Pasion (CD review)

Milos Karadaglic, guitar. Christoph Israel, Studioorchester der Europaischen FilmPhilharmonie. DG B0017000-02.

Following the successful debut release of his album Mediteranno in 2011, Montenegrin guitarist Milos Karadoglic gives us much of the same in a program of Latin-American music, Pasion, from 2012. By “much of the same” I mean he provides skillful renditions of popular classical works, this time with perhaps a shade more panache and bravura than before.

Mr. Karadoglic goes by the single name “Milos,” and I hope it does not bespeak any vanity or pretentiousness on his part. I rather suspect that as he is a movie-star handsome young man, the name is merely another component in DG’s promotion of him, like the eight or so pictures of him we get on the disc cover, on the back, and in the booklet insert. When you’ve got a hot item, you go with it.

Anyway, Milos begins this newest album with Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, with the Studioorchester der Europaischen FilmPhilarmonie in accompaniment. It’s a brief piece, with a surging forward pulse.  I suppose it exemplifies the disc’s title, being fiery and passionate and all. It works pretty well as a curtain raiser, although I found the sound a little too big, close, and soft for my taste.

More music in a like vein follows, Jorge Morel’s Danza brazilera more subtle and subdued, with Milos’s playing even more nuanced. It’s quite lovely. Then it’s on to Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Prelude No. 1 in E minor, a popular tune that sounds reminiscent of Anton Karas’s Third Man theme but predates it by a decade. The Preludes are popular guitar pieces, and Milos does this one up pretty well.

And so it goes, with one of my favorite tangos getting a revved-up treatment from Milos and the orchestra: Carlos Gardel’s Por una cabeza. Any number of movies have featured it in their soundtrack, and here Milos emphasizes perhaps a bit too much the lilt of the dance rhythms. The music doesn’t really need further embellishment. Wait, I think I just saw Jamie Lee and Big Arnold dancing off the floor. Or was it Al Pacino?

By the middle of the program with Jorge Cardoso’s Milonga and Agustin Barrios Mongore’s Un sueno en la floresta, things take a turn toward the lyrical, the latter item among the most appealing things on the album with its extensive tremolo, that tremulous or vibrating effect that can sometimes sound corny but here works considerably well. The program continues with pieces by Leo Brouwer, Osvaldo Farres, Isaias Savio, Manuel Ponce, and Gerardo Matos Rodriguez.

When Milos performs live, he says “it's close to dreaming for me--afterwards I don't remember much about it. I just remember feeling very well, with a high level of energy and emotion.” That sentiment seems to describe his studio music making here as well. Classical guitar fanciers will enjoy another disc to add to their collection, and while they may find Milos’s performances a tad too flamboyant, there’s no denying they’re fun. Moreover, the Latin-American theme is intriguing.

DG recorded the music at St. Mary’s Church, Chilham, England, and b-sharp Studio, Berlin, Germany, in 2011-2012. The guitar is front and center, rather warm and ultrasmooth to match the playing. I would have preferred a little more bite to the strings. The orchestral accompaniment sounds slightly recessed but displays a strong dynamic thrust when necessary. This is slick, round, refined sound, light on transparency and heavy on atmosphere. 


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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on the Big Jon and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simpleminded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Arcam CDS50 CSD/SACD CD player, Goldpoint SA4 Passive Preamp, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE loudspeakers. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my cell phone. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer

Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.

The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa