A thoroughly Italianate vocal line distinguishes the first selection, Hương Xưa (Aria All’antica), elaborate scena con recitativo which constitutes an idyllic hymn to pre-war Vietnam, from its three companions. The last one of this first group, Hoài-Cảm (Secrèters Langueurs), with it well-contrasted opening and middle sections, the first a Largo doloroso in C-minor, the second a swaying valse lente in the parallel major key, has always been a favorite with the Vietnamese young ladies who want to graduate from Chopin’s Waltz in A-minor into something even more congenial. On the other hand, our second selection, Nguyệt-Cầm (Selenemorphosa), has always kept its forbidding reputation. Both the poetry and the music are recondite.
In presenting this small selection of Vietnamese music, we have chiefly opted for the most transcriptible material at hand: Westernized vocal compositions written especially for the native audience, newly recreated as concert solos for the piano, in a composite style which aimed to combine two aspects of nineteenth-century western music, i.e. post-classical performance practice with late romantic harmonic language.