The portrait of John Bull on the cover of this two-CD U.S. release gives an idea for the uninitiated of what to expect from the composer's music: it's intense, single-minded, and even a bit demonic (although the hourglass topped with a skull with a bone in its mouth is apparently an alchemical symbol). Bull was, in the words of an unidentified writer quoted by harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, "the Liszt of the virginals." The most immediately apparent feature of his music is extreme virtuosity, on display especially in the mind-boggling set of variations entitled Walsingham (CD 1, track 8) and in the galliards of the pavan-galliard pairs. But the opposite pole in Bull's style exerts just as strong a pull: he is fascinated by strict polyphony by what would be called harmonic progressions, and by the close study of the implications contained within small musical units. As spectacular in their way as the keyboard fireworks are, the three separate settings of a tune called Why Ask You? on CD 2 are marvelous explorations of compressed musical gestures.
Gramophone-Award-winning harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has recorded Rameau's Pièces de clavecin in the historic setting of the Music Room at Hatchlands Park in Surrey. This is a masterclass for the instrument, confirming this young artist as a truly great player: in the words of International Record Review his technique is beyond criticism and his inherent musicianship goes far deeper than mere surface understanding it is difficult not to warm to such a musician'. This double album comprises the whole of Rameau's output of keyboard suites, and Esfahani rejoices in its wealth of genius, its excitement and drama. Rameau is a composer whose revival is ongoing, and his unique combination of the witty and the cerebral, the light and the curmudgeonly, abounds throughout his harpsichord music.
Mahan Esfahani’s new album“Time Present and Time Past” is an eclectic programme fusing Baroque with Minimalism – and the first harpsichord album DG has released in over 30 years! Gramophone Award winner Mahan explores the relationship between two musical genres which are 300 years apart, yet emphasizing its similarities by playing all pieces on period instruments – which has never been done before with the Reich and Gorecki pieces.
Hyperion is delighted to present the debut recording of the wonderful young harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. He was the first harpsichordist to be named a BBC New Generation Artist or to be awarded a fellowship prize by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.