In an age when bombast and spectacle seem to rule contemporary culture, the Spanish guitar stands out as a subtle, aristocratic instrument. In the last few years, a handful of young guitarists have risen to champion its qualities, including Montenegro’s Miloš Karadaglić, China’s Xuefei Yang and Sweden’s Mattias Jacobsson.
The latter artist has just released his debut album, “Invocación,” which is devoted to the great 19th-century guitarist-composer Francisco Tárrega.
Like his contemporaries, Jacobsson grew up far from the cultural epicenter of Spanish guitar. He was born and raised near Stockholm, Sweden, and at age 18 he moved to New York to study with Sharon Isbin at the Juilliard School. Yet he has an innate feel for the music of Tárrega, who established the guitar as a "serious" instrument, with more than 80 original works and over 100 transcriptions (Tárrega is also famous, or infamous, for his Gran Vals, which formed the Nokia ringtone that was ubiquitous a decade ago).
Tárrega adopted several of Chopin’s compositional formats, such as the prelude, mazurka and waltzes and also transcribed several of Chopin’s own works in these genres. Not coincidentally, he became known as “the Chopin of the guitar." The guitar can evoke in these pieces a softer and more sensitive character. Jacobsson presents these side by side with Tárrega’s efforts in the forms, allowing direct comparison.
Also featured here are some Tárrega favorites including the irresistibly sentimental Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra), Capricho Arabe and Lagrima.
Mattias Jacobsson, guitar
Available at Arkivmusic.com