues that I can point to, it joins my list of the top versions
alongside the likes of Yepes and Argenta from 1957 (Beulah 2PD88, with Falla
Nights in the Gardens of Spain
and Turina Danzas fantasticas
2014/2 DL News
) and the Bream/Monteverdi Orchestra/Gardiner
(Sony, download only or stream from Naxos Music Library, with Lennox
Berkeley Guitar Concerto) to name just two classic recordings which have
recently been reissued.
That Bream/Gardiner recording can be obtained for a mere £3.99
from iTunes or the CD of Bream/CoE/Gardiner, coupled with Fantasía
para un Gentilhombre
(RCA 88697715022) for not much more. Opt for one of
these whatever other versions you may have. One reviewer of an earlier
Miloš recording spoke of his understated virtuosity and I believe the
two halves of that definition - equally applicable to Julian Bream, I would
add - to be the secret of the success of this recording.
The alternative later Bream/Gardiner version of Aranjuez
the 1980s comes with two of the other works on the new DG recording:
Invocación y danza
and the Fantasía
, with the
RCA Symphony Orchestra and Leo Brouwer. In these works, too, Bream is my
benchmark and here again Miloš challenges his supremacy.
I enjoy the Fantasía
almost more than Aranjuez
Like Respighi’s The Birds
and Ancient Airs and Dances
and Walton’s The Wise Virgins
it re-imagines the music of the
past. It’s easy to recognise the works which the composer has mined,
since Rodrigo makes no attempt to disguise his borrowings from Gaspar Sanz -
they are acknowledged in the titles of the movements - and yet you hear it
all completely transformed. It’s pastiche but good pastiche and the
recurring theme which links the music is blissful. As throughout the
recording, soloist, orchestra and conductor convince the listener without
trying to gild the lily.
The solo Falla Homenaje
(homage) was composed in memory of
Debussy. It’s followed by a slightly understated guitar transcription
of the Miller’s Dance from El sombrero de tres picos
Rodrigo’s Invocación y danza.
All these short solo
pieces receive good performances.
Some online sites advertise two short extra tracks by Sor and
Lennon/McCartney arr. Takemitsu. I’m not sure what happened to these -
presumably they ended up on the cutting floor.
The version which I received for review from Mercury Classics came in
16-bit CD-equivalent sound (wav) and it sounds fine. The least expensive
download that I could find was from 7digital.com - costing slightly less
than those from amazon.co.uk and iTunes and at the full mp3 bit-rate of
320kb/s. Universal’s own site, deutschegrammophon.com, usually offer
mp3 and lossless downloads of their own recordings but on this occasion they
referred me to iTunes, so the only lossless option that I can find for you
is at prestoclassical.co.uk.
There are two versions of the cover - one with the DG logo for
international use and one without for the UK. As I received my review
download from Mercury, I presume that the UK version will appear on that
Fans of Miloš Karadaglić will need no urging to obtain
this third album. Others may do so with confidence, even if they have other
versions of one or both of the main works.
Masterwork Index: Concierto de Aranjuez