38-year-old Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has become the youngest ever recipient of the Wigmore Medal. In recognition of his outstanding musical achievements and contribution to Wigmore Hall, Esfahani received the medal last night from Wigmore Hall director John Gilhooly. The presentation followed Esfahani’s performance of JS Bach’s Art of Fugue, a landmark concert in his Bach cycle for Wigmore Hall which began in 2017.
The Wigmore Medal was inaugurated in 2007 and recognises major international artists and significant figures in the classical music world who have a strong association with the Hall. Mahan Esfahani made his London debut at Wigmore Hall in 2009 as a concerto soloist with The English Concert. His ongoing Bach cycle at the Hall has spanned several seasons and persevered through a global pandemic. Most recently he brought to the Hall’s stage Bach’s French Suites, Fantasias, and Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier.
Other recent performances at Wigmore Hall have seen him join forces with oboist Nicholas Daniel, flautist Adam Walker, horn player Benjamin Goldscheider and cellist Isang Enders for an evening of 20th- and 21st-century rarities by Debussy, Elliott Carter and Thomas Adès. Esfahani gave the London premiere of Laurence Osborn’s Automaton for harpsichord and chamber ensemble with the Britten Sinfonia on Wigmore Hall’s stage in 2019.
Mahan Esfahani returns to Wigmore Hall on 25 February 2023 with a performance of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book II.
Mahan Esfahani says, ‘Wigmore Hall’s support of my ambitions and career has been crucial from the very beginning of my professional life; it is a great honour for me to receive this sign of confidence in my work from one of the great halls of the world, in its greatest city.’
The citation for the Wigmore Medal award read, ‘Mahan Esfahani is now quite rightly recognised for his outstanding qualities as one of the world’s pre-eminent harpsichordists. Mahan is particularly known for his exceptional performances across a very wide range of repertoire. He is a performer of star quality, whether playing ancient or modern works – many of them newly commissioned by him. And he is a musician of strikingly broad intellectual interests: he challenges preconceptions of what a harpsichord recital can be. His unstinting advocacy for the instrument has been nothing short of extraordinary.’
Past recipients of the Wigmore Medal include Iestyn Davies, Christian Gerhaher, Angela Hewitt, Steven Isserlis, Dame Felicity Lott, Menahem Pressler, Thomas Quasthoff, Sir András Schiff and the Takács Quartet.