Strait-laced traditionalists have a problem with Milos Karadaglic: they simply can’t accept that this debonair Montenegrin guitarist’s night-club schmoozings co-exist with artistry of an uncorrupted classical perfection.
But here he was, in a sold-out Royal Festival Hall, proving the point yet again with a performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez which allowed that work to reveal its gentle beauty.
His finely-judged solo opening - echoed by the London Philharmonic held on a tight rein by Vladimir Jurowski – was the prelude to an exploration of the concerto’s imagined landscape, through a musical conversation in which Milos’s playing had a notably restrained eloquence.
The amplification of the guitar was better than I have ever heard it in this auditorium – the sound seemed at once small and powerfully focused - and as a result the solo and tutti voices interwove sweetly throughout the Adagio; the courtly quality of the concluding dance resolved itself in a cadence in which Milos unassumingly seemed to play himself off the stage.
Introducing his encore – a de Falla transcription - he clicked seamlessly into night-club mode, but here too we got expressiveness rather than showy virtuosity; his technical flawlessness became the underpinning for a pulsating warmth.