KVT – Tri Minh Magic at Manzi

KVT – Tri Minh Magic at Manzi

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KVT in ambient mood

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On Friday night Tri Minh, one of my favorite composers and musicians, presented a salon type recital of his soundscape music on a sparkling grand piano accompanied by some intriguing digital equipment.

Usually I listen to Tri Minh’s compositions when they are played by himself and a group of extremely talented musicians so a solo performance was an exciting prospect. I’d missed him at this year’s Soundstuff Festival, the annual international sound fest that he co-organizes, and at a recent ‘Chula Music Night, so I was keen to get back into the Tri Minh groove.

I frequently listen to his ‘Hanoi Love Stories’, evocative ambient soundscapes a clip of one track: 

A really excellent example of his composing (and playing) can be seen in this presentation of his 2013 piece, ‘The Sound We See: A Hanoi City Symphony’ in a superb live performance at Goethe as a super 8 film of images was screened behind. One of the very best music events in Hanoi this Year

Just about every day I take a young dog called Oc on a long walk along the Duong River…. sometimes in early mornings when barges murmur and chug through  mists, or in the hour before dusk when the sun is a red ball sinking into the mud tinged flow. Oc bounds like a gazelle through banana plantations, across patches of peanut plants, plunges into butterfly infested long grass and between stalks of waving corn. Farmers chatter, rusty bikes creak, kids swim in the shallows at a ferry landing on sultry evenings, birds sing.

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I could record this landscape on camera or get an artist to paint a version of it, but ideally I’d like a Tri Minh sounscape to preserve the magic for me. He’d be able to capture it all

perfectly…. as he did on Friday night with a sensitive piece composed mid morning near a lake in Lenin Park after the morning crowds had departed and left him with lapping water, breeze through leaves, a  distant mumble of traffic and the occasional passer by.

During the recital Tri Minh presented a few new compositions of his trademark soundscapes with my favorite being ‘Dong Xuan Market’ which immediately had me in amongst the spices and dried fish and other good stuff in the pungently aromatic back section of the market dawdling, through the scents towards the vendor who sells me small bags of aromatic ground pepper.

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It’s a piece he will present soon in Berlin.

You may think by all of the preceding that Tri Minh only composes gorgeously soft, environmental, ambient stuff that is both evocative and sensual and just made for sensuous lovers and embroidered with notes that bring to my mind recent piano sonatas of Phillip Glass. But he’s also at home with the fast and furious that has your feet tapping and the blood surging in your ears. ‘Hanoi-What a Mess’, was a virtuoso piece, brash and loud and full of the chaos that defines certain, too many, parts of the city…full of jazz and bluesy notes and sudden hammerings on strings in the piano’s cavity.

He takes his national anthem and deconstructs it of overt patriotic jingoism and reconstructs it as a soothing love sound poem that softly swirls around you and had me floating over rural scenes that, in past journeys, have delicately smoothed and shivered over an inner part my being. As I listened I wished that the brassy tune that represents the land I occasionally call home could be rendered thus and become a ballad to sway gently with, like long grass flowing as ocean waves in warm winds….feminine.

He played a piece he composed for a recent art video made by the Le Brothers in Hue. It’s called ‘Before 86’ and is a very beautiful and moving piece of art. Tri Minh’s music, without which the video loses a proportion of its emotional appeal, is superb and one can imagine it being played on a major concert hall platform with the film screening behind. It starts off in trance style and gradually develops nuances and rhythms that soar and lift.

After  a piece that would have had members of a larger, younger audience jumping to their feet and dancing in the aisle and that had metaphorical blood roaring in your ears, He concluded the recital with a very beautiful piece he’d composed as a pas de deux in a ballet suite for the Vietnamese hearing impaired dance company, Together Higher, who performed the work internationally.

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This alone was worth coming along to hear.

It was a lengthy and energetic solo recital by a classically trained pianist …..with a very fascinating dialogue in the middle between piano and multi stringed dan bau played by meritorious artist, Pham Tra My.

Soon Tri Minh is off to Europe to present his work, to compose new ambient soundscapes and to collaborate with overseas sound musicians.

Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.

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