Mahan Esfahani’s CPE Bach disc BBC ‘Recording of the Month’

20 January 2014

Mahan Esfahani’s CD of CPE Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas recorded on the Hyperion label has garnered stunning reviews across the board. His first solo disc to be released, it has been named BBC Music Magazine ‘Recording of the Month’ in the journal’s February issue, as well as Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’ and The Sunday Times ‘Album of the Week’.

Featuring six sonatas by the lesser-known Bach, Mahan describes how he chose to record these works when he noticed that the composer was 28 – the age Mahan was at the time of recording – when he composed them.

Released to celebrate the 300th anniversary of CPE Bach’s birth, Hugh Canning writes “The sound of his instrument — a reproduction based on models by the Berlin court harpsichord-maker Michael Mietke (d.1719) — enjoys a wide-ranging spectrum of timbres in Esfahani’s dexterous hands, but it is the verve of his allegros and the affecting pathos of his slow movements that mark him out as a special interpreter of this fascinating composer’s music in his tercentenary year” (The Sunday Times). Andrew Clements comments further: “Esfahani’s performances wonderfully convey the sense of the younger Bach flexing his muscles in the new musical language that he was involved in creating. The instrument Esfahani plays them on, a modern copy of a harpsichord from the beginning of the 18th century, and the way it is tuned, seem to emphasise the transitional feel of the music, too; there’s an almost fortepiano-like solidity to the sound, with crisp definition in both the high and low registers that matches its expressive ambitions perfectly” (The Guardian).

Reviewing for Sinfini Music Jessica Duchen writes “Mahan Esfahani here plays six fine early sonatas, delivered with glitter and glamour on the harpsichord. His intelligence, flair and freshness make the music leap off the page into powerful life. There’s a conviction here that demands recognition of the rebel Bach’s still underrated genius” ( Describing in great depth the “most expressive” and “charming” movements of several of the sonatas, George Pratt concludes: “This, his first solo disc, provides a particularly welcome introduction onto the world stage for an artist matching, in ‘expression’, CPE Bach himself” (BBC Music Magazine).

For Gramophone, David Vickers writes ““The elusive fusion of thematic intricacy, ‘Baroque’ rhetoric and ‘proto-Classical’ Sturm und Drang offered by the instrument are caught perfectly by Esfahani’s supple touch and disarming sense of rhetorical pacing.”

To read the full reviews from The Sunday Times and BBC Music Magazine click on the titles.

Mahan’s CD is available to purchase in shops and online. For more information please visit the Hyperion website.

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