“Flipping stereotypes is one way of characterizing the remarkable career of [harpsichordist] Mahan Esfahani, who makes his Seattle Symphony debut Jan. 11 and 12 as the soloist in a program juxtaposing two generations of the Bach family,” writes Thomas May in Friday’s (1/11) Seattle Times. “The Iranian-born musician, 34, has indeed been the lightning rod for numerous controversies—including a concert in Cologne in 2016 where he [performed] music by the American minimalist composer Steve Reich transcribed for harpsichord.… Esfahani says he enjoyed working with Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony so much on their recording of Henri Dutilleux’s orchestral works that he jumped at the chance to make his live debut with the orchestra. The fact that the program comprises entirely 18th-century music might seem typical for a harpsichordist. But it’s unusual in Esfahani’s case: about 60 percent of the music he plays comes from modern composers. Just a few days after his Seattle engagement, his schedule takes him to London for an evening of harpsichord and electronics. ‘Given the choice, I would rather collaborate with modern orchestras,’ he explains, ‘because they’re versatile and can play modern music, but also because you can reach a wider audience.’ ”

Posted January 11, 2019