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)

Praised as ‘‘his instrument’s leading champion’’ (International Piano) and for his ‘‘daring and fiery performances’’ (The Times), Mahan Esfahani was born in Tehran in 1984 and first studied the piano with his father and as a teenager went on to explore an interest in the harpsichord and organ. He is the first harpsichordist to be a BBC New Generation Artist and to be awarded a prize from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. After his Wigmore Hall solo debut in 2009, the Daily Telegraph exclaimed ‘‘the harpsichord comes out of hiding…magnificent,’’ and he has since then developed an ever-growing reputation as a recitalist and concerto soloist at major European halls and with such orchestras as the Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, the Hamburg Symphony, the Hanover Band, Arion Baroque Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony, and B’ROCK under the baton of such conductors as Thierry Fischer, Martyn Brabbins, and Jiri Belohlavek.

In July 2011 he made history with the first solo harpsichord recital in the Proms, selling out London’s Cadogan Hall, and he was re-invited to the Proms in 2012 to direct his own orchestration of J.S. Bach’s Art of Fugue for the Academy of Ancient Music. Recent highlights have included a solo tour of Japan and appearances at the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Cologne Philharmonie, Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall, Prague Symphony Chamber Concerts, Musica Antiqua Festival of Bruges, New York’s Frick Collection, the Leeds International Concert Season, Istanbul Bach Days, Maastricht Musica Sacra Festival, Copenhagen’s Garnisonskirken, Vancouver Early Music, and elsewhere. Future dates include solo recitals in Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the Aldeburgh Festival, the Bell’Arte Festival of Munich, Schloss Elmau, BRQ Vantaa Festival in Finland, and at London’s Wigmore Hall where is a regular recitalist. He also pursues a fruitful collaboration with the Danish ‘‘Queen of the Recorder,’’ Michala Petri, with whom a disc of Corelli is to be released in 2014 on OUR Recordings.

Esfahani studied musicology and history as a President’s Scholar at University, where his principal mentor was the musicologist George Houle; he later studied in Boston with Peter Watchorn and in Milan with Lorenzo Ghielmi. For the last few years has studied closely with the celebrated Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková in Prague, whom he considers his closest mentor and musical influence. His first disc for Hyperion Records – of C.P.E. Bach’s ‘‘Württemberg’’ Sonatas (1744) – was released in January 2014 to widespread acclaim, making the top 40 of Classical Charts and being honoured as Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’, The Times ‘Disc of the Week’, and BBC Music Magazine ‘Record of the Month’. His recital disc of Byrd, Bach, and Ligeti for Wigmore Hall Live is to be released in March 2014, and later in the year his two-disc set of Rameau’s complete solo harpsichord music will be released with Hyperion.