Miloš Karadaglić – Aranjuez

For all that classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić has achieved so far in his recording career, it was simply just child’s play. Aranjuez is where Karadaglić lays down some serious business and self-anoints himself into a pantheon level of the iconic classical guitarist that preceded him.

It’s pretty easy to be skeptical of the young classical guitarist. With his dark, handsome looks, showoff style, and somewhat discreet training pedigree, Karadaglić has appeared more often than not as a romanticizing, boytoy musician to the general public that unfortunately has masked his truthfully legitimate skills. His debut record steered on the safe side and was mostly of standard fare for the classical guitar, while his followup record was more lighthearted than most critics were willing to accept. His latest effort Canción showed he can merge the stylistic and the technical into a beautiful union, that if given the opportunity would change the dynamic by which we perceive the classical guitar. Yet through all the trials and tribulations of proving his worth as a legitimate classical guitarist and after three LPs of increasing technical merit, Karadaglić has always been the underdog.

Enough talk.

You don’t take on the world’s greatest piece ever written for the classical guitar and stamp it with an exuberant amount of pompous fortitude unless you got some serious bravado. Karadaglić does just that on Aranjuez.

The top level technicality of Karadaglić’s performance is almost second nature now at this point and practically a moot point to even debate. What separates Karadaglić now from the rest of his classical guitar peers is how he sizzles Joaquín Rodrigo’s most iconic work and how far beyond what others have been willing to cross. On the second movement, Karadaglić just bends the pacing in such a splashy way that everything sounds freshened and yet still tightened up at the same time. Karadaglić’s trademark has been balancing flash and substance, and he gives new life to arguably the most played-out showpiece in all of classical guitar repertoire.

Purists may find it hard to see past the splashiness that Karadaglić typically adds but in doing so, the young guitarist achieves a level of interpretation that separates him from even a John Williams or Julian Bream. Generally most classical guitarists go with a back and forth pull between the guitar and the other instruments on Rodrigo’s concerto, but Karadaglić opts to command fully 100%. The gentleness remains and the rhythmic dance of instruments stay intact, but Karadaglić’s fingers are always positioning the emotional balance to be centered solely on him. In doing so he remains faithful to the varying levels of spirit of Rodrigo’s masterpiece and keeps everything, stiffness and tranquility breaks all in tow, but doesn’t back down from making the concerto a concoction of his own – sassy and slightly brooding.

The remainder of the record is a bit of a hard sell following the a stellar opening act of Aranjuez concerto, but as stand alone sets elsewhere they’d be the top billing given Karadaglić’s added effort on them.

Karadaglić explores Manuel de Falla’s “Homenaje” and the tingling “Danza del Molinero” – both simple sets that Karadaglić essentially tackles with a gentler subtlety than longtime listeners will be accustomed to hearing from him. He remains practical on both in addition to Rodrigo’s “Invocation y danza,” keeping the pacing in line and remaining at just the right amount of tenseness.

Karadaglić closes out the record with an enthusiastic and vividly audacious take on Rodrigo’s Fantasia. Like “Aranjuez,” “Fantasia” is handled smoothly and with a stylistic touch that enamors in a whole new light. Already an enchantment piece, Karadaglić does not shy away from injecting a bit of mystery and allure. Whereas Karadaglić is commanding on “Aranjuez,” by design he is more of a passive guide on the four movements of “Fantasia” and allows the flow to be more sincere but still maintaining its charm.

It’s not surprising that Karadaglić would reach such technical heights at this point in his career, but it’s definitely shocking to see he would reach such a level of maturity this fast. Through all the dazzling pop that Karadaglić maneuvers through on Aranjuez, there’s still a seriousness to his style of performance that keeps everything grounded. Aranjuez isn’t a revelation for anyone that loves classical guitar – it’s simply just an asterisk on Karadaglić’s skill going forward, but its damn sure BIG asterisk. You get to this point of performance quality and the answer will remain the same for every question: Miloš Karadaglić is legit.

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