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The Moon & The Forest (Miloš)

Miloš Karadaglić (guitar); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Ben Gernon et al (Decca)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

The Moon & The Forest
Ludovico Einaudi: Full Moon (arr. Lewin); R Schumann: Träumerei (arr. Lewin); Howard Shore: The Forest; Joby Talbot: Ink Dark Moon
Miloš Karadaglić (guitar); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Ben Gernon et al
Decca 485 1525   51:40 mins

Not many musicians become popular enough to be identifiable by their first name alone. That the Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglić has achieved this is testament to his charismatic brilliance as well as his cross-genre mainstream appeal. Both qualities emerge through this album of specially commissioned concertos by Howard Shore and Joby Talbot, although the material they provide is disappointingly insubstantial.

Miloš is acutely aware that, while Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is ‘stunning’, as he puts it, for many concert-goers it’s their ‘first and only contact with the classical guitar.’ If only the composers he chose to help rectify that situation had resisted Iberian cliché – including, in the case of Shore’s The Forest, outright quotation from the Spaniard but without his dramatic flair. Shore is best known as composer of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films. But little of those scores’ magical-mystery – nor their emotional range – makes it into his concerto, as Miloš and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra (conducted by Alexander Shelley) strive to flesh out its formulaic moods and atmospheres.

Talbot’s Ink Dark Moon has greater textural interest, as he dares – mostly successfully here with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Ben Gernon – to envisage a large orchestra as a lush extension of the guitar. Yet again, however, from arpeggiated melodies to major-minor twists and rasgueado climaxes, his gestures are over‑familiar.

More satisfying are Michael Lewin’s solo arrangements of Schumann’s ‘Träumerei’ (No. 7 from Kinderszenen Op. 15) and, hauntingly, Ludovico Einaudi’s Full Moon.

Steph Power