A pianist with an impressive combination of poetry and power – the first impression I received from Tra Nguyen has not changed. It was unfortunate that I could not see the elegant movements of her fingers from where I was seated, but I could hear Tra's subtle and sensitive keyboard touch. This evening's programme was Clementi's Sonata in F sharp minor and Beethoven's Sonata in D major then, after the interval, Raff's Ballade and Chopin's Sonata No. 3; as far as I can see, she likes to balance her programming with core repertoire and lesser-known works, by which she introduced the composer Joachim Raff to our society this evening.
The first movement of Clementi's Sonata has such melodic passages; I am very fond of this movement. It was acutely and elegantly executed with clear trills and steady sounds. The slow second movement was moving and touching, which was followed by a contrasting Presto, concluding this Sonata.
Beethoven's Sonata required more power and stamina, of course. It had four movements but I must say my favourite was the third, Menuetto. The gentle, melodious and lyrical theme was played very cutely and made such a contrast to the dark mood of the previous movement. The trio section was wonderfully light hearted. Beethoven is the most popular composer among pianists who have visited Breinton; his various sonatas have been performed here and I've liked all of them. I used to think Beethoven sonatas were awfully boring – how dare I?
In contrast to Beethoven, no musician before had played Joaquim Raff. I believe not many knew about or had heard of this composer until Tra introduced him to us. I heard this particular piece Ballade played by her at the 1901 Arts Club, about which I had written previously. The beginning section, Andantino, was lovely. It suited Tra's imaginative and expressive playing.
I love Chopin's piano Sonatas – I think both No.2 and No.3 are stunning works, and I am so glad that Tra included one of them! I adore all four movements, but this evening the 3rd movement Largo was Tra's best shot. Now that No. 3 Sonata has been played, we shall await someone to play No. 2!
An encore was Schumann's Arabesque. Now this beautiful piece has been played by three different pianists at Breinton – do you remember all of them? Our neighbour Adrian remembered really well! He said that every pianist played differently with their own interpretation, and I completely agree. It has been played by Christopher Devine, Timothy End and Tra!
The British-Vietnamese pianist Tra Nguyen has been hailed as an artist whose readings are "deeply thoughtful" and who holds the capacity to captivate the audience with her "impressive combination of power and poetry". Her recent orchestral recording debut of romantic Swiss - German composer Joachim Raff's Suite for Piano and Orchestra has been received with superlative reviews and was chosen as Album of the Week by The Independent, March 2010.
- Clementi: Sonata in F Sharp minor Op. 25 No. 5
- Beethoven: Sonata in D major Op. 10 No. 3
- Raff: Ballade from Drei Klavier-Soli Op. 74
- Chopin: Sonata in B minor Op. 58