Rodrigo • Falla

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Falla,Rodrigo
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Milos: Aranjuez
WORKS: Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Invocación y Danza; Fantasía para un Gentilhombre; Falla: Homenaje (Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy); The Three-Cornered Hat – Dance of the Miller
PERFORMER: Milos Karadaglic (guitar); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
CATALOGUE NO: 481 0652

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Hailing from Montenegro, and living in England, this hugely talented guitarist here tackles some of the juiciest (and most problematic) pieces in the Spanish repertoire with fabulous results. Milos Karadaglic has a feather-light touch, honeyed tone and warm bass. Musical details are well thought through, and – like a good pianist pedalling – he knows when, and how long, to let notes and chords ring on for colourful effect.

Separate lines are superbly distinct, for instance in the foot-stamping finale of Aranjuez, one of the clearest, crispest on record. The Concerto’s famous second movement – now known to be a cry of despair for the Rodrigos’ stillborn first child, rather than a stroll through sunny palace grounds – is excellently done with a fine climax (though for me, Julian Bream and Gardiner’s second movement remains unbeaten for passion and momentum). The balance artificially upstages the orchestra (as it has to), revealing lots of guitar detail often unheard (though the strings often have a chilly, filtered feel).

The solo pieces are super too, with lots of reverb, giving a sense of mystic space. The Homenaje is dark, dignified and brooding, and the ‘Dance of the Miller’ dazzles, evoking all Falla’s orchestral, guitar-imitating original. The Invocación (a homage to the Homenaje) is one of the best on CD, making dramatic sense of this brilliant but episodic piece, silkily knitting together those disparate tremolando, arpeggio and harmonics passages. Add a stately Fantasía full of nostalgic grandeur, and this is a thoroughly recommendable, beautiful disc.

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Rob Ainsley