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Mary Kunz Goldman
The Buffalo News, June 2015

I like how Grand Piano discs explore the byways of the piano literature. They come out with fascinating discs. There is some lovely music here, and pianist Tra Nguyen plays it with admirable loveliness. And anyone who can write music at this level of competence clearly has a genius IQ. Nguyen is passionate about the music…[and] Raff sounds pretty interesting. © 2015 The Buffalo News Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2015

The sixth and final volume in this survey of the music by the Swiss-born composer, Joachim Raff, most of the contents receiving their world premiere recordings. Having lived his early life in poverty, much of that period being spent in the Liszt household acting as the distinguished composer’s amanuensis. Then came a remarkable change in fortune, his symphonic output by the time of his death being in many quarters enjoyed in preference to Beethoven. In his considerable output for the keyboard, the obvious influence of Chopin and Mendelssohn at times resulted in works that are readily likeable. As this disc shows, he was happiest in a quiet and uneventful world, his few moments of drama seemingly superimposed. We gently flow along the waterways of Venice in the six sections of Erinnerung an Venedig, a series of holiday snapshots ending in a jovial dance. Barcarolle is in a similar mode, its seven minutes of amiable note-spinning spent in search of a memorable melody. Fantaisie, also from the same period, has more substance, and there is a likeable melody buried under a profusion of notes that require much dexterity in the fingers of the performer. Turning to the Six Poemes, written while still young—and scrutinised by Liszt—and we have works very worthy of preserving. There are many differing moods, the passion of the opening poem driving the work forward as we pass through a vivacious scherzo, a Swiss song, and arriving finally at a dazzlingly fast Presto. Throughout the series the British-Vietnamese pianist, Tra Nguyen, has shown her obvious enjoyment and affection for the composer, and we thank her for her many enjoyable discoveries. © 2015 David’s Review Corner





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