Mahan Esfahani’s “hugely stimulating” Goldberg Variations released by DG

26 September 2016

Mahan Esfahani’s recording of Bach’s seminal work the Goldberg Variations has been released by Deutsche Grammophon to great critical acclaim. Lauded by the international press, his interpretation has been described as “brilliant”, “stimulating” and “one of the best”.

Writing in The Observer, Nicholas Kenyon comments:

“Everyone wants to record Bach’s Goldbergs, but not many show as much piercing insight as harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. The surprises begin at once with a slightly simplified Aria and then some unusual tempi – the canons at the unison, third and octave are slow – and an unevenly tempered tuning for the harpsichord. Esfahani shows amazing rhythmic freedom at times, sometimes teasing us with a long pause before a repeat starts. The final sequence of variations 26 to 29 accumulates brilliant excitement, after which the folk songs of variation 30 are a touching relaxation, and the Aria finally emerges intact. A hugely stimulating account of one of the peaks of western music.”

The Dutch music critic Sandra Kooke notes “[Mahan] makes the harpsichord sing and achieves endless variation in the sound” (Trouw), whilst the Australian critic Richard Gate writes:

“Esfahani’s recording of the Goldberg Variations must be one of the best of that widely recorded work. He elicits a beautiful silvery tone from the harpsichord. His virtuosity is astonishing in the more rapid passages. His tempi are sensible – not too slow in slow sections nor exaggeratedly fast in the quicker sections… His rhythmic control is excellent. In all respects, his playing fully reveals the greatness of this masterpiece of Bach.” - Fine Music Magazine

Elsewhere, American crit David Patrick Stearns comments: “Rarely have a harpsichordist’s two hands had such minds of their own, periodically threatening to go their separate ways, creating much inner tension. Add to that Esfahani’s brilliant finger work and flexible tempos, and you have a performance that won’t let go of your ears.” -

To complement all of these glowing reviews, Mahan’s recording has been named to the long list for the prestigious Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, a truly remarkable achievement and one which adds to an already substantial list of previous nominations and awards. Furthermore, in the week ending 1st September the album came in at number one in the official classical chart of the UK’s best-selling specialist classical releases according to BBC Music Magazine, which noted: “Straight to the top of the chart, Mahan Esfahani’s recording of this perennial favourite is unmissable”.

To read more about this recording, listen to excerpts, and to order a copy please click here.

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