That question mark in the title certainly implies a lot. On the one level, it’s referring to a piece on the disc, but on another, it’s Esfahani the pugilist, fighting for the harpsichord’s place in contemporary music-making; he says in the notes that one inspiration for making this recording was the audience members who “over the years, booed, cat-called, and/or walked out of halls worldwide in anger and confusion (in other words, fear)” during performances of these works. He concludes, “be assured, my friends, that much more of this is on its way”. That question mark, then, is Esfahani sending a message to the members of his audience who don’t want to engage with “difficult” music, and daring them to ask – is this music? Well, the answer is pretty easy. This is a brilliant, refreshing, and powerful disc that re-positions the harpsichord as a vital part of modern music-making.
The disc opens with Toru Takemitsu’s Rain Dreaming, part of both Takemitsu’s “Waterscape” series and “dream and number” works. Beginning with consonant single notes, they’re soon contrasted by the sprinkling of dissonant raindrops before being overtaken by chordal material.