Hot property Montenegran guitarist Miloš Karadaglić tells William Lane that he aims to span the ages
Young, strapping and blessed with magic in his fingers, the Montenegran classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić has burst on to the scene, surrounded by a significant blast of hype. Last year, he released his debut album with Deutsche Grammophon, won Gramophone magazine’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year award and has toured the globe on the back of his growing reputation. When we reached him by phone, the guitarist had just returned from a photo shoot in Puerto Rico, slightly disorientated. “I’m somewhere in Virginia,” he says. He now lives in London, but jet-sets all over the world, a side of the job he’s fully embraced. “I love it, waking up in a different city every day is just amazing,” he says. “This is the most exciting time for me.” Soon, he’ll be in Hong Kong too and, ahead of his debut recital here, we caught up with him to talk about the many charms of the guitar.
Hi Miloš! Let’s start at the start. You are from Montenegro, which doesn’t have a strong classical guitar tradition. How did you come into contact with the instrument?
My contact with the guitar was pure accident. When I was eight years old, I asked to go to music school and I happened to pick up the guitar because the guitar was cooler than other instruments! One day my father played me a recording of Segovia (playing Albeniz’s Asturias) on an old LP. When I heard this recording I was really excited – and from that point on I said I would practice every single day. When I was 14 I decided to dedicate my life to music. For me, I haven’t looked back.
Tell us a bit more about the programme you’ll play in Hong Kong.
This is my first recital in Hong Kong. What’s very important when you’re presenting yourself for the first time is the variety of your artistic capabilities and showcasing the variety of your instrument. I’m opening with Sor, probably the most important composer for the guitar from the Classical era. His Grand Solo is a completely operatic work; the guitar has to almost sound like a whole opera, not just an orchestra! That is always a very exciting way to open a programme for me. After that I wanted to play some Bach because, of course, I connect with the beauty of Bach’s music on the classical guitar. It’s divine. Then Villa Lobos, one of the most important Brazilian composers for classical guitar, wrote for Segovia on extending the repertoire and helping the guitar to get ‘out there’ into international concert halls.
You’re also playing works from Mediterráneo which was released on Deutsche Grammophon?
The first half of the programme consists of big recital pieces. Then in the second half of the programme I am playing the repertoire from Mediterráneo. I selected the Albeniz works because they are very exciting; they take you to Andalusia and the heat of Spain. To conclude, I have the Italian composer Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba, a lesser-known piece and completely magical, based on a Turkish folk song.
Mediterráneo was released last year. Tell us more about the album.
For such a great label, it was quite difficult for me to decide what to take on. Especially when you are an artist like me, where you get excited from the music of the Renaissance to the music that is written right now. I decided to go with the repertoire that excites me, the music that inspires me to follow the classical guitar. At the same time, the repertoire from the Mediterranean region is the true essence of my instrument; the Mediterranean is where I’m from and I grew up in that environment. This is only the first CD. We have plans for more and it’s a very exciting time.
How often to you perform transcriptions – and do you do transcriptions of works yourself?
It depends what the project is. With Mediterráneo, it was necessary because some of the most well-known guitar pieces are transcriptions. When it comes to Bach I do, because there was no [modern] guitar in Bach’s time, as with a lot of Baroque music. Transcription is an important part of our training and development. I also work with my mentor in London on some transcriptions, for example the Albeniz pieces.
The guitar is a very flexible instrument, from the club to the concert hall. You recently performed in Le Poisson Rouge, a new music club in New York.
Yes, it’s a different setting. The people who come to a club may not come to Wigmore Hall (in the UK). There is a place and taste for everything. Every venue has a different energy and atmosphere.
Photo: Olaf Heine