Tra Ngyuen Excels with Borenstein Piano Works

I first became aware of Tra Nguyen through her traversal of Joachim Raff’s piano music. Her exceptional technique and nuanced reading of Raff’s music made me a fan. I wondered what she would do next. After auditioning this release, I think it’s the next logical step. 

Borenstein writes in what I would call an accessible post-tonal style. That is, his music is tonal, but it’s not hemmed in. Modern ears are comfortable with harmonic progressions and key relationships that were last century no-nos. Borenstein’s music has a natural flow to it.

And his use of tonality makes his compositions extremely accessible. I would almost say welcoming to the listener. It’s a mystery why his music is so in demand.

One of Borenstein’s style characteristics is his use of polyrhythms. Come to think of it, it was one of Raff’s signature gestures, too. Nguyen takes the right approach to them. She plays the polyrhythms with precision. We hear the intended tension between the patterns. At the same time, she plays them expressively, giving them a melodic purpose. 

Most of the works receive their world recording premiere with this release. Nguyen’s playing is first-rate. She delivers exciting, engaged performances. They made me want to revisit this release time and again. 

Highly recommended, both for the quality of the music, and the quality of the performances. Nguyen wrote that Borenstein’s music was “inspirational and rewarding.” I can hear it in her playing. 

Nimrod Borenstein: Piano Works
Tra Nguyen, piano
Grand Piano GP851

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