BBC Music Magazine Christmas 2018 Instrumental Choice
This sensational recital—featuring some of the greatest keyboard music to emerge from these islands—is the perfect vehicle for Mahan Esfahani’s abundant talents. His accompanying booklet notes are an added bonus, guaranteed to inform, illuminate and provoke by turns.
Performed for the most part on a double-manual harpsichord made by Robert Goble & Son, Oxford (1990), kindly loaned by Bob Robertson and based on an instrument made by Carl Conrad Fleischer, Hamburg (1710); tracks 12, 15, 18 & 19 performed on virginals made by Huw Saunders, London (1989), kindly loaned by Huw Saunders and a copy of an instrument made by Thomas White, Old Jewry, London (1642). The temperament used for the recording was quarter-comma meantone, a'=408Hz.
These works have sometimes been handled as trifles or decorative miniatures, but Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani treats them as profoundly expressive and introspective works. Here measured, there free, his readings highlight the ebb and flow of their poetry and prose; phrases are rhetorically articulated. BBC *****
Esfahani’s playing is colourful and magnetic, the fingerwork in the more virtuoso works absolutely clean and articulate. The mean-tone tuning gives the accidentals and chromatic outliers in the more harmonically meandering of the pieces a wonderfully piquant twang. Gramophone