Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
January 2014

The neglect of CPE Bach (Johann Sebastian's second surviving son with his first wife, Barbara) can probably be pinned down to the long shadow cast by his father, and to the fact that he falls between two peaks of 18th-century music, the high baroque and the classical era of Haydn and Mozart. These wonderful, surprising and quirky sonatas date from seven or eight years before JS's death in 1750, yet their character seems inspired more by the experimental, flamboyant keyboard works of Domenico Scarlatti, the elder Bach's contemporary, than by those of the grand old man himself. French influences also come into play in the almost dramatic quality of Emanuel Bach's outer movements and in the operatic cantabile of his adagios and andantes. In this winning performance by the young American-Iranian harpsichordist, one is taken aback by the avant-garde effects and abrupt changes of tempo and mood. The sound of his instrument—a reproduction based on models by the Berlin court harpsichord-maker Michael Mietke (d 1719)—enjoys a wide-ranging spectrum of timbres in Esfahani's dexterous hands, but it is the verve of his allegros and the affecting pathos of his slow movements that mark him out as a special interpreter of this fascinating composer's music in his tercentenary year.

The Sunday Times