Mahan Esfahani, Passinge Mesures

In the introduction to his First Book of Songs or Ayresof 1597, John Dowland writes of “this skilful and curious age”. Looking back now on the Elizabethan age, one reads “curious” in both senses of the word. Especially when confronted with the mysterious music contained on this latest recording from that most skilful and curious – again, in both senses of the latter word – of musicians, Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani.

Indeed, in a booklet essay (easily worth the price alone), Esfahani remembers an early encounter with the music of the English virginalists and how he chose to play it “because I was fascinated by the...

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