Concert Stream – Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord: Bach's Goldberg Variations

Mahan Esfahani shown wearing a red, brown, and yellow plaid jacket and holding brown hat to his chest

April 9, 2021 | 7:00PM

$15 | Free for UChicago Students

This concert premieres at 7 pm CDT on Friday, April 9 and will be available until 11:59 pm CDT on Sunday, April 11.

In the polarized world of classical music, where battles often rage over issues of interpretation and authenticity, Mahan Esfahani is the rare harpsichordist known for mesmerizing performances of both early music and contemporary repertoire. The acclaimed Persian American musician is an unapologetic champion of the harpsichord, devoted to restoring the Baroque mainstay to what he sees as its rightful place at the center of concert music.

Few pieces have received such varied and frequent interpretation as Bach's Goldberg Variations. Perhaps that is what makes this music so timeless. Glenn Gould's recordings on piano may be the most ubiquitous, but it is for the harpsichord that the work was originally written. Recorded in the Bach Archive in Leipzig—the city where Bach wrote this music 280 years ago—Esfahani applies his crisp articulation and a thrillingly dynamic style to the set. “[He] feels like the harpsichord’s answer to the young Gould—exuberant, antisentimental, bracing” (The New Yorker).

This performance is supported by a gift from James and Joan Shapiro.