BBC Music Magazine


★arpsichord­ist Mahan Esfahani on three rarities from his record collection


JS Bach Sonata for Violin and Harpsichor­d, BWV 1018

Leonid Kogan (violin),

Karl Richter (harpsichor­d)

Olympia MKM125

This is the only recording of the sonata that I can listen to nonstop. I’ve always been a big fan of Kogan; there’s a narrative quality to his playing that keeps me coming back. I can tell when a performer has embodied all of the pain that I think is in Bach’s music – all of that resignatio­n, that emotional surrender of the music is in Cogan’s tone. It’s the most moving Bach playing and I don’t know of a more beautiful recording of the first movement.

Franck Symphony in D minor

Concertgeb­ouw Orchestra/

Willem Mengelberg

Telefunken/legacy 8573830256 Mengelberg only did one recording of this and I think it was a radio broadcast. It’s a really great recording and the second movement, the Allegretto, features some incredible cor anglais playing. Franck was really specific in the score and Mengelberg is an example of someone who does everything that a composer doesn’t want yet comes up with an interpreta­tion that the composer surely would approve of. Somehow he achieves the spirit of the piece by breaking every rule in the score.

Rossini Armida

Maria Callas; Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/tullio Serafin Myto MCD00155

This is actually a live recording, from 1950 or 1951. It’s the first time that Rossini’s Armida was revived, and Maria Callas was at the height of her voice – not at the height of her career, which are two different things. It’s just priceless, and at the end when she sings the F, it’s like the world is crashing down – it’s incredible. I don’t know who was recording it, but you can hear people chatting and you feel like you’re in a post-war Italian opera house. It’s really alive. I listen to it once a year, so it’s a special recording. Mahan Esfahani’s album The Passinge Mesures is out now on Hyperion

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