Stunning Mix of Vietnamese Traditional Sounds and Classical Music

Tri Nguyen et le quatuor 'Ilios - Consonnances
Tri Nguyen et le quatuor ‘Ilios – Consonnances
Tri Nguyen et le quatuor ‘Ilios

Consonnances (Lunelios Tous LNL 888 1001, 2013)

Vietnamese composer, pianist and dan tranh player Tri Nguyen bridges two beautiful music traditions on his Consonnances album. Tri Nguyen is passionate about Vietnamese traditional music and is also a highly respected classical artist. Consonnances blends delightfully the folk sounds of Vietnam with a classical music string ensemble, creating truly exquisite music.

Althrough Tri Nguyen is also a pianist, throughout Consonnances he focuses on the dan tranh as his main solo instrument. The dan tranh is a 16-string zither derived from the Chinese guzheng.

Consonnances has moments of lively interplay as well as contemplative expression. It’s definitely a gorgeous crossover album that will appeal to both classical and world music fans.

The lineup on Consonnances includes Tri Nguyen on dan tranh, Dima Tsypkin on cello, Buynta Goryeva on violin, Iryna Topolnitska on violin and Alina Baba on viola.

Tri studied piano at age five and a half in Vietnam with French-trained teachers. After graduation from the Music Conservatory of Saigon, he continued his studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris with renowned instructors such as Jacques Lagarde, himself a former student of Marguerite Long and Clara Haskil ; then Ramzi Yassa , concert virtuoso trained in Moscow , with whom he discovered the great Russian school.

Born into an aristocratic family of South Vietnam strongly attached to its ancestral culture, his parents believed that studying the piano was not enough for his musical education, and found an elder dan tranh master to teach him how to play the instrument. The master turned out to be one of the last musicians who belonged to the old school of Vietnamese music, which is now endangered.

Therefore, from an early age, Tri Nguyen divided his time between two cultures. The piano represents his family’s opening to the Western world; the dan tranh signifies the importance of the ancient traditions of Vietnam.

The young musician received a multicultural education: American International School for his studies, private lessons on traditions and customs with elderly Vietnamese scholars at home. His parents aspired to make him the perfect Confucian “gentleman” who lives with his time practicing the four major arts. Music, chess, literature, painting, are the fundamental teachings Tri Nguyen received in addition to his daily curriculum at school.

It was very hard for me as a child, I had all these extra lessons at home, rehearsals, exercises … I could not go out and play as much as I would have wanted to with other children, but I think that thanks to all that, I feel so blessed today,” says Tri Nguyen.

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Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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