From Renaissance to Reich: Mahan Esfahani, harpshichord

William Byrd: Pavan and Galliard ‘The Passing Measures’
Toru Takemitsu: Rain Dreaming
Henry Cowell: Set of Four
Viktor Kalabis: Three Aquarelles
Kaija Saariaho: Jardin Secret II
J.S. Bach: Toccata in f#-minor, BWV 910
Steve Reich: Piano Phase

Mahan Esfahani has almost single-handedly reintroduced the harpsichord into the mainstream of concert life. The Iranian-American musician was honored in 2015 with the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer of the Year award and was nominated in three categories for the Gramophone Awards – Best Baroque Instrumental, Best Instrumental and Artist of the Year. His imaginative approach proves that the harpsichord is an instrument for today, not only relevant but even revolutionary, with concerts often juxtaposing early music with works that are modern and even avant-garde. His recital ranges from the English Renaissance to a new version of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase.

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“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.” —The Times

“Other than the distance of time, which only our linear conceptions of history have transformed into anxieties about the “dead” and “alive,” there is really no difference between, say, a cross-relation in a cadence from [Renaissance composer] Farnaby and the incredible range of colors emanating from the ambiguity between semitones and whole tones in [today’s Kaija] Saariaho.” – Mahan Esfahani