Friday, 21 April 2017

Harpsichordists at War

At the risk of coming off like another, more salacious music blog, I bring news of an astonishing broadside fired between harpsichordists. I don’t much care for the harpsichord and its repertoire, but the rapid rise of Mahan Esfahani hasn’t escaped the notice of my twitter timeline. He added to his trophy cabinet with victory in the BBC Music Magazine Awards’ instrumental category for his DG Goldberg Variations, but it seems his high public profile has not been universally popular among colleagues. An interview with Van Magazine this month led to a blistering response from fellow period-keyboardist Andreas Staier, who’s clearly been holding it in for a while:

“He’d sell his soul for a little publicity. A little calm would be much better. But he can’t afford it. His fame and his career have more to do with his words than with his music.”

There’s a lot more, which you can read here. It’s a patient and careful takedown from someone who really knows what he’s talking about that – though it’s certain Esfahani won’t see it like that. What piqued my interest particularly, though, was his criticism of the classical music press:

“The press is at fault here too. In none of the interviews I cited was a single critical follow-up question asked. And the media has such a short attention span that contradictory and inconsistent statements are ignored even if they occur within just weeks of one other.”

I’ll no doubt sound like yet another blog if I dwell for long on the media-PR complex that constitutes the vast majority of words written about classical music, but suffice it to say, Staier has a very valid point.

Now, I promise not to live-tweet the ensuing historically-informed flame war.

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