The world known harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani releases new CD with harpsichord concertos of Bohuslav Martinů, Hans Krása and Viktor Kalabis under the Hyperion Records label on 3rd of February 2023. The Concerto for Harpsichord and String Orchestra, op. 42 from 1975 was recorded by the Prague-based artist with Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alexander Liebreich.

More information and sales on the Hyperion Records website.

Mahan Esfahani on the Kalabis’ concerto: „Of the three works on this recording—indeed, of all modern harpsichord works—Viktor Kalabis’s 1975 Koncert pro cembalo a smyčcový orchestr, Op 42, is the most personal. It certainly has an intense personal connection for me—I was, after all, the last student of the work’s dedicatee, who was herself the wife of the composer. But more to the point, this concerto, more than any other work by Kalabis, reflects the most personal, even ineffable qualities of his deeply romantic relationship with Zuzana Růžičková. As she herself told it, Viktor was the person who more than any other saved her from the trauma of the concentration camps (where she would have coincided briefly with Hans Krása in Auschwitz) by forcing her not only to speak about it, but to confront the nation of her tormentors by returning to Germany, where in 1956 she won the ARD competition in Munich and began an illustrious performing and recording career spanning five decades.“

Review by Erica Jeal for The Guardian: Esfahani makes sparks fly as ancient meets modern

„There’s a sense that Martinů and Krása both had fun writing their pieces, whereas the concerto Viktor Kalabis composed in 1975 for his wife, Zuzana Růžičková – Esfahani’s teacher – was something he had to write. This has the scope of a grand piano concerto, and between two expansively driven movements there’s a bleak, wide-open slow one in which time stops. In all three works, Esfahani’s unfussy yet attention-grabbing playing strikes sparks off the musicians of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and their conductor, Alexander Liebreich.“

Guy Rickards for The Gramophone: KALABIS; KRÁSA; MARTINŮ Harpsichord Concertos (Mahan Esfahani)

„Spot on well describes the final and largest item here, Viktor Kalabis’s 1975 Concerto for his wife (and Esfahani’s teacher and mentor), the late, great Zuzana RůŽičková. Esfahani writes so movingly in the booklet of the composer and this most personal of his works, and it is magnificently played, every bit as splendid as RůŽičková’s and Kalabis’s own account (Supraphon, 7/13) – but with finer sound – and more than a match for Jory Vinikour’s fine if occasionally more cautious rival (Cedille, 10/19). Here, as throughout, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra’s accompaniment is sensitive and ideal, and Esfahani plays like an angel.“

The CD was also listed in the Editor’s Choice – February 2023 of The Gramophone


Mahan Esfahani, photo Petra Hajská