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Stephen Francis Vasta
Positive Feedback Online, September 2019

Tra Nguyen has been working her way through Raff’s piano music for HNH’s “Grand Piano” imprint. She’s a stylish, technically assured soloist: dazzling in the flourishes, articulate in the passage work, and capable of changing moods on a dime. Her resounding bass octaves in the Caprice are assertive without becoming overbearing; a bit later, her melodic octaves, surprisingly, are equally powerful.

Kerry Stratton, an indefatigable advocate for neglected but worthy composers, offers his soloist persuasive, characterful podium support. … The Prague Radio players are responsive and sensitive… © 2019 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review



Peter Burwasser
Fanfare, July 2018

I can imagine this release being of interest to those with an especially keen admiration for large-scale Romantic compositions. For anyone else, this is an interesting case of shifting fashions… By the way, the performances and recording are very good. © 2018 Fanfare  Read complete review



Records International, December 2017

Offered for the 15-minute Caprice on themes from Raff’s own opera of 1849. Raff wrote 41 of these opera paraphrases but this is the only one whose source is not another composer’s work. As with most efforts in this genre, it combines sumptuous lyricism with passionate virtuosity and, somehow, escapred inclusion in this pianist’s six volumes of Raff’s solo piano music which also came out of the Grand Piano label. © 2017 Records International



Michel Dutrieue
Stretto, November 2017

This is undoubtedly one of the most convincing Raff recordings in recent years. Everything impresses. Tra Nguyen’s technical mastery and feeling for Raff’s music has never been so convincing, and Kerry Stratton and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra not only offer solid to robust support, Stratton also brings every detail of Raff’s refined orchestration to the fore. Highly recommended. © 2017 Stretto



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2017

I go back many years when Michael Ponti’s recording of Raff’s Piano Concerto introduced me to this highly enjoyable score, a work I have much loved ever since. That disc was followed by less wilful interpretations of the score, while this new one from the British-Vietnamese pianist, Tra Nguyen, follows on from her much acclaimed solo piano music of Raff issued on six Grand Piano releases. Having been largely self-taught, he was turned forty before his music first captured public attention with his First Symphony. Quite soon he was being preferred to Beethoven, while his works for the keyboard drew reviews that placed him akin to Chopin and Mendelssohn. His fame was to be short-lived, and by the 1940’s he had almost been totally forgotten, the recording industry, looking for something new to release, gave him a new lease of life. His main problem had always been to find readily memorable thematic material, and, as we hear in the Ode au Printemps, he substitutes pages of charming filigree for the pianist to weave a web around an orchestra whose score is of pastoral beauty. Indeed Raff seems happiest in a quiet and uneventful world of music, often introducing solo passages of great beauty. That continues in the Concerto’s first movement which is rather short of dynamic contrasts. The lengthy central movement that follows is aimed at creating pleasures in the late nineteenth century style, the warm and lengthy orchestral theme being at its heart. Introducing the timpani—given solo status by the recording engineer—adds impact to a vivacious finale that rounds off the work in ebullient happiness. Completing the disc we have a Caprice on Themes from König Alfred, an opera by Raff that had a particularly short life. Immaculate Czech recording for the piano and orchestra part of the disc, with the Canadian conductor, Kerry Stratton obtaining fine playing from his Prague musicians. We finally move to London’s Henry Wood Hall for the Caprice for solo piano. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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