Label blues: Harpsi-star quits DGmain
After three years of exclusivity on the yellow label, Mahan Esfahani is returning to boutique marque Hyperion.
Read the statement below. It’s a classic choice of staying in the main marketplace and making fewer records, or recording what you want for a small label with less muscle. The trouble is, you can’t have both.
MAHAN ESFAHANI RETURNS TO HYPERION
We are delighted to announce that harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani is resuming his recording relationship with Hyperion Records.
After two highly successful recordings for Deutsche Grammophon – Time Past and Time Present and J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations – Mahan’s decision to return to Hyperion will allow him to explore in depth several major strands which are important to him: pre-baroque, a major survey of the works of JS Bach, and contemporary repertoire including many pieces written especially for him. Mahan leaves Deutsche Grammophon on very good terms, with some future collaboration remaining a possibility.
Mahan’s previous recordings for Hyperion were greeted with great acclaim – the first, CPE Bach’s Württemburg Sonatas was the winner of the 2014 Gramophone Award (Instrumental category) – ‘Such virtuosity and disarming presentation suggests that Esfahani could inspire a whole new appreciation of the instrument’ (The Guardian); the second, Rameau’s Pièces de Clavecin, was shortlisted for the 2015 Gramophone Awards, was Limelight Magazine’s “Recording of the Month” in April 2015, and was in the New York Times’ “Best Classical Recordings of 2014” – ‘I don’t think I have heard a harpsichord sound as supple and rich in colours … Rameau’s five suites rank with the finest keyboard music of the first half of the 18th century, but they remain neglected by the side of masterpieces by Handel and Bach. Esfahani’s magnetic advocacy could change all that. His rhythmic verve, wide spectrum of tone colour and joie de vivre is evident throughout’ (The Sunday Times).
Mahan comments: ‘I’m so happy that my next solo album will be coming out with Hyperion Records, where I had previously issued two other discs before three years as an exclusive artist at Deutsche Grammophon. I’m proud of my work for DG, and I’d like to thank Angelika Meissner, Ute Fesquet and Clemens Trautmann for their support during my time there. I’m delighted however to “come back home” to Hyperion to pursue solo projects in early and contemporary music that I’ve been wanting to commit to for some time.
‘I play the harpsichord not only because I love this instrument but because I love its repertoire, much of which I still think is under-appreciated and under-loved. My first new project with Hyperion is a disc of works from the English virginalists of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. This is music which, to me at least, is only second in significance and timelessness to the music of J.S. Bach. It is the direct expression of a complex and rich culture which also produced Shakespeare himself – I would like to contribute to the idea that this is music that everyone should find inspiration in beyond a group of specialists.
‘I will also be pursuing a long-term project to record the harpsichord works of J. S. Bach over many years, starting with the Seven Toccatas (BWV 910-916) which I recorded earlier this month.
‘Hyperion’s commitment to modern and contemporary music is also deeply important to me, and together we plan to record John Cage’s iconic HPSCHD (which I will also perform at the Barbican in the coming season) as well as a disc of contemporary concertos, with much more on the horizon… Whilst I look back on my albums with Deutsche Grammophon with great fondness and appreciation, I now look forward to a fruitful and happy collaboration with the Hyperion family. It’s going to be a bright future for this instrument.”
Hyperion Records comments: ‘Few musicians can approach Mahan in terms of the flair, excitement and commitment they bring to a repertoire which spans an astonishing six centuries, and Hyperion is proud to be making recordings with him once again. It’s a real cause for celebration that Mahan’s albums of CPE Bach and Rameau—wonderful as both are—can now be seen as the first fruits of a long and rewarding partnership, and we’re looking forward very much to future award-winning releases from this remarkable harpsichordist. The first CD in the new relationship – “The Passinge-Mesures – Music of the English virginalists” – will be released on 2 November 2018.’