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While this might not be the moment that all of us have been waiting for, it’s certainly titillating to catalogue another casualty report in the Harpsichord Wars. In March, Mahan Esfahani hurled a set of observations (some say accusations) against the mainstream harpsichord world, among them shortsightedness, conservatism, as well as a pervasive fear of […]

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Adding To The Pantheon

I met the keyboard player and early music savant Ton Koopman one wan, gray morning in the northern German city of Lübeck, where he was performing in a festival dedicated to the baroque organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude. He wore a dark blue blazer, a light blue shirt, round glasses, and pants the color of […]

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Cross Pollination

Recently, I spoke with the keyboardist Kristian Bezuidenhout by phone. His demeanor was gentle without being apologetic: while ironing his shirts, he talked about the music of Bach with immense sincerity. But his programming often includes music by other composers, particularly Bach’s contemporaries. I was interested to find out why. VAN: In an upcoming concert, […]

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Patchwork History

Andreas Staier was born in 1955 in Göttingen, Germany. He was the harpsichordist for Musica Antiqua Köln for three years and has performed as a Hammerklavier and harpsichord soloist with all the major early music ensembles. In this article, he responds to the controversial VAN interview with Mahan Esfahani from April 6, 2017. By now […]

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Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani was born in Tehran in 1984. Known increasingly for his dynamic programs combining 20th and 21st century works with music from the 16th-18th centuries, his approach to the instrument stands out in contrast to the traditional associations of the harpsichord with the historical performance movement. But that’s not all he talked […]

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Moderate Anarchy

The Belgian baroque violinist, violoncello da spalla player, and conductor Sigiswald Kuijken was born in 1944 near Brussels. His way of playing early music makes the continuing modern-style performances of many works seem, at least to my ears, completely irrelevant.When I reached out to Kuijken to ask if he’d like to be interviewed, he wrote […]

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Round-number anniversaries of composers’ births and deaths can often feel arbitrary, excuses to keep programming the same music. Not Monteverdi’s 450th birth year. His operas are universal, important reminders that us humans have always had the same struggles, that we’ve been here before: 450 is a number that puts things in perspective. The conductor John […]

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