"...this is a long way from being a ‘complete works’ series, but it does give a taster of the considerable genius of a composer ... Nguyen is clearly aware of Raff’s historical lineage and imbues his music with what seems like the perfect dynamic of energy, drama, light and pathos. Her excellent technique and expressive flexibility—for example, demonstrating restraint where another might turn to melodrama—combine to produce interpretations that will long serve as a yardstick against which future performers must measure themselves.
Byzantion - MusicWeb-International.com - October 2012
"The works appearing in Volume 1 all date from his early years in Weimar. Fruhlingsboten (Harbingers of Spring) is a cycle of 12 movements with such individual titles as ‘Hibernation’, ‘Good Tidings’, and ‘Evening’. They are clearly in the Schumann-Brahms mold and are essentially free of rhetoric and empty virtuosity. No. 6, ‘Confusion’, turns out to be a fugue and points out Raff’s interest in structure and form. If the suite rarely tugs at the heart, it is still impressive for clarity of expression. 3 Piano Solos, Op. 74 are substantial structures and make a beautiful grouping. The ‘Ballade’ has a sweep and passion redolent of the mature composer at his best. The Scherzo has a Mendelssohn-like delicacy and moves in will-o-the-wisp fashion towards its sparkling conclusion. The final ‘Metamorphosen’ is considered one of his best piano works. Its modified variation structure is gloriously varied, superbly played, and well worth the price of the disc... this is a substantial work with some amazing passages and considerable substance. The playing is of a beguiling loveliness, the recording has richness and depth, and the music, a revelation, makes one eager for the next volume."
Alan Becker - American Record Guide - July 2012
RAFF, J.: Piano Works, Vol. 1 (Tra Nguyen) GP 0602
RAFF, J.: Piano Works, Vol. 2 (Tra Nguyen) GP 0612
"...[Nguyen] gives powerfully persuasive performances of the…Drei Klavier-Soli, Op 74: lasting nearly half an hour, its Ballade, Scherzo and ‘Metamorphosen’ ... are well worth exploring. The Fantaisie in B major which follows is a real discovery in two senses: the manuscript turned up in 2010 buried among some unrelated Liszt organ works; and its beautifully melodic material (another Raff characteristic), constantly transformed by Chopinesque and Lisztian figurations, is dispatched with an assured touch and subtle colouring by Nguyen. Vol 2 is arguably even more consistently interesting, beginning with the three thematically linked movements of the Fantaisie-Sonate of 1871, dedicated to Saint-Saëns and surely worth a place in the regular concert repertoire. Tra Nguyen makes the best possible case for all these works and has been well recorded on a splendidly voiced Steinway at Wyastone."
Jeremy Nicholas - Gramophone magazine - October 2012
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