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!