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Review: Perth Festival

Royal Northern Sinfonia with Milos Karadaglic

Royal Northern Sinfonia with Milos Karadaglic

Perth Concert Hall

Catherine Robb

Milos Karadaglic is a contemporary musical superstar, selling out international concert tours, signing exclusive record deals, and attracting glorified publicity in the media. This year the Perth arts festival has managed to attract a variety of big names, and on Saturday it seemed as if Karadaglic and his guitar was gracing the small city with his presence - in fact, arriving on stage he announced he had just flown in from Japan. But with all the hype and advertising tossed aside in the private confines of the concert hall, Karadaglic placed his guitar on his knee and commanded an attentive silence from the audience, his playing immaculate, intimate and thoroughly enjoyable. Karadaglic might just be one of those celebrities that lives up to their media-hyped reputation.

Although some traditionalists might have lamented Karadaglic's heavily romanticised rendition of Bach's second lute suite, the music was surprisingly mesmerising. His second solo offering was Domeniconi's Koyunbaba, a piece he claims to play every time he arrives in a new city, reminding him of the Montenegrin landscapes of his childhood. Again, despite the unnecessary liberal romanticism, he artfully navigated his way through the narrative quality of the music, depicting the ebb and flow of the seascape. The Rodrigo concerto, accompanied by the Sinfonia, was delightful, even if the orchestra sometimes overpowered the delicate sounds of the guitar.

Although the evening was all about Karadaglic, the Royal Northern Sinfonia continuously proved their status as one of the best chamber orchestras in the UK. Barber's Adagio For Strings was flawlessly serene, while their performances of Prokofiev's Classical symphony and Mozart's Prague symphony were light and bubbling with intensity, even if at times they took a while to get going.

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