Having just had An Tran, a young Vietnamese guitarist with exceptional talent, featured on Six String Journal, I thought it would be wonderful to segue with a short review of his upcoming recording of Vietnamese music written and arranged for classical guitar, Stay, My Beloved.
There is perhaps no better way to experience a culture than to listen to its folk music. It evokes myth, stories, history, and landscape. An Tran’s magical playing does all of this from the first track of his recording. In The Legend of the Bamboo Child (Thanh Giong), An sets up his listener for an exceptional journey through Vietnam. This first arrangement by The-An Nguyen, both ambitious in scope and creativity, is a six movement piece dense with canonic motifs, a wide ranging palette of guitar effects, and strumming reminiscent of old stringed Vietnamese instruments, all woven together by solid and clear playing. And when the journey through the first track ends, a new one begins with the premiere recording of composer The-An Nguyen’s Lullaby, which was also written for An. And again, the landscape and fragrance of Vietnam are alive through ethereal harmonics, a poignant and expansive theme, and melancholically rich arpeggiations.
It is evident that An’s gifts go beyond just playing the guitar. Though it is easy to become seduced by the rich tone An extracts from his guitar or his obvious technical gifts, his talent as an interpreter is just as strong. His presentation of folk music through the classical guitar comes across naturally and as effortlessly as his facility on the instrument.
The recording proceeds through five more tracks, all equally captivating. During the last track Stay, My Beloved I realized that I had been transported for almost an hour to Vietnam and that, sadly, the welcomed journey was coming to an end. As the scenes unfolded so masterfully and beautifully throughout the listening experience I was grateful to be reminded, especially now, that there are still ways to travel to distant and beautiful places.
Stay, My Beloved is an album featuring all Vietnamese guitar music, distributed by Sony/The Orchard, available everywhere on April 18, 2020. Pre-Order available now.