Miloš: Voice of the Guitar
Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Sunday 22nd September 2019
Miloš Karadaglić continues his mission to unite the worlds of classical and pop music by means of the acoustic guitar with this concert of a variety of pieces which he describes as a musical journey from Bach to the Beatles and beyond. Backed by string quintet, 12 Ensemble, (who get the evening started with a Brandenberg Concerto by JS Bach), Miloš is a quietly intense figure, focussed on his fingers as he extracts audio beauty from his guitar. It’s marvellous to behold and even better to hear.
He’s quite slight, in his skinny fit, black suit and black shirt, and handsome, like a lost Jonas Brother, with a charming, gently self-deprecating humour when he addresses the audience to tell us what’s coming up. A native of Montenegro, he seems bemused to be in Wolverhampton – but, who wouldn’t be? The sumptuous beauty of the Grand Theatre is an appropriate setting for the music we are about to hear.
After the quintet’s Bach opener, Miloš responds with a Bach solo, before they all play together a stirring and dynamic Boccherini fandango. Other highlights include Tarrega’s Lagrima, wistful in its sadness, plucking at your heartstrings; a piece from De Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat, a bold and rhythmic flamenco; and the famous Spanish Romance, here exquisitely arranged for guitar and strings. Piazzolla’s rousing Libertando rounds off the first half nicely, and I already feel like I’ve been through the wringer – but pleasantly so!
The second half kicks off with a Villa-Lobos prelude in E minor, followed by pieces by Pujol and Savio – all favourites in the guitarist’s repertoire. A real treat is when Miloš is joined by the first violinist from the quintet for a Piazzola duet, originally written for guitar and flute, that is just lovely.
And then we move onto more recent fare with the title track from the new album, Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence. There is a danger, I always think, that pop songs rendered as instrumentals can sound like lift music or on-hold music, but the arrangements here add depth to the pieces. Divested of their lyrics (an important part of any pop song) numbers by Radiohead and the Beatles take on new colours – and you can’t help singing the words in your head anyway. The Fool On The Hill is given a rhapsodic treatment and it’s just marvellous. It all sounds great but I prefer the classical pieces, the slow tangos with their bittersweet melancholy. Probably just the mood I am in tonight!
A splendid evening with a rich and varied programme, showcasing the versatility of the instrument and the virtuosity of the performer.