Time Present and Time Past – Works by Alessandro Scarlatti, Górecki, CPE Bach, Geminiani, Reich & JS Bach

Reviewed on Mon 24 Aug, 2015

The selling point here is the juxtaposition of two minimalist pieces with the more traditional sounds of Bach, Alessandro Scarlatti and Geminiani. Esfahani multi-tracks himself on Reich’s Piano Phase, which on two harpsichords becomes uncannily reminiscent of The Who’s 'Baba O’Reilly'.

The almost ubiquitous Mahan Esfahani has now popped up on Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv label with what threatens to be a curate’s egg of a recital – that is if you like your eggs half-Baroque (“broke”, geddit?). The selling point here is the juxtaposition of two minimalist pieces with the more traditional sounds of Bach, Alessandro Scarlatti and Geminiani. Górecki’s 1980 two-movement Harpsichord Concerto is described by one YouTube commentator as “Brutalism meets Bach. Bach loses”, which at least pithily captures something about the sheer relentlessness of this music, even if here soloist and Concerto Köln manage to take the edge off its harshest textures. Esfahani multi-tracks himself on Reich’s Piano Phase, which on two harpsichords becomes uncannily reminiscent of The Who’s 'Baba O’Reilly'. There’s no doubting that Esfahani is steering his instrument in fascinating new directions, though whether all these pieces belong on the same album is something each listener will have to decide.
–Mark Walker