Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
J.S. BACH: Sonata No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1014
VIKTOR KALABIS: Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord
LESTER ST. LOUIS: New Work
C.P.E. BACH: Sonata in B minor
WALTER PISTON: Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord
About This Performance
Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, who made his SF Performances debut three years ago, shatters musty stereotypes of the baroque keyboard with violinist Stefan Jackiw in a program surveying 300+ years of music that puts the harpsichord in an entirely new light.
Mahan Esfahani has made it his life’s mission to rehabilitate the harpsichord in the mainstream of concert instruments.
To that end, his creative programming and track record in commissioning new works have drawn the attention of critics and audiences across Europe, Asia, and North America. He was the first and only harpsichordist to be a BBC New Generation Artist (2008-10), a Borletti-Buitoni prize winner (2009), and a nominee for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year (2014, 2015, and 2017).
Esfahani’s work for the harpsichord has resulted in recitals in most of the major series and concert halls, amongst them London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre, Oji Hall in Tokyo, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Shanghai Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Recital Centre, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Berlin Konzerthaus, Zurich Tonhalle, Wiener Konzerthaus, San Francisco Performances, the 92nd St Y, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Cologne Philharmonie, Edinburgh International Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Madrid’s Fundacio Juan March, Bergen Festival, Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Dialoge Festival at the Salzburg Mozarteum, Al Bustan Festival in Beirut, Jerusalem Arts Festival, and the Leipzig Bach Festival.
He has made concerto appearances with the Chicago Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Czech Radio Symphony, Orquesta de Navarra, Malta Philharmonic, Aarhus Symphony, Hamburg Symphony, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, with whom he was an artistic partner for 2016–18.
Recent highlights include his Carnegie Hall and Wiener Musikverein debuts, residencies with both the RLPO and the Royal Northern Sinfonia, premieres by George Lewis (for the Miller Theatre at Columbia University) and Miroslav Srnka (for Contempuls Prague), the Asian premiere of Michael Nyman’s Harpsichord Concerto at Tokyo’s Sumida Triphony Hall, an evening of new works for electronics and harpsichord at the Barbican, and the continuation of a multi-year project of the complete keyboard works of J.S. Bach for Wigmore Hall, with whom he has enjoyed an association since he made his debut there in 2009.
His richly-varied discography includes three critically-acclaimed recordings for Hyperion—the C.P.E. Bach Württemberg Sonatas garnering a 2014 Gramophone Award and the Complete Pièces de Clavecin of Rameau being nominated both for a Gramophone and being named in the New York Times Critics’ List of Top Recordings of 2014, and an autumn 2018 release, The Passinge Mesures marking his return to the label, and two albums for Deutsche Grammophon. The first for DG, Time Present and Time Past, garnered a ‘Choc de Classica’ in France, while the latest of Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations was released in August 2016 to praise from the British and foreign press, most notably being named to the long list for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and winning the BBC Music Magazine 2017 Instrumental Award.
He has also recorded Dutilleux with the Seattle Symphony under Ludovic Morlot and an album for Wigmore Hall Live, which again was honoured with a Gramophone nomination. A recording of Corelli with the legendary Michala Petri—a particularly important duo to his own heart—was awarded an ICMA in 2016.
Esfahani studied musicology and history at Stanford University and studied harpsichord in Boston with Peter Watchorn before completing his formation under the celebrated Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková. Following a three-year stint as Artist-in-Residence at New College, Oxford, he continues his academic associations as an honorary member at Keble College, Oxford, and as professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
He can be frequently heard as a commentator on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and as a host for such programs as Record Review, Building a Library, and Sunday Feature; for the latter program he is currently at work on his third radio documentary following three popular programmes on such subjects as the history of African-American composers in the classical sphere and the development of orchestral music in Azerbaijan.
Esfahani was born in Tehran in 1984 and raised in the United States. He lived in Milan and then London for several years, before taking up residence in Prague.
Stefan Jackiw is one of America’s foremost violinists, captivating audiences with playing that combines poetry and purity with an impeccable technique. Hailed for playing of "uncommon musical substance" that is “striking for its intelligence and sensitivity” (Boston Globe), Jackiw has appeared as soloist with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras, among others.
This season, highlights include performances of the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Dallas Symphony, under Juraj Valčuha, and the Minnesota Orchestra, under Ilyich Rivas. He also returns to the Utah, Omaha, and Kansas City Symphonies, and in Europe, tours with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, and performs with the Residentie Orkest, Copenhagen Philharmonic, and the Helsinki Philharmonic. Further afield, he appears with the Singapore Symphony and Tasmanian Symphony, and returns to Korea to perform with the KBS Symphony Orchestra.
In recital, Jackiw performs the complete Ives Violin Sonatas with Jeremy Denk at the Tanglewood Festival, ahead of their upcoming recording of the works for Nonesuch Records. He also joins the acclaimed pianist alongside Benjamin Beilman, and Pamela Frank, in performances of the Mozart Violin Sonatas both at Carnegie Hall and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Jackiw will also appear in recital with Conrad Tao playing works by Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, Saariaho, and Brahms.
Last season, following their performance of Korngold with the Cleveland Orchestra, Jackiw reunited with Valčuha for performances with the Detroit Symphony and Luxembourg Philharmonic. He also made his debut with the National Symphony in Washington, DC, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto with Marek Janowski. In recital, he appeared on tour throughout the US, with performances in Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia, and with the Boston Celebrity Series. Abroad, Stefan appeared on tour performing the Tchaikovsky Concerto with l’Orchestre National d’Île-de-France in Europe and Asia, which included his debut at the Philharmonie de Paris. He also returned to the Bournemouth Symphony playing Korngold with Andrew Litton, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, performing Tchaikovsky with Residentie Orkest.
Highlights of recent seasons include a performance of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall with Mikhail Pletnev, as part of a multi-city tour with the Russian National Orchestra; as well as performances with the St. Louis Symphony under Nicholas McGegan, the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Indianapolis Symphony under Krzysztof Urbanski, and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Valčuha. Other highlights in Europe included his performances Netherland Radio Symphony and Ludovic Morlot at the Concertgebouw. In Asia, Stefan recently appeared for the first time with the Tokyo Symphony at Suntory Hall under the direction of Krzysztof Urbanski, and returned to the Seoul Philharmonic under Venzago. He also toured Korea, playing chamber music with Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica. In Australia, Stefan toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra play-directing Mendelssohn. He also gave the world premiere of American composer David Fulmer’s Violin Concerto No. 2 “Jubilant Arcs”, written for him and commissioned by the Heidelberg Festival with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie under Matthias Pintscher. Recitals included his performance of the complete Brahms violin sonatas at the Aspen Festival, which he has recorded for Sony. He also recorded the Beethoven Triple with Inon Barnatan, Alisa Weilerstein, Alan Gilbert and Academy St. Martin in the Fields.
Jackiw is also an active recitalist and chamber musician. He has performed in numerous important festivals and concert series, including the Aspen Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, and Caramoor International Music Festival, the Celebrity Series of Boston, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Washington Performing Arts Society and the Louvre Recital Series in Paris. As a chamber musician, Jackiw has collaborated with such artists as Jeremy Denk, Steven Isserlis, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gil Shaham, and forms a trio with Jay Campbell and Conrad Tao. At the opening night of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in New York, Jackiw was the only young artist invited to perform, playing alongside such artists as Emanuel Ax, Renée Fleming, Evgeny Kissin, and James Levine.
Born to physicist parents of Korean and German descent, Stefan Jackiw began playing the violin at the age of four. His teachers have included Zinaida Gilels, Michèle Auclair, and Donald Weilerstein. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, as well as an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory, and is the recipient of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. He lives in New York City.