Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani

As a little boy of eight Mahan Esfahani saw in a book, the image of a portly man with wig and frock coat, who played an unusual musical instrument with two manuals. It was love at first sight. "Bach appeared so different, so exotic. I had never heard a harpsichord. My father laughed and said it was a dead instrument. But me it was packed."

Two decades later, the harpsichord is the life's work of this Iranian-American boy - who was in Tehran to the world, grew up in Washington DC and now lives in London. As one of the world's leading harpsichordist he is now generally accepted. And with its 30 years, he is also one of the youngest. On 11 May 2015 Esfahanis first recording fOr German Grammophon appears: Time Past and Present Time. Inspired by the poems of T. S. Eliot, pays this album harpsichord tribute "as an instrument that spans all ages and styles". The program includes not only works of baroque composers of the 17th and 18th centuries (Scarlatti, Bach, Handel), but also the minimalists of the 20th century (Gorecki, Reich).

It is the result of an appeal, which began on the day on which Esfahani as a young boy discovered that image. The next day he went to the local library to see harpsichord marks. Then he listened to a cassette.

"When I heard them, I immediately thought:" That's me, just as I can express myself - that's what I want to play, and that in this way "".

He began to collect cassettes, CDs and records, and listened to everything he could find. With eleven years - he was already a good piano and organ player - he heard at a performance of Handel Messiah the first time a harpsichord live. He got permission to go on the podium and to touch the instrument. This experience kindled his passion to continue.

"I knew that was exactly what I wanted. But I thought that I would never have to the a possibility would."
His parents - a musician and a painter who had left Iran when Mahan was four years old, and were now employed by the US government - had other ideas for her only son. He began to study medicine at Stanford University, but switched after two weeks to law before moving again, this time to musicology, notably because the faculty had a harpsichord and there taught the professor emeritus George Houle. Houle became his mentor and encouraged him to pursue a career as a professional harpsichordist.

"I took lessons and spent all my free time in the harpsichord-room. I had a key and played throughout the night. At home I listened to all the recordings on which I could see, they played at half speed, made comments in the notes and saw me on YouTube harpsichordist at. If harpsichordist came to San Francisco, I took lessons from them, and I spent my vacation with courses. I was obsessed completely. "

After graduating in 2005, he went to Boston, where he studied daily two and a half years with Peter Watchorn, the last pupils of the great Viennese harpsichordist Isolde Ahlgrimm. Esfahani wanted to go to Europe and received a scholarship to study at Lorenzo Ghielmi organ, he also worked as an accompanist for opera singers in Florence and Milan. In a recital in Tuscany, he was invited in 2007, the funding program of the BBC "New Generation Artists" participate. It first moved to Oxford and then to London, he gave 2009 his solo debut at the Wigmore Hall and in 2011 a historic harpsichord solo recital at the BBC Proms. Esfahani studied further in Prague in the famous Zuzana RUZičKova. She was the first harpsichordist he ever heard - as a child on a Scarlatti-cassette - and still is his biggest role model.

"An absolute legend. You taught me what it means to live a life as an artist, full dedication and commitment and genuine love for what you do. I really owe her everything."
The dedication and commitment are reflected in his ascetic lifestyle. Esfahani gets up early and goes to bed late. Tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are there for him now taboo. He spends his days at home in South London with practice, and it reads late into the night Russian literature. He is firmly convinced that we should love classical music fOr their legacy and not try to make it trendy.

"I am very proud to play classical music, and I apologize for it never," he explains. "But I think that people should not think that they are stupid, just because they are not given access I will not brook." Call mate "and talk about his 20 children; it's okay to see him as an old man with wig . the people in the 18th century were different, and there is no need to try to make them look modern. All this stuff from his cool and make the iPhone a photo of the audience, because it's so hip, and put it on Twitter - that brings everything Absolutely nothing Concerning this music Many fashions and fads and personal characteristics come to the time in the background, but what is timeless, which is -. and Bach's timeless My ultimate goal is that people hear why this. instrument is so overwhelming and why this music is so overwhelming.

And for those who think like his father, the harpsichord was a "dead instrument", Esfahani has an answer: He gives them free tickets.

"I want that people put their prejudices and, if they come from a concert, saying:" You know what - the harpsichord's beautiful, "And they do.".
Tim Cooper
2/2015

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