New Classical Tracks: Homage to Guitar and Guitarists

by Julie Amacher, Minnesota Public Radio
August 27, 2014
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St. Paul, Minn. — Milos — Aranjuez (Deutsche Grammophon)

Miloš Karadaglić has just released his fourth and what he refers to as his most ambitious recording yet. "I say the most ambitious one because it was my first concerto recording, of two of the most iconic and important concertos in the guitar repertoire," he says. "Also the other repertoire on the disc represents some of the most important pieces in the solo repertoire. So it's a record that so far, I am most proud of, in a way, because somehow it showcases the guitar on its highest artistic level and I couldn't have had better collaborators to make it work than I did."

This recording is a personal homage to musicians and composers who changed the course of history for the guitar. It opens and closes with two significant guitar concertos by Joaquin Rodrigo, "Concierto de Aranjuez," and "Fantasia para un Gentilhombre." It's probably no surprise that both these concertos have a connection to legendary guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia. You may be a little amazed to learn however, that Segovia never recorded the most famous of these two works. "Nor played — and I'll tell you why," Miloš explains, "Segovia was really angry because Aranjuez was not dedicated to him but was dedicated to Regino Sainz de la Maza, who, in the 1940s, when the concerto was premiered, was a much more important guitarist in Spain than Segovia. So we're touching upon artistic egos here. But as a result of that situation, Rodrigo wrote another beautiful concerto and called it Concerto Fantasia for a Gentleman. And that gentleman was Segovia … who recorded it and played it all over the world."

The "Concierto de Aranjuez," was inspired by the fragrant Spanish gardens at the Palace of Aranjuez. As you listen, you may find yourself transported to another place and time. "I always say to the orchestra that you have to imagine that Rodrigo is blind and that the only thing he could experience in those gardens was through hearing, through his ears," Miloš says, "and those are gardens that are buzzing with life, and when you visit, it's an evident fact — the fountains, the water, the wind, the birds. And we hear all those elements in the first movement in particular.

"And this second movement is a story of loss and disappointment and those cruel moments that life throws at us," Miloš continues, "And it was written at a time when Rodrigo lost his child with his wife — their first child was stillborn. And he was so devastated that he expressed his sadness through a piece which became a soundtrack to the life of so many people around the world. And a piece that inspired so many musicians and transcended so many areas of music and humanity.

"And the third movement is optimistic again because life must go on. And it just has that incredible infectious rhythm and freedom and sparkle again and that whole concerto really is a big roller coaster of emotions. And I feel it every time I play it because every time with a different orchestra, a different conductor — you just feel it in a different way. But what we did that day — one day in London — was just the most beautiful experience of that piece that I've ever had and that's why I love this record so much because it represents that incredible sense of fulfillment which you can only create when you do it with other people and the people in that studio were incredible and that's it. One of those special moments.

"While Aranjuez, as I said, is a roller coaster of emotion, of challenge, technical and every single possible way, Fantasia is something which just exists in some sort of middle ground between reality and non-reality," explains Miloš, "It's a piece which has so much space. That piece just allows the guitar to breathe. And it allows you to enjoy all those moments on your own — there is no chase, no hurry. You're just creating a beautiful sound world."

That sound world became even more alluring due to the special relationship Miloš has with the London Philharmonic and French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, "The London Philharmonic is a little bit like family to me because it was the first international orchestra that gave me a shot at playing with them when I just graduated from the Royal Academy," Miloš says. "And this was a very important moment in my life for which I was always grateful. Then we played it many times again and when it came time to record it, I really did not want any orchestra but them because they really are like family. And recording this album with the LPO, with Yannick, at Abbey Road Studios, with the best engineers of DG, was one of those moments where the stars align and you are able to create something that you will remember for the rest of your life and for me this album is exactly that."



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