The Abu Dhabi Festival has been dominated by grand orchestral sounds emerging from Emirates Palace Auditorium, but last night saw a welcome change of pace, with an intimate set by the guitarist Miloš Karadaglic.
Continuing this year’s festival tradition, a duo of local musicians from the UAE’s House of Oud opened the show with an evocative instrumental piece using the qanun and oud.
Karadaglic then came on the stripped-down stage and explored a repertoire ranging from classical composer JohannSebastian Bach (Prelude and Fugue from Suit No 2 BWV997) to the Argentine guitarist Jorge Morel.
The latter’s samba-inspired Danza Brasiliera kicked off the programme’s second half, with its sounds firmly based in the Latin world.
Milonga, composed by Jorge Cardoso, was beautifully delivered with Karadaglic capturing the guitar‘s ability to deliver sweet laments.
A popular touch was added with Antonio Jobim’s The Girl from Ipanema. Inspired by Dianne Krall’s version, Karadaglic seemed to do away with Krall’s expansive take for something more miniature and intimate.
The less is more approach also served him well on Consuelo Velazquez’s much-loved Bésame Mucho with Karadaglic simply focusing on the tune’s evocative melody.
Karadaglic kept most of his awe-inspiring virtuosity for the finale, an epic performance of Carlo Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba.
With the composer inspired by a Turkish sojourn, the four-part piece saw Karadaglic slowly building the pace, his 2007 Greg Smallman guitar telling stories of lashing waves and rugged mountains.
It was a wonderful illustration of the guitar’s place in both the modern and classical musical world.