The last two years have seen Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglić enjoy phenomenal success, with two best-selling CDs for Deutsche Grammophon. And now comes the biggest concert of his career to date, in the form of a solo appearance at the Royal Albert Hall…
You make your solo recital debut at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 September. What are you planning for the occasion?
Because it’s such a special concert, I’m planning to showcase everything from my two CDs – Mediterraneo and Latino – and also to add some Bach and Villa-Lobos. I’ll be opening with Albéniz and some Bach, then a big set of Villa-Lobos; then, in the second half there will be Brazilian showpieces, Barrios’s Sueño and Tremolo and Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba. I’m really looking forward it.
By and large, solo guitar recitals take place in small, intimate venues. What will it be like performing in the vast spaces of the Royal Albert Hall?
I’ve never played in a venue as large as the Albert Hall, simply because there aren’t many of that size in the world! But when I do play in larger venues, there is something else added to the mix, and that’s this huge concentration of energy within the audience. When you are in front of, say, 2,000 people, the electricity is just incredible – as a performer, you find sounds and other aspects that you don’t normally find. I’m not worried about the Albert Hall being too large because when you’re performing right in the middle – in the round – it actually creates the most spectacularly intimate atmosphere.
Does such a varied programme bring with it a range of technical challenges?
Of course. The Bach is difficult to play in its own right; in the Villa-Lobos, you have to make it sound as if you are playing a different instrument than the guitar – something much grander, like a cello; in the little Brazilian pieces you have to capture the rhythm and essence of the street music tradition of South America; the Domeniconi, which is always a joy to play, experiments with all sorts of different techniques; and, while it may sound like a summer breeze, Barrios’s Tremolo is one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the guitar.
Your first CD, Mediterraneo, featuring works by Albéniz, Tárrega and Domeniconi, sold phenomenally well. Did its success take you by surprise?
Yes and no. I’ve always believed in the power of this music and that the guitar can translate to everybody, not just the connoisseurs. But I was a little bit surprised, and thrilled, when it happened, and Latino is now on its way to joining the same sort of league. The repertoire on both albums is so true and honest to the guitar – it can speak to the widest possible audience without any need for change or compromise. That is the beauty of the classical guitar – it can do exactly that. And once you’ve reached that wide audience, then you can later challenge them with more demanding repertoire.
On the subject of demanding repertoire, you play a lot of contemporary music. Any plans to record that soon?
There are so many different types of contemporary music, of course, but if I were to record an album of avant-garde music I don’t think there would be an audience for it at the moment. I think it is important to build your foundations and your audience before doing something like that. Working with contemporary composers has always been a priority for me, and will always remain a priority, but I just have to wait for the right moment.
Finally, during the Olympics, you were Tweeting regularly. How did Montenegro get on?
We won silver in the women’s handball! We’re a country of only 600,000 people, and it was our first Olympic medal. I was watching it in Montenegro, with my family in a little bar on the coast, and it was very exciting. If only it wasn’t for those bl**dy Norwegians…!
Miloš performs at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 25 September at 7.45pm. For more information or to book tickets please call 020 7589 8212 or visit the website.
To win tickets to Miloš's concert or a signed copy of 'Latino' enter our competition before 3 September