If you buy only one record of harpsichord music in your life — and that’s a decision I would have some sympathy with – buy this sensational album. The 30-year-old Iranian-American Mahan Esfahani has been making waves among connoisseurs for several years. Now he emerges as a superstar whose musicianship, imagination, virtuosity, cultural breadth and charisma far transcends the ivory tower in which the harpsichord has traditionally been placed. Richard Morrison, The Times
A model recording for any instrument, not just the harpsichord. Concertos? Three, one by Gorecki, one by Geminiani, another by J.S. Bach, all weightily played by the Concerto Köln. Florid, stylish solo works? Two, both — like the Geminiani — based on the ancient “La Folia” theme, by Alessandro Scarlatti and C.P.E. Bach. Mesmerizing novelties? Of course: Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase,” rearranged and overdubbed for single harpsichord. Exhaustingly brilliant. David Allen, The New York Times
Lest we should think that the harpsichord exists merely to execute music of olden times, the brilliant young Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani here intersperses his Scarlatti and Bach with Henryk Górecki’s Harpsichord Concerto of 1980 and a harpsichord version of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase of 1967, originally conceived for two pianos…Esfahani at his vibrant and expressive best. Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph
Concerto Recording of the Month - BBC Music Magazine, April 2015
Listen to Extracts
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Complete Pièces de claveçin
What the reviewers say…
“A key factor in determining the longevity of an interpretation is the degree to which the performer succeeds in characterising the music and, on this point alone, top marks must go to Mahan Esfahani, who seems always to have its measure and brings unfailing wit, affection, fluency and pacing to his interpretations…Having just won a Gramophone Award for his superlative CPE Bach recording, Esfahani has surely trumped it with Rameau’s solo harpsichord works.” Julie Anne Sadie, Gramophone
“Mahan Esfahani’s second Hyperion recording comprises Rameau’s keyboard works. This is stylish playing but rarely showy, firm but never heavy in dance movements, imbued with a natural wit in the character pieces. I could easily have picked his delightful disc of C. P. E. Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas as well.”
David Allen, The New York Times
“Esfahani is the poet of the harpsichord. For people who don’t like harpsichordists he is the one that will convince you to listen. He’s such a beautiful player and he is totally natural. He understands the dramatics of each movement and he projects it and, for me, it is totally persuasive.” Richard Morrison, BBC CD Review
Hailed by Opera Today as ‘the leading harpsichordist of his generation’, Mahan Esfahani attracted worldwide attention in 2010 when he gave the first ever harpsichord recital at the BBC Proms. Dedicated to taking his instrument beyond the realm of ‘early music’, the critically acclaimed Iranian-American harpsichordist works with repertoire that spans four centuries.
For this recital Mahan turns his mind to Byrd’s keyboard miniatures, exploring the works’ vibrant ingenuity in company with the rich masterworks of Bach and the irresistible and fascinating compositions of Ligeti.
The Telegraph ‘168 Best Classical Music Recordings’: “So you think you hate the harpsichord? Iranian-born American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will make you think again. He makes the music so vivid you forget the instrument’s limitations.”
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) Württemberg Sonatas
Hyperion is delighted to present the debut recording of the wonderful young harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. He was the first harpsichordist to be named a BBC New Generation Artist or to be awarded a fellowship prize by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
Here Mahan Esfahani has recorded CPE Bach’s six ‘Württemberg’ sonatas, which were written in 1742-3 and published in 1744, and his thrillingly intense performances make the best possible case for this dramatic, beautifully written, endlessly imaginative but for some reason under-performed music. The sonatas range stylistically from initial stirrings of Sturm und Drang in keyboard music to sublime imitations of the human voice, with nods to the High Baroque and the idiom of CPE Bach’s more famous father. Mahan writes in his booklet notes that ‘Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach makes the most combative statement possible to assert his new musical language’.