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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Mahan Esfahani: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

April 28, 2020 | Tom Huizenga -- The harpsichord is a beautiful but notoriously fussy instrument. After we wheeled one behind Bob Boilen's desk, it took the bulk of an hour to get the tuning just perfect for the very first Tiny Desk harpsichord recital. Given that our guest was Mahan Esfahani, the instrument's most ardent advocate, we were willing to wait.

Esfahani, who grew up near Washington, D.C., but is now based in Prague, chose a double manual harpsichord — meaning two keyboards. This one was built by specialists Barbara and Thomas Wolf in 1991, but is based on a famous French instrument from 1770.

The carefully selected repertoire began with classics: a pair of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, which share the same key but couldn't be more opposite in personality. With elaborate curlicue ornaments in both hands, the opening sonata presents a sober, regal outlook. Its partner is a flamboyant rocker, with the hands chasing each other across the two keyboards like a cat and mouse.

Esfahani made sure to also include a modern piece. Mel Powell's angular and slightly jazzy "Recitative and Toccata Percossa," from 1951, is a tour de force in this artist's hands. It drives home a point he likes to make — that while the harpsichord had its heyday in the 18th century, it's still a vibrant instrument and very much alive. "There are over 50 modern concertos for the harpsichord," he told the audience.

Returning to the baroque, Esfahani closed with a little-known chaconne by Johann Pachelbel. Its steady bassline and colorful variations were a pleasant reminder of the composer's one-hit claim to fame, "Pachelbel's Canon." Although the music stopped there, Esfahani's performance continued as he stayed for a while behind the desk, happily regaling the harpsichord-curious on the finer points of the instrument.

Domenico Scarlatti: "Sonata in D, K. 534"
Domenico Scarlatti: "Sonata in D, K. 535"
Mel Powell: "Recitative and Toccata Percossa"
Johann Pachelbel: "Chaconne"

Mahan Esfahani: harpsichord

Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Noelle Smith, Kara Frame; Creative director: Bob Boilen; Audio engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Melany Rochester, Shanti Hands; Editor: Melany Rochester; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Shanti Hands; Executive producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Kisha Ravi/NPR

Rondeau & Scarlatti

Jean Rondeau, the French harpsichordist, performs Domenico Scarlatti’s mercurial Sonata K. 175 A Minor: Allegro, offering a first taste of his new album, released on 19th October. It is devoted to 20 of Scarlatti’s endlessly inventive sonatas – he wrote some 550 of these compact, colourful and captivating works.


“When it comes to music, dishonesty simply has no place – there can be no falsity,” says Jean Rondeau. “Harpsichord repertoire is about unlocking a past language and figuring out how things were done back then – not so much about finding something new.”

Rondeau joue Scarlatti

Sonate K.141 en ré mineur de Domenico Scarlatti (1685 - 1757) interprétée au clavecin par Jean Rondeau.
Enregistrée en décembre 2012 sur un clavecin d'Anthony Sidey.
Son : Camille Frachet et Fabrice Chantôme.
Vidéo : Katie Baillot, Julia D'Artemare, Erwan Ricordeau et Victor Zébo.
Remerciements : Tapages pour les micros Neumann numériques et Pascal Geneix, Antelope audio France pour les horloges numériques Trinity et 10M

Scarlatti e o Memorial.

Sabia-se, desde início, que de Mafra iriam ficar só as pedras, da passarola nada... E, ah!, de Scarlatti a música, irmã das palavras, porque a música, mais próxima de deus, mais humana, resiste ao fogo das inquisições, voa. Mas o homem não, mesmo quando já se levantou do chão. Gera-se outra conjugação a cercá-lo e o homem não alcança romper o cerco que ele de si mesmo é.

Maria Almira Soares, "Memorial do Convento — um modo de narrar"