This is the debut recording by young Swedish guitarist Mattias Jacobsson. His saturnine pose on the front cover may be very modern, but his recital is a collection of old faithfuls - Preludes and Mazurkas by the great Spanish guitarist-composer Francisco Tárrega or his arrangements of Chopin's own. Avie's blurb describes their juxtaposition as a "unique concept in the guitar discography", which is, rather surprisingly, almost true: apart from Tom Kerstens' recording for BGS Records (BGS102), which included original Preludes and Mazurkas by Tárrega as well as his arrangement of three of Chopin's Preludes, no one seems to have had the idea. In which case, this is something of a scoop for Jacobsson and Avie.
Jacobsson's programme also incorporates a few items by Tárrega's students Miguel Llobet and Emili Pujol. The whole programme is intelligently arranged so as to provide not just variety and contrast, but also the opportunity for comparison - Chopin's Raindrop
Prelude followed by Tárrega's own delicately fragranced Lagrima
(Teardrop) Prelude, for example, or three Mazurkas of Tárrega's sandwiched between two by the composer who inspired them. Thus, Tárrega's admiration for Chopin is instantly obvious and touching.
Chopin himself was fond of the guitar, and it is hard to believe that he would not have enjoyed hearing his own works transcribed so adeptly. Similarly, it is easy to imagine Tárrega nodding quietly to himself, listening to Jacobsson play his pieces. He is coolly elegant from beginning to end, with a bright, attractive tone, felicitous phrasing and commanding technical application, such as his tremolo control in Recuerdos de la Alhambra
Sound quality is very good, as it invariably is at the AAAL. The accompanying booklet has marvellous detail, with well written notes by Jacobsson in English, German and French, even if the layout is a little idiosyncratic. A fine product, in sum, and although the musical content has been recorded scores of times before, the Tárrega-Jacobsson combination is one that should be experienced by all musical epicures.
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