Montenegro, one of the nations that arose from the former Yugoslavia, is best known for sports and tourism. Its closest connection to classical music might be Franz Lehár‘s 1905 operetta The Merry Widow, set in the Paris embassy of the Grand Duchy of Pontevedro — a fictionalized version of Montenegro (whose roots date to the 9th century).
But a young talent is putting Montenegro on the classical music map in reality. At 31, guitarist Miloš Karadaglić already has earned comparisons to classical guitar greats such as Julian Bream and John Williams. Karadaglić, who increasingly goes by his first name alone, counts Williams as a definite influence. “When I was growing up in Montenegro the only CDs I could listen to with the repertoire I was interested in were by John Williams. I loved the sound he was making,” said Miloš, who will make his Ravinia debut July 11, in concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (He also will perform July 15 in recital at Ravinia’s Martin Theatre.) “And he was playing a guitar by Greg Smallman [a famous Australian luthier and the so-called Guitar-Maker to the Stars]. When I finally got a Smallman guitar in 2007, I was the happiest person on the planet.”
At Ravinia, Miloš will perform Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, the centerpiece of his latest disc, “Aranjuez” (Deutsche Grammophon), released in February. In an Editor’s Choice review published in the British magazine Gramophone, William Yeoman wrote: “Classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić is in many ways the ideal interpreter of Rodrigo’s brand of Spanish musical nationalism. … His playing is the epitome of passion tempered by elegance. And what is Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez if not flamenco passion tempered by classical elegance? This is a thoughtful and, I think, durable impretration that will stand the test of time.”
PHOTO: Miloš in a publicity photo for “Aranjuez.” | Photo by Olaf Heine/DG