Milos (pronounced MEE-losh) is a Montenegrin guitarist; his full name is Milos Karadaglic (pronounced… ah, forget it — you’re on your own). By any name, he is the real deal: a passionate, effortlessly virtuosic and charismatic performer whose debut carries, and ultimately defies, the heavy weight of expectation.
Milos grew up worshiping at the altar of Julian Bream, the superstar classical guitarist from Britain whose recordings in the 1970s shaped many a budding guitar player, so you know he has good taste. As if to prove that point, he packs this album with some of the instrument’s greatest hits, along with some Mediterranean rarities. Francisco Tarrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” an exercise in tremolo, is played with precision and elan. His “Capricho Arabe” receives similarly assured playing. “Asturias” by Isaac Albeniz is beautifully rendered, with the inner voices all singing along with the familiar melody.
But Mediterraneo is more than the hits; the programming reflects the Balkan guitarist’s desire to encompass the entire Mediterranean basin, from Spain in the West to Greece and Turkey in the East. So there are two works by the well-known Mikis Theodorakis (who, it must be said, is well-known to film music audiences, not to classical guitar fans), and a brilliant suite by the Italian composer Carlo Domeniconi, “Koyunbaba,” which is a set of variations on a traditional Turkish theme. It is both a surprise and a highlight of what is a very promising debut.