"What distinguishes Esfahani's playing is the range of colours that he is able to extract from his instrument. There is light and shade, there is tension and free flow, there is focused directness or meandering exploration. And given that he is playing an instrument whose notes have no intrinsic sustain, Esfahani spins an extraordinary cantabile." - Recital at Wigmore Hall, BACHTRACK, February 10, 2018

"The trills and embellishments of Byrd’s Pavane “Passing Measures” didn’t come across like mere decoration; rather, Esfahani’s deft touch molded them into a flowing lyricism that moved from one voice in the texture to another. When Bach’s Toccata in F-sharp Minor turned toward melody, Esfahani’s supple tempos let the music breathe; the gentle rise and fall of momentum kept the lines alive and meaningful." - Recital at Da Camera of Houston, TEXAS CLASSICAL REVIEW, December 13, 2017

"He worked his way through the cadenza with several varieties of rubato, taking the forward-looking chromatic passage at warp speed, setting the continuo pace elsewhere with crispness and bounce." - Brandenburg Concertos with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, LA TIMES, December 12, 2017

"The variations move in gentle swells, with the long, dark 25th variation an immersion in a tremendous emotional wave. The entry into the quodlibet is surprisingly soft, the whole passage played with delicate lucidity, following which the return to the aria generates an emotional peak, caressing and electrifying." - Bach's Goldberg Variations CD review, HAARETZ, August 30 2017

"He seems to be on a mission to demonstrate the expressiveness of his instrument – and judging by his remarkably fluid, fresh, almost improvisatory playing and rhythmic suppleness, he’s pretty much succeeded. Three short pieces by d’Anglebert, harpsichordist to Louis XIV, were almost top-heavy in their elaborate decoration, dispatched with utter conviction. A Sonata in E flat by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, JS’s eldest son, was a glorious oddity of early Classicism, with a breathlessly and shamelessly virtuosic finale that Esfahani relished." - Recital at Edinburgh International Festival, THE SCOTSMAN, August 17, 2017

"Esfahani’s Goldbergs were a deeply human experience, brimming with humour and wit, cool objectivity, deep tragedy and startling joy. He managed a near miraculous balance in injecting each piece with its own vivid character, yet shaping their succession into a meaningful journey." - Goldberg Variations at Paxton Festival, THE SCOTSMAN, July 18, 2017

"This is one of those heavenly melodic solos that abound in Bach’s works, more often for voice, violin or oboe, and in this instance over a repetitive six-note bass figure. Esfahani gave the two repeated final notes such a variety of timings – here slightly rushed, there lingering and delayed – that the feel behind the lovely melody in the right hand was one of wistful hesitancy. It set up the Presto finale beautifully, this being taken at breathless speed with a suspicion of Baroque barrelhouse in the left hand." - Recital at Utzon Music Series at Sydney Opera House, LIMELIGHT, May 1, 2017

"Tender Andante emotions were caught in lilting melodies and Esfahani's melancholic rubato, while Poulenc's final irrepressible reel, delivered with flying fingers and bittersweet tangs, ended with the composer's best joke - a gentle, piercing woodwind clash, followed by the harpsichord's final pianissimo minor chord." - Poulenc's Concert Champetre with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, NEW ZEALAND HERALD, April 1, 2017

"Yet even the most disparaging listener could only have admired Mr. Esfahani’s discipline and close concentration as he moved out of phase with the taped performance in minuscule increments and then, ever so slowly, drifted back in. The ovation was intense and seemingly universal." - Recital at the 92nd Street Y, THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 22, 2017

"Mr. Esfahani left nothing to be desired, and so very much to be admired. Thanks to the informative program notes by David Wright, we discovered that the harpsichord cannot be forced to be louder or softer, as a piano can. Rather, effects are produced by skills at tempo, articulation, and massing notes, if players had what was called the touch. Our soloist definitely possessed this “touch” to an astonishing degree. Effortless cascading curtains of sound surrounded our ears." - Recital at McCarter Theatre Center, PHINDIE, March 21, 2017

"The Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani is one of a kind, and his event with the Britten Sinfonia under Thomas Gould’s leadership – plus contralto Claudia Huckle – was fruitfully provocative." - Performance with the Britten Sinfonia, THE INDEPENDENT, February 5, 2017

"Esfahani was the easily agile soloist in that concerto, too, and he also contributed a group of four sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (Italian by birth, Spanish by adoption), which he dispatched with almost nonchalant brilliance." - Francisco Coll's Harpsichord Concerto with the Britten Sinfonia, THE GUARDIAN, February 5, 2017

"True, the colours on a harpsichord are generally primary but here one missed no variety in the expression; as Bach threads together a maze of contrapuntal lines, so Esfahani’s playing follows every trail and every rabbit hole, each voice firmly articulated. If there had been a rerun, I would have grabbed a different ball of thread and seen where that would have taken me. Bach’s music is very often mesmerising. It’s very rarely this fun." - Goldberg Variations at Wigmore Hall, THE TIMES December 22, 2016

"Esfahani makes the most of his harpsichord’s range of timbres, embellishes repeats and invests each variation with its own personality.

Nothing, though, feels exaggerated. Nothing is showing-off for its own sake. (4/5 stars)" - CD Review, J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations, GRAMOPHONE, November 18, 2016

"...[Mahan] takes you on an arresting journey through Bach’s Goldberg Variations, where his sophisticated virtuosity, stylistic aplomb and strong personal profile give fresh and meaningful voice to this well-travelled score. His navigation of the music’s structure (with all repeats intact, including those in the Aria da capo) is carefully considered without sounding in the least bit studied, or different for the sake of being different." - CD Review, J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations, GRAMOPHONE, November 2016

"Plucky virtuoso Mahan Esfahani is seekign to change the perception that the harpsichord should not be associated with avant garde music." Bach, Scarlatti, and Steve Reich at the San Francisco Performances' Pivot series, EXAMINER, October 4, 2016

(Five Stars) "Everyone wants to record Bach’s Goldbergs, but not many show as much piercing insight as harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. The surprises begin at once with a slightly simplified Aria and then some unusual tempi – the canons at the unison, third and octave are slow – and an unevenly tempered tuning for the harpsichord. Esfahani shows amazing rhythmic freedom at times, sometimes teasing us with a long pause before a repeat starts. The final sequence of variations 26 to 29 accumulates brilliant excitement, after which the folk songs of variation 30 are a touching relaxation, and the Aria finally emerges intact. A hugely stimulating account of one of the peaks of western music." - Bach: Goldberg Variations CD review, THE GUARDIAN, September 18, 2016

"After a couple of name changes (it was, for a long time, the Lufthansa festival), the London Festival of Baroque Music now has a clear identity as a platform for ambitious exploration of the 17th and 18th century beyond the Monteverdi, Bach and Handel mainstream, though with plenty of that ilk too. This year’s theme is “The Word” and the way instrumental repertoire reflected the lyrical qualities of the human voice. This allowed the harpsichordist extraordinaire Mahan Esfahani to construct a quirky programme with help from the tenor Thomas Hobbs. Esfahani, if you don’t know him already, approaches concerts with an impromptu flourish and some in-built randomness: not in his virtuosic playing but in the rest of the proceedings. It keeps you alert, which is not always true of an evening of harpsichord music. From a rich offering of the largely unfamiliar, the Sonata II, “Of Saul, Whom David Cured by Means of Music” (1700) by Johann Kuhnau stood out: flamboyant, expressive and ingenious." - Frescobaldi to Froberger and Cabezón to J. S. Bach at the London Festival of Baroque Music, THE GUARDIAN, May 22, 2016

“A model recording for any instrument, not just the harpsichord... Exhaustingly brilliant.“   - CD: Time Present and Time Past, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 20, 2015

“Now he emerges as a superstar whose musicianship, imagination, virtuosity, cultural breath and charisma far transcends the ivory tower in which the harpsichord has traditionally been placed.“   - CD: Time Present and Time Past w/ Deutsche Grammophon, THE TIMES, May 8, 2015

“Mahan Esfahani’s second Hyperion recording comprises Rameau’s keyboard works. This is stylish playing but rarely showy, firm but never heavy in dance movements, imbued with a natural wit in the character pieces. I could easily have picked his delightful disc of C. P. E. Bach’s Württemberg Sonatas as well.“   - NEW YORK TIMES Classical Critics Pick the Top Music Recordings of 2014, December 18, 2014

“More rewarding was Mr. Esfahani’s excellent performance of five Scarlatti sonatas, beginning with an elegant rendition of the Sonata in F minor. Mr. Esfahani demonstrated impressive technique during the Sonata in G and again during the rapid-fire Sonata in D minor.“   - Recital at the Frick Collection, THE NEW YORK TIMES, April 2, 2012