CCMS • Mahan Esfahani and Hille Perl

Among the artists who are well known to both Czech and foreign audience is the harpsichordist of Iranian origin living in Prague, Mahan Esfahani, who is joining with gamba player Hille Perl in preparing a programme largely devoted to the music of the Bach family.

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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Sonata in G Minor for harpsichord and viola da gamba, Wq 88

Carl Friedrich Abel
Solos for viola da gamba (from the Drexel manuscript)

Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata in D Major for viola da gamba and harpsichord, BWV 2018

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Sonata in D Major for harpsichord, Fk 3

Christoph Schaffrath
Sonata in A Major for viola da gamba and harpsichord, CSWV  F:29

Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata in G Minor for viola da gamba and harpsichord, BWV 1029


Mahan Esfahani harpsichord

Hille Perl viola da gamba

Photo illustrating the event CCMS Mahan Esfahani and Hille Perl

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Mahan Esfahani  harpsichord
Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani has made it his life's mission to rehabilitate the harpsichord in the mainstream of concert instruments, and to that end his creative programming and work 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 (2008-2010), a Borletti-Buitoni prize winner (2009), and a nominee for Gramophone's Artist of the Year (2014, 2015, and 2017). His commissioning work includes new solo and concertante works from George Lewis, Bent Sorensen, Anahita Abbasi, Sunleif Rasmussen, Daniel Kidane, Harold Meltzer, Elena Kats-Chernin, Miroslav Srnka, and others.

His 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, Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, Berlin Konzerthaus, Zurich Tonhalle, Wiener Konzerthaus, the 92nd St Y, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Cologne Philharmonie, Edinburgh International Festival, Al Bustan Festival, and the Leipzig Bach Festival, and concerto appearances with the Chicago Symphony, Ensemble Modern, BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Orchestra La Scintilla, Montreal’s Les Violons du Roy, Hamburg Symphony, Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

His richly-varied discography includes seven critically-acclaimed recordings for Hyperion and Deutsche Grammophon – garnering one Gramophone award, two BBC Music Magazine Awards, a Diapason d’Or and ‘Choc de Classica’ in France, and an ICMA.

Mahan Esfahani studied musicology and history at Stanford University where he first came into contact with the harpsichord in the class of Elaine Thornburgh before completing his formation under the celebrated Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková.

Hille Perl  viola da gamba
Hille Perl

Hille Perl, born in Bremen/Germany, is considered to be one of the world's finest viola da gamba players. For more than 30 years she has been helping to bring viol music in Germany, Europe and far beyond into focus. Critics praise "her virtuoso playing full of passion, seriousness and lightness" as well as her talent for improvisation.

Hille Perl decided to play the viola da gamba after hearing a Wieland Kuijken concert at a very young age, when she was five. Since then music is the foremost means of communication between human beings for her, more precise and intense and unmistakable than language, of greater emotional significance than any other experience besides love. To her, music is a means of connecting not only the past and the future but also a way of socially integrating the most conflicting aspects of existence.

Perl has specialized in Spanish, Italian, German, solo and ensemble music of the 17th and 18th centuries, playing the treble viol, the seven-string bass viol, Baroque guitar and Lirone. With her instruments Perl travels the world, playing concerts with different groups or soloizing. She has founded several ensembles, including the Sirius Viols and Los Otros.

Perl recorded many CDs which have earned wide critical acclaim and many prizes, including several German ECHO Klassik Awards and a Deutsche Schallplattenpreis. A couple of years ago she started playing an electric viol, first as an experience for herself, then in concert and finally, she recorded a CD, “Born to be mild” (Sony), together with her daughter Marthe Perl and her long-term musical partner Lee Santana.

In 2017, Perl had her on-screen acting debut in Academy Award-winning Austrian director’s grim family drama/social commentary film, “Happy End.”

When not on tour Perl lives on a farm in northern Germany with her family and some sheep, geese, chickens, three cats and two dogs, lots of trees and also grows vegetables.

She passionately teaches her students at the University of the Arts in Bremen, Germany, everything she knows about music, playing the gamba, and how not to be jealous if someone plays better than you.

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