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Brandon Patrick George performing with Mahan Esfahani

A Scrumptious Feast

Dreary damp November weather certainly did not dampen the mood inside Shepherd King Lutheran Church. The ample audience at the November 12 concert was treated to a brilliant all-Bach performance by flutist Brandon Patrick George and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. One instantly felt the presence of real perfection when these two musicians took the stage and began to play. They are two consummate musicians whose artistry and cohesion as chamber musicians was a thrill to hear. It was as if they read each other’s thoughts. Every extended melisma of J.S. Bach’s marvelous sonatas, every change of mood or tempo was played with complete clarity and finesse. Chamber music at its finest!

The venue was a new one for the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, and one thoughtfully chosen for its attributes. It was felt these particular instruments (especially the harpsichord) require an intimate yet resonant acoustical space, and Shepherd King Lutheran Church filled the bill beautifully. The wooden chancel area “stage” was raised, creating a resonant hollow space below which amplified and rounded out the sound just enough.

Brandon Patrick George entered the stage with a broad smile and wearing a stunning purple shirt. After the concert in casual conversation with audience members, he called it “his Prince shirt” in homage to Prince’s “Purple Rain” and one of his favorite contemporary singer/songwriters. He plays a gorgeous rose-gold flute. Brandon spoke of his love of music composed for the flute and of his hope to record and perform all of Bach’s flute sonatas. The program consisted of three J.S. Bach sonatas and two by J.S.’s composer son, C.P.E. Bach, all played with stunning brilliance and musicality. After the standing ovation the duo finished off the program with an encore, J. S. Bach’s Sicilienne, a lovely balm after all the virtuosic fireworks of the final Presto on the program.

The beautiful instrument played by Esfahani was made by San Antonio harpsichord maker Gerald Self. Gerald has been producing top-notch custom-made harpsichords from scratch since 1972 and has supplied harpsichords for hundreds of concerts throughout the Southwest. Mahan Esfahani loved Self’s instrument. His total mastery of the instrument most certainly solidified his reputation as one of, if not the leading harpsichordist of our day.

Many audience members stayed long after the concert to meet and chat with the musicians. All in all, it was a scrumptious feast for all who love Baroque music.

–Ms. Treble