Mahan Esfahani released new CD with Martinůs harpsichord concerto

The world known harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani releases new CD with harpsichord concertos of Bohuslav Martinů, Hans Krása and Viktor Kalabis under the Hyperion Records label on 3rd of February 2023. The Concerto for Harpsichord and Small Orchestra, H 246 from 1935 was recorded by the Prague-based artist with Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alexander Liebreich.

More information and sales on the Hyperion Records website.

Mahan Esfahani on the Martinů’s concerto: „It should come as no surprise that Bohuslav Martinů wrote one of the finest concertos for the instrument. A country boy among Praguers (then, as now, a city whose denizens were given to greatly high opinions of themselves), a player of relatively modest faculty among his virtuoso contemporaries (such as Poulenc and Falla), a Czech among Parisians, a polytonalist among the conservatives and a tonalist among the avant-garde, and then a self-exiled artist in America and, finally, in Switzerland, the elusive world-wanderer was one of the twentieth century’s quintessential outsiders. It is often glibly stated that Martinů, famous even in his own time for having grown up in the watchtower of his hometown of Polička where his father was a town watchman, never quite let his thoughts leave the clouds among which he grew up. But the truth is really rather more complex and interesting than this, as his approach to neoclassicism reflects not so much the historicist anxieties of some of his contemporaries but rather a drive to almost reinvent music from within structures whose resemblance to old forms belies an instinctive approach to deconstructing tonality. The result, particularly in the works of the 1930s and ’40s in which he claimed an ostensible influence from the concerto grosso forms of the eighteenth century, is a musical language with a startling range of emotional states, and that sophisticated sense for irony and finely etched characterizations which, in artistic terms, amount to what we commonly call wit.“

Mahan Esfahani, photo Petra Hajská

Review by Erica Jeal for The Guardian: Esfahani makes sparks fly as ancient meets modern

„Bohuslav Martinů’s 1935 Concerto for Harpsichord and Small Orchestra begins in emphatically neoclassical style. Stravinsky springs to mind – yet his brittleness is largely bypassed by Martinů in favor of something softer-edged, playful yet sincere. The orchestra is tiny but there’s a lushness in Martinů’s use of it, and intrigue in the way he compares and contrasts the harpsichord with the ensemble’s piano: the two almost swap roles from where you would expect them to be in a more conventional concerto.“

Guy Rickards for The Gramophone: KALABIS; KRÁSA; MARTINŮ Harpsichord Concertos (Mahan Esfahani)

„Martinů’s Concerto is – just – the earliest work here, written in 1935 during his long sojourn in Paris. Martinů’s music almost always smiles good-naturedly, but in this beautifully nimble account it positively beams. The accompanying ensemble is relatively modest – eight strings, flute, bassoon and piano (played by Ivo Kahánek, no less) – but what other composer would create a chamber concerto for harpsichord with an orchestral piano nestling in the accompaniment? Esfahani and conductor Alexander Liebreich achieve a remarkably balanced, warm sound, each line and texture precise and needle-sharp. A much more satisfying experience than Robert Hill’s for Naxos (A/12).“

The CD was also listed in the Editor’s Choice – February 2023 of The Gramophone