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Album reviews: Milos Karadaglic, Avi Avital

By William Dart

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Milos Latino.
Milos Latino.

Milos Karadaglic: Latino
4/5 stars

Avi Avital: Bach (both Deutsche Grammophon)
3/5 stars

Verdict: Soulful virtuosi have variable success on four and eight strings. Two Deutsche Grammophon releases present a fetching linefor those who are into soulful young men with guitars (or mandolins).

When Milos Karadaglic made his recording debut in 2011, he was pictured as an open-shirted, bare-footed beach boy on its cover; a year later he is the urban sophisticate, sleeked up in suit and tie, trusty guitar casually in his lap.

Deutsche Grammophon has caught the young Montenegrin's blemish-free artistry to the last silvery rustle.

However, 16 shortish tracks - only one pushes beyond five minutes - do not coalesce into a fully satisfying listening experience.

There is an effortless sweep to the mandolin-like tremolo in Mangore's Un sueno en la floresta and Jorge Morel's Danza brasilera projects the sort of cool samba vibe that would blend well with Astrud Gilberto vocals.

La Cumparsita, that hardy old perennial of the tango palace, has been dashingly spiced up in Stephen Goss's arrangement but the voluptuous charm of a Villa-Lobos Mazurka-Choro cries out to be followed by the other four pieces of the Brazilian composer's original suite.

Four tracks add an orchestral backing with one, an arrangement of Piazzolla's Libertango, being marketed as an e-single and promoted with a slick YouTube video.

Alas, the bittersweet music of Piazzolla and fellow tanguero Carlos Gardel, makes its point much more tellingly in the hands of the original masters.

Avi Avital is a young Israeli determined, he tells us, to put the mandolin firmly on the musical map, with a debut recording of Bach Concertos and Sonatas.

Our ears have become accustomed to Vivaldi on mandolin, but the more cerebral Bach stretches credibility somewhat.

The result is pleasant enough wallpaper music, destined for a long life in the cappuccino bars.

Nevertheless, despite Avital's musicianship, the instrument sorely lacks the expressive potential of Bach's original violin, oboe and flute.

The players of Kammerakademie Potsdam prove spirited colleagues in the concertos while an E minor Flute Sonata is graced by the unusual continuo of harpsichord, theorbo and cello.

- NZ Herald

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