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

  • #ClassicsaDay #FamousLastWorks Week 3

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    For the month of October, the #ClassicsaDay team (of which I’m a part), decided to go with a Halloween theme. The idea is to share works marked in some way with the composer’s demise. It can be the last piece a composer completed before death, or one left incomplete at death. For my part, I […]

  • Jazz at 100 Hour 83: Road to Fusion

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Miles Davis Jazz-rock fusion or, often, simply “fusion” emerged in the late 60s as the child of many mothers. Characterized by electric instruments and rock rhythms, it could be loud and fast, but just as likely, could be melodic or lyrical or funky. The Charles Lloyd Quartet, the Gary Burton Quartet, Tony Williams Lifetime and […]

  • Czech Choral Masterworks: Martinu, Reznicek, Fiala

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    This has to be one of the most unusual albums of choral music I’ve listened to. The concept is solid — sacred music by 20th Century Czech composers. What’s unusual is the relationship between the composers. The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno performs two works by Bohuslav Martinu. Rounding out the album are works by […]

  • New Blues News – 10/17/2018

    New Blues News – 10/17/2018 Doyle Bramhall II – Shades (Provogue): Doyle Bramhall II certainly has one of the most unusual music sensitivities around. He blends blues, rock and a variety of sensitivities, whether by feeling or musicality. The song order here is unusual, starting with two strong rockers beyond which the songs are mostly […]

  • John D’earth stops by Jazz Messenger, Oct 19

    John D’earth will be stopping by the studio this Friday, October 19, around 11am, to talk about the Free Bridge Quintet’s concert this Saturday, October 20, at 8pm at UVA’s Old Cabell Hall. Entitled “Living Legend”, the concert will showcase the music of legendary tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. More info here: http://music.virginia.edu/free-bridge-quintet-living-legend

  • New Jazz Adds – 10/16/2018

    New Jazz Adds – 10/16/2018 Ben Allison – Quiet Revolution (Self-produced): Ben Allison (bass), Steve Cardenas (acoustic guitar) and Ted Nash (tenor sax, clarinet) have decided to stage their own quiet revolution and they certainly have the subtle cool to pull it off. They selected a half dozen Jim Hall compositions, sprinkled in two Jimmy […]