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Sep 202013

From track 5 to track 8, we turn to Phạm Duy unanimously recognized as the single man who cast the longest shadow across the music of his country in this century. Since war precludes Vietnam from building any solid basis for a higher musical culture, the only creative outlet has been through vocal compositions. But the situation there is more often than not quite baroque (in both the figurative and the comparative senses): it allows just unadorned melodies, the composer having typically left all attempt at accompaniment to the discretion of his performing groups. So the tune is all there could ever be. That’s truest with Phạm Duy. What melodies! Tình-Ca (Paean), a magnificent celebration of Phạm Duy’s love toward his national language, melts harmoniously together improvisatory folk idioms with academic structural architecture; Cỏ Hồng (Blushing Verdure), ecstatically proclaims virginal nubility with exquisite sensuousness, such as was never before encountered in Vietnamese music; Trả Lại Em Yêu (La Valse Des Adieux), compose in 1971, delivers the bitter message from a young Vietnamese enlistee to his war time sweetheart, in a simple-minded waltz, the easy-going manner of which only makes their dilemmas more poignant; Đêm Xuân (Vernal Serenade), a Fauré-like ode written on the eve of his marriage, exudes springtime freshness. There are more, of course, but may those four songs exemplify Phạm Duy’s wide-ranging inspirations.

Buy songs by PHẠM DUY in “Vietnamese Romances” album