I first heard classical guitarist Mattias Jacobsson play at the Swedish Church in New York City sometime in the fall of 2007. I was heavily pregnant then, and remember very vividly how moved I was by his playing. At the time, Jacobsson had recently concluded his studies at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music and was freelancing as a classical guitarist. His concert contained mostly Spanish and South American music, but also a prelude by Bach, originally composed for violin. The most beautiful piece was the haunting “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” (Memories of the Alhambra) by Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega.
Since that concert, I have kept an eye (and ear) on Jacobsson and I am thrilled to report that his debut album, “Invocación,” is out and contains (apart from “Recuerdos de la Alhambra”) compositions like “El Testament d’Amelia,” a Catalan traditional arrangement by Miguel Llobet y Soles, Chopin’s “Nocturne in E Op.9 No.2” and “Trois Morceaux Espagnlos” by Emilio Pujol Vilarrubí. Says Jacobsson about his album:
"The pieces I chose to record are ones that are very close to my heart, and essential to who I am as a guitarist: the music of Tárrega, which has almost become one with the instrument. But Tárrega's music has also reached a large general public; recently through Nokia's cell phone ring-tone ‘Grand Waltz,’ a quote from that piece by Tárrega.”
Jacobsson adds that it was through Tárrega that he discovered Chopin.
“What struck me one day was just how much Tárrega was influenced by Chopin,” he explains. “That inspiration caused him, a Spaniard, to write preludes, mazurkas (a regional Polish dance) and although not called nocturnes, pieces that function like them. He also made transcriptions of Chopin's piano music. When I heard them side by side, I understood Tárrega's music much better and understood where a big part of his inspiration came from. Playing Tárrega's Chopin transcriptions on the guitar is certainly a challenge, but one I found showing Chopin in an interesting light: a more intimate Chopin, something I found often being a natural side of his music.”
The album, he says, “seeks to paint a portrait of both an era in the Catalan region in the early 20th century, but also of myself and a crucial part of my musical upbringing.”
Mattias Jacobsson is still freelancing, making New York one of his bases.
Treat yourself to some beautiful, elusive classical guitar music by the enormously talented Mattias Jacobsson—you won’t regret it. This music is cream for your ears as well as your soul.
By Eva Stenskär
For more information: invocacion.tumblr.com/album