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Little Missenden Festival: Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

Sunday October 13, 2019 at 15:00
St John the Baptist Church, Little Missenden
£22, £16, £8
Phone for tickets: 0333 666 3366 (from 5th August)
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Tickets "at the door" - until sold out
  1. Rain Dreaming - Toru Takemitsu
  2. Six Sonatas for cembalo - Lou Harrison
  3. The Passinge mesures, for harpsihord - William Byrd
  4. Will you walk the woods so wild - William Byrd
  5. Callino casturame - William Byrd
  6. Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la - William Byrd
  7. After Handel's Vesper, for harpsichord - Gavin Bryars
  8. Five sinfonias - Johann Sebastian Bach
  9. French Suite No 1 in D minor BWV 812 - Johann Sebastian Bach

The Virtuoso Harpsichord

The beauty, versatility and sheer exuberance of the harpsichord is demonstrated by a master of the instrument, Mahan Esfahani, during this programme of early masterpieces and modern experiments.

Takamitsu’s Rain Dreaming is one of a number of late works with water as the subject -- in his own words, ‘a sea of tonality’. American composer Lou Harrison was under the spell of the gamelan when he wrote these Six Sonatas in 1943. Harpsichordist Maggie Cole commissioned After Handel’s ‘Vesper’ from Gavin Bryars in 1998, which he said was written, ‘not in the sense of a motor scooter but meaning an evening thing’.

More than any other, Byrd was responsible for putting the harpsichord into the mainstream of English music. ‘He kindled English virginal music from the driest of dry wood to a splendid blaze’.

Bach wrote his 3-part Five Sinfonias as student guides to “achieve a singing style in playing”. However, their formal structure creates music of timeless beauty which demands the best of expert and student alike. Bach’s French Suites are inspired by the rhythms of the dance. They possess an immediate appeal and contain some of Bach’s most attractive keyboard writing.

Mahan Esfahani is a true virtuoso. A Borletti-Buitoni prize winner, three-time nominee for Gramophone Artist of the Year, and the only harpsichordist to become a BBC New Generation Artist, he can often be heard as commentator or host on BBC Radio 3 and 4.

“Esfahani has taken the musical world by storm with his creative programming, performing music by the usual suspects such as Bach, Couperin and Rameau, as well as modern composers such as Ligeti and Reich…Esfahani’s mastery of the harpsichord, including the essential ability to portray dynamics and emotion…is complete” The Straits Times

Concert dedicated to the memory of Michael Cox

St John the Baptist Church
Little Missenden
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