The Montenegro-born classical guitarist Milo≈ Karadaglić is in many ways the ideal interpreter of Rodrigo’s brand of Spanish musical nationalism. That’s because, as evinced by his previous two releases for Deutsche Grammophon and live concert performances, his playing is the epitome of passion tempered by elegance. And what is Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez if not flamenco passion tempered by classical elegance?
For this, his first orchestral recording, Karadaglić has understandably chosen to tackle what is not only one of the most popular concertos ever written for any instrument but a veritable rite of passage for classical guitarists. In a very traditional coupling, he has also included Rodrigo’s almost-as-popular Fantasía para un gentilhombre; the remainder of the programme is filled out with some of the masterworks of the solo guitar repertoire, one of which - Sor’s Grand Solo, appears on my review download to be an extra, along with Takemitsu’s charming arrangement of Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Michelle’.
But to the Concierto de Aranjuez. Accompanied by a very much on-form London Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Karadaglić opts for clearly defined paragraphs of great rhythmic precision within which flashing rasgueado and highly articulated passages are beautifully contrasted with fast ultra-legato scales, judiciously balanced multiple-stopping and, especially in the Adagio, a refined cantabile that is never allowed to descend into faux-bathos, as is so often the case here. This is a thoughtful and, I think, durable interpretation that will stand the test of time.
Of the remaining items, while the Fantasía is elegance and charm itself, and while both the Homenaje and Danza del Molinero luxuriate in swathes of orchestral-like colours, it’s in Rodrigo’s Invocación y danza that we find Karadaglić at his soloistic and, yes, elegant best.