Mahan Esfahani

Biography

”The harpsichord may never quite be mainstream material, but you sense that, if it were ever to get there, Esfahani might just be the man to make it happen.” (International Record Review, February 2014)

”It would be hard not to be impressed by Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. Young, suave, eloquent…he’s an inquisitive mind…a phenomenally accomplished performance.” (The Guardian, July 2012)

”elegant…impressive technique.” (New York Times, April 2012)

”Esfahani, in total control technically, clearly delights in exploiting the expressive possibilities of the harpsichord and its sheer variety of sounds….” (Gramophone, July 2011)

Mahan Esfahani was born in Tehran in 1984 and received his first guidance on the piano from his father before exploring an interest in the harpsichord as a teenager. He went on to study musicology and history at Stanford University, where he was mentored by George Houle, before studying intensively with Peter Watchorn in Boston and completing his formation with the celebrated Zuzana Růžičková in Prague. He was a BBC New Generation Artist from 2008-2010, a Borletti-Buitoni Trust prizewinner, and in 2014 Mahan was on the shortlist both for the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year and Gramophone Artist of the Year – all firsts for the harpsichord.

Since making his London debut in 2009 he has worked tirelessly to establish the harpsichord in the mainstream of concert instruments in classical and contemporary repertoire. This mission came to significant public attention when Mahan played the first harpsichord recital in the history of the BBC Proms in 2011. Since then, recent and upcoming highlights include solo performances at the Zurich Tonhalle, Cologne Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall and the Barbican Centre in London, Wiener Konzerthaus, Schloss Elmau, Munich’s Bell’Arte Festival, the Frick Collection in New York, Sumida Symphony Hall in Tokyo, Denki Bunka Kaikan in Nagoya, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Bristol Proms at the Old Vic, the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, Petronas Hall in Kuala Lumpur, the Bruges Concertgebouw, Mogens Dahl Koncerthus in Copenhagen, Pharos Arts Trust in Cyprus, Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds, the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, and the Leipzig Bach Festival.

Following two successful albums for Hyperion Records – with C.P.E. Bach’s Württemburg Sonatas garnering a Gramophone Award and a Diapason d’Or, and the complete keyboard works of Jean-Philippe Rameau being named in the New York Times ‘Critics’ List of Top Recordings of 2014’ – Mahan Esfahani signed as an exclusive artist with Deutsche Grammophon. His first album for DG/Archiv, ‘Time Present and Time Past’ – a recording of music ranging from J.S. Bach and Scarlatti to Gorecki and Steve Reich – is due to be released in the Spring of 2015, and he can also be heard with fellow DG artist Avi Avital on the latter’s recent Vivaldi album. He also has recorded Byrd and Ligeti for Wigmore Live, winning yet another Gramophone Editor’s Choice. He is professor of harpsichord at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.