For the last five years, Jacobo Christensen Fabuel, age 17, has been amazing people for various reasons: he produces a sound — and what a sound! — that is fluid and bright and that, without doubt, he will expand over time, to broach the most demanding pieces. His technical skills, developed through diligent study with his teachers, give him total freedom to delve into pieces that allow him to fly, without losing sight of the centre of gravity that must keep every musician’s feet on the ground.
In a multidisciplinary event (complete with videoclip, poetry reading and dancers) the violinist performed some of the works from his first CD, together with the Basque pianist Carlos Apellániz. Christensen began with two standards, Liebesleid and Liebesfreud by Kreisler, where his bow looked more like a paint brush given the plasticity he managed to evoke in so few minutes..
Rivalling Manuel de Falla’s original Seven Popular Spanish Folk Songs is always a challenge. Christensen played the arrangement by Russian violinist Pavel Kochanski. No doubt he has a “home advantage” with these lovely little gems, with his mother’s advice playing no small part, as she is an expert authority on the pieces’ style and elegance. Next on the program was Dance no. 1 from Falla’s La vida breve, where the violinist shared the stage with two flashy dancers..
Christensen’s rendition of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen (Op. 20) conjured the work of a goldsmith. This is one of those tried and true pieces, and the artist played it with level-headedness, subtleness and precision, without succumbing to the usual clichés. The audience held its breath during all four movements where Christensen balanced technical mastery with expressiveness in each phrase.
Carlos Apellániz, ever steady, is his usual accompanist and you could feel the complicity between the two musicians. Apellániz followed Christensen scrupulously, poised for any rubato, balancing his own playing with the sound of the violin, always on top of the dynamics. It was a great, huge success with Granado’s Andaluza and Gardel’s Por una cabeza as the apotheosis. And all from memory!