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Artists’ new productions commemorate musician Trịnh Công Sơn

Update: April, 01/2019 - 10:00
Pianist Nguyễn Tuấn Mạnh presents a music video featuring a mashup of Diễm Xưa (Diễm, My Cherished Old Flame), one of Trịnh Công Sơn’s most famous compositions, and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Still photo from the video
Viet Nam News

By Phương Mai

HCM CITY  – Singers and musicians from HCM City have released new productions to commemorate the late musician Trịnh Công Sơn and to mark his 18th death anniversary on April 1.

Đức Tuấn, one of the best tenors in the country’s music industry, has issued a CD to honour one of Sơn’s greatest compositions Dã Tràng Ca (Song of Sand Crab).

The 12-minute song, composed in 1963, was performed in public only three times and never recorded. It consists of two sections including 13 titled verses.

Its lyrics are about people’s sorrows and their fate, and how love saves them from sadness.

Tuấn worked with drummer Công Thành, and violinist, percussionist and music producer Thanh Tâm of HCM City on the production.

The 39-year-old singer, who rose to fame after winning first prize at the HCM City Television song contest in 2000, has released dozens of albums featuring songs by famous composers Văn Cao, Phạm Duy and Trịnh Công Sơn.

After listening to the song, Nguyễn Trung Trực, Sơn’s brother-in-law, said: “My wife [singer Trịnh Vĩnh Trinh] and I were moved to tears. We would like to express our deep gratitude to singer Đức Tuấn for bringin the song alive.”

Dã Tràng Ca was written in Quy Nhơn City in Bình Định Province in 1963 with the original name Tiếng Hát Dã Tràng, for a music gala at Quy Nhơn University in the same year. It was later performed only twice, in 1975 and 2009.

Trực hopes the song will become popular so that the public can learn more about Trịnh Công Sơn’s musical heritage.

The song is also available on streaming music services like Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.

Pianist Nguyễn Tuấn Mạnh, a huge fan of Sơn’s music, has released a music video featuring a mash up of Diễm Xưa (Diễm, My Cherished Old Flame), one of Sơn’s most famous compositions, and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Sơn wrote Diễm Xưa in 1960 for his first love Ngô Vũ Bích Diễm. He used an image of her in the pouring rain, drawing out the deep anguish of missing a loved one.

“I love the melody and lyrics of Diễm Xưa. I tried to perform it on piano and then combine it with the classical composition Moonlight Sonata. Fortunately, it works.”

Through the MV, the 33-year-old pianist presents a magnificent melody about the spectacular landscapes of Huế, the composer’s homeland.

Directed by Trần Thiện, the video was filmed at Vọng Cảnh Hill, the tombs of the kings Thiệu Trị and Khải Định of the Nguyễn Dynasty, Huế’s Forbidden City, and Phu Văn Lâu or the Pavilion of Edicts. It was also filmed along the Hương River and Hải Dương Beach.

Mạnh’s creative production has received praise from Sơn’s family and fans.

“What a wonderful combination. Tuấn Mạnh’s performance is elegant and creative,” said Hoàng Văn Đạt, a fan of Sơn’s music.

Born to a traditional music family, Mạnh began studying piano at the HCM City Conservatory at the age of 8. He earned a master’s of music in piano performance at  Illinois State University in the US in 2013.

He performed as a soloist with the ASEAN Orchestra led by Japanese conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura in 2010.

He was a pioneer in bringing chamber music to young audiences in HCM City.

In 2016, Mạnh was included on the “30 Under 30” list by Forbes Vietnam magazine in recognition of his achievements in the music industry.

Like Tuấn and Mạnh, businessman and singer Dương Tấn Sơn expressed his love for Sơn’s music with the music video Dấu Chân Địa Đàng (Footmark in Heaven).

The singer has sung Sơn’s compositions for nearly 20 years and released two albums, but has not done a music video.

“Dấu Chân Địa Đàng is a special song and is beautiful like an abstract painting. So I decided to bring the heaven from Sơn’s music to reality,” he said. “Through my video, I want to show off an aspect of Sơn’s music that is very poetic and cinematic.”

New film

Sơn’s family is working with Galaxy Studio, one of the country’s private film studios, and film producer and director Nguyễn Quang Dũng to make a film musical about the composer.

Trực said “The film is about a love story about Sơn and a Japanese woman named Yoshii Michiko.” The producers are now holding casting calls to find two actors who will play Sơn in youth and middle age.

Directed by Phan Gia Nhật Linh, the film is expected to begin in April 2020 and be released on April 1 in 2021 to mark the 20th death anniversary of Sơn.

Trịnh Công Sơn was born in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Đắk Lắk in 1939, but grew up in Huế.

He became popular in 1957 with his first song, Ướt Mi (Crying Eyes).

It is estimated that he has written over 600 songs, 236 of which have been widely popular among Vietnamese audiences, such as Ru Tình (Lullaby to Love), Ca Khúc Da Vàng (Yellow-Skinned People’s Song) and Nối Vòng Tay Lớn (Joining Hands for Solidarity).

Songs such as Diễm Xưa and Ca Dao Mẹ (Mother’s Lullabies) have been translated into Japanese, and have been performed by leading Japanese singers such as Yoshimi Tendo and Aya Shimazu.

Sơn died in on April 1, 2001 after a prolonged illness.

Since then, his family and fans of his music have launched annual commemorative events in HCM City and other provinces to mark his death anniversary.

This year, commemorative events will be held on April 1 at the HCM City Book Pedestrian Street on Nguyễn Văn Bình Street in District 1 and at Sơn’s former house (which belongs to his family) at 47C Phạm Ngọc Thạch Street in District 3. – VNS

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