Mahan Esfahani, Harpsichord

Thursday, March 23, 2017 | 8:00 pm

Nelson Music Room


In 2015, the young Iranian-American virtuoso Mahan Esfahani became the first harpsichordist to record for Deutsche Grammophon in more than three decades, with the venerable label calling him “a dynamic, daring musician who thinks way beyond the conventional boundaries of his instrument.” His album included not only performances of Baroque masters like Bach and Scarlatti, but also wildly unexpected modern composers like Górecki and Reich. “With his dazzling displays,” wrote the Times of London, “Esfahani is sweeping away the image of his instrument as an antique.”

That adventurous spirit also governs Esfahani’s concert for Duke Performances. The evening includes a propulsive Bach Toccata, as well as much newer fare like Steve Reich’s mind-bending work Piano Phase (with Esfahani playing live and on tape simultaneously). Esfahani not only unearths the elegant compositions of English Renaissance composers Tomkins and Farnaby, but dives into the twentieth-century experimentation of Viktor Kalabis and Kaija Saariaho.

Program

Henry Cowell: Set of Four
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan
Giles Farnaby: Woody-Cock
Viktor Kalabis: Three Aquarelles
Kaija Saariaho: Jardin Secret II
J.S. Bach: Toccata in C, BWV 911
Steve Reich: Piano Phase

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