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Mahan Esfahani - Bach: Goldberg Variations

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Bach: Goldberg Variations

Mahan Esfahani

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The Bach performances of harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani are never boring and often fascinating. He has a way of using his instrument, here a contemporary version of a 1710 Thuringian harpsichord, to evoke a wide range of extramusical associations, and during a live performance of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, he offered as an encore not another piece of music but a reading from Horace. One may be forgiven for thinking that this much-anticipated Goldberg Variations recording, released as Esfahani began a five-year traversal of Bach's music at London's Wigmore Hall, gets away from him a bit even as it displays the utterly distinctive thinking of the performer. Start with the booklet, where Esfahani begins with a pointless defense of the veracity of Johann Nikolaus Forkel's account of the sleepless Russian Count Goldberg that gave the variations their name: Bach was said to have been asked to write variations that were then requested by the Count at his bedtime, presumably singly. The grand conceptions of the individual variations, explored by Esfahani in the booklet and excitingly realized at the keyboard, might be thought more likely to jolt the Count awake than to put him to sleep, and in general this is a Goldberg Variations that impresses more in its individual parts than in the whole. Esfahani speaks disdainfully of numerological interpretations of the score, which is perhaps understandable, but balance is as much a part of the score as distinctive evocative detail, and it gets lost in Esfahani's interpretation. Sample Variation 24, the canon at the octave, which Esfahani likens to "the grand ensemble of horns and strings" at the beginning of the Cantata No. 65, "Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen," BWV 65: it may be ringing and stirring, but it is less clearly linked to its surroundings, to say nothing of the snoozing Goldberg, than one would like. Nevertheless, for bold thinking on the harpsichord, Esfahani can't be beat; he may be slightly better live than on recordings, and this is certainly a major new statement concerning the Goldberg Variations.
© TiVo

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Bach: Goldberg Variations

Mahan Esfahani

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Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

1
Aria
00:03:49

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

2
Variatio 1 a 1 Clav.
00:02:01

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

3
Variatio 2 a 1 Clav.
00:01:24

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

4
Variatio 3 a 1 Clav. Canone all'Unisono
00:02:38

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

5
Variatio 4 a 1 Clav.
00:01:08

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

6
Variatio 5 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
00:01:32

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

7
Variatio 6 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Seconda
00:01:09

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

8
Variatio 7 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
00:01:50

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

9
Variatio 8 a 2 Clav.
00:02:02

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

10
Variatio 9 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Terza
00:02:26

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

11
Variatio 10 a 1 Clav. Fugetta
00:01:35

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

12
Variatio 11 a 2 Clav.
00:01:58

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

13
Variatio 12 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quarta
00:02:22

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

14
Variatio 13 a 2 Clav.
00:05:01

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

15
Variatio 14 a 2 Clav.
00:02:06

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

16
Variatio 15 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quinta
00:04:19

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

17
Variatio 16 a 1 Clav. Ouverture
00:03:05

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

18
Variatio 17 a 2 Clav.
00:01:54

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

19
Variatio 18 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Sexta
00:01:35

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

20
Variatio 19 a 1 Clav.
00:01:12

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

21
Variatio 20 a 2 Clav.
00:02:02

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

22
Variatio 21 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Settima
00:02:46

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

23
Variatio 22 a 1 Clav.
00:01:32

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

24
Variatio 23 a 2 Clav.
00:02:21

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

25
Variatio 24 a 1 Clav. Canone all'Ottava
00:03:41

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

26
Variatio 25 a 2 Clav.
00:06:45

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

27
Variatio 26 a 2 Clav.
00:01:57

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

28
Variatio 27 a 2 Clav. Canone alla Nona
00:01:43

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

29
Variatio 28 a 2 Clav.
00:02:21

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

30
Variatio 29 a 1 ovvero 2 Clav.
00:02:09

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

31
Variatio 30 a 1 Clav. Quodlibet
00:01:49

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

32
Aria da capo e fine
00:04:11

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Morawietz, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christoph Claßen, Producer

℗ 2016 Deutschlandradio / Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Album Description

The Bach performances of harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani are never boring and often fascinating. He has a way of using his instrument, here a contemporary version of a 1710 Thuringian harpsichord, to evoke a wide range of extramusical associations, and during a live performance of the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, he offered as an encore not another piece of music but a reading from Horace. One may be forgiven for thinking that this much-anticipated Goldberg Variations recording, released as Esfahani began a five-year traversal of Bach's music at London's Wigmore Hall, gets away from him a bit even as it displays the utterly distinctive thinking of the performer. Start with the booklet, where Esfahani begins with a pointless defense of the veracity of Johann Nikolaus Forkel's account of the sleepless Russian Count Goldberg that gave the variations their name: Bach was said to have been asked to write variations that were then requested by the Count at his bedtime, presumably singly. The grand conceptions of the individual variations, explored by Esfahani in the booklet and excitingly realized at the keyboard, might be thought more likely to jolt the Count awake than to put him to sleep, and in general this is a Goldberg Variations that impresses more in its individual parts than in the whole. Esfahani speaks disdainfully of numerological interpretations of the score, which is perhaps understandable, but balance is as much a part of the score as distinctive evocative detail, and it gets lost in Esfahani's interpretation. Sample Variation 24, the canon at the octave, which Esfahani likens to "the grand ensemble of horns and strings" at the beginning of the Cantata No. 65, "Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen," BWV 65: it may be ringing and stirring, but it is less clearly linked to its surroundings, to say nothing of the snoozing Goldberg, than one would like. Nevertheless, for bold thinking on the harpsichord, Esfahani can't be beat; he may be slightly better live than on recordings, and this is certainly a major new statement concerning the Goldberg Variations.
© TiVo

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