Nadia Shpachenko – Woman at the New Piano

Pianist Nadia Shpachenko commissioned four composers to write music for her. But they weren’t just any four composers, and it wasn’t just for any reason. To usher in the new era (according to the Mayan calendar), Shpachenko asked four close friends to write works that would represent a new look at piano literature.

Although the resulting works aren’t quite that revolutionary (at least to my ears), they still are well-crafted works that deserve a listen. In a way, they  bridge the gap between the extreme avant-garde and the post-modern traditional. Although stylistically different, they all were written for a friend — Shpachenko — and collectively present a cohesive program.

Tom Flaherty’s Airdancing for toy piano, piano, and electronics, uses the toy piano both as a tinny melodic instrument and as a metallic non-tonal percussion instrument. The exotic timbres reminded me strongly of Harry Partch’s music.

Flaherty’s second work, Part Suite-a, uses thick tone clusters throughout, but with more major seconds than minor second groupings, softening the dissonance in an appealing way.

The Picture Etudes of Adam Schoenberg is a suite of four short vignettes that seemed to have echoes of Martinu in some sections. And the addition of the bass drum and gong work (played by the pianist) are both understated and quite effective in their use. His work Bounce concludes the recital, a work for two pianos that sounds like it was a lot of fun to play (it certainly was to listen to).

Cretic Variations by James Matheson is the longest work on the disc (14 minutes), and is a jazzy, percussive and thoroughly modern delight.

Nadia Shpachenko collaborated in the creation of these works, giving her an emotional investment and empathy with them. She conveys that empathy with sure, insightful delivery.

Woman at the New Piano: American Music of 2013
Nadia Shpachenko, piano; Geneive Feiwen Lee, toy piano and electronics
Tom Flaherty: Airdancing for toy piano, piano, and electronics, Part Suit-a; James Matheson: Cretic Variations: Adam Schoenberg: Picture Etudes, Bounce for two pianos; Peter Yates: Finger Songs
Reference Recordings FR-711

 

 

More Recent Posts

  • Jazz on TV – More than Peter Gunn

    Tags:

    Wednesday morning, 9/27/17, I’ll be hosting a special 3-hour program as part of the Jazz marathon/Station Fund Drive. Jazz on TV is a follow-up to my program last year, Jazz on Film. The focus is on legit jazz created (or sometimes repurposed) for TV shows. Although the bulk of jazz TV soundtracks come from the […]

  • Lesley Kernochan swings by WTJU, Sep 23

    National touring artist Lesley Kernochan will stop by WTJU this Saturday morning, September 23, around 9:30 (edt) for a live session. Lesley Kernochan is currently an Americana singer/songwriter with occasional bursts of comedy, swing, pop, and jazzy mouth trumpet. Within each unique song Lesley’s versatile voice brings music to life that is intelligent, achingly beautiful, […]

  • 9/19/2017

    New Blues & Soul News – 9/19/2017 Chickenbone Slim – The Big Beat (Self-produced): Chickenbone Slim, sometimes known as Larry Teves, is a big town musician who is more at home with front porch, down-home, and often sly notions about life. He composed all of the songs on offer and his singing as straightforward as […]

  • New Jazz Adds – 9/19/2017

    New Jazz Adds – 9/19/2017 Kei Akagi Trio – Contrast & Form (Time & Style Jazz): Educator/composer/pianist Kei Akagi offers his 14th release as a leader. He is accompanied by Shunya Wakai (bass) and Tamaya Honda (drums). This particular project was composed over a three year period and includes a re-imagining of Wayne Shorter’s “Limbo” […]

  • Will Overman pays a solo visit to WTJU, Sep 21

    Will Overman will stop by WTJU this Thursday afternoon, September 21, around 5:30.  In addition to some upcoming shows in the area, Will be releasing a solo album in early October.

  • Juliana Daugherty stops by Folk & Beyond, Sep 21

    WTJU joins University Programs Council for another September Series at The Garage.  Kicking things off September 21 will be Juliana Daugherty, with opener Alice Clair.  As a special treat, Juliana will stop by WTJU that afternoon at 4:30 for a live session during Folk & Beyond.