Spratlan: Invasion - Music and Art for Ukraine / Shpachenko
A new album of World Premieres from GRAMMY® Award-winning Ukrainian-American pianist Nadia Shpachenko! As she watched in horror her home city of Kharkiv (and the rest of Ukraine) being destroyed and civilians being murdered every day, Shpachenko tried to come up with ways to express her feelings of utter despair and anger, as well as hope and resilience, through her music making. She decided to put together a new album to support Ukraine humanitarian aid. Reference Recordings is proud to release this album, with proceeds benefitting Ukrainian people affected by the war.
Shpachenko has collaborated with Ukrainian artists to create Invasion music videos and album art, describing their war experience. The key piece on the album, titled Invasion (for piano, alto saxophone, horn, trombone, timpani, snare drum, and mandolin) is Shpachenko’s longtime collaborator Lewis Spratlan’s response to this tragic war. The rest of the album features World Premiere recordings of solo piano music also by Spratlan. These pieces reflect on the human experience, often finding solace and inspiration in nature and music of the past. Wonderer, a major piece that closes the album, connects in its character to the current experience of many Ukrainian people, especially those displaced by the war. The hero, searching through the unknown, overcoming pain, and reminiscing about things past, triumphs at the end.
Just as 9/11 prompted a wave of commemorative works, so is the Russian invasion of Ukraine now doing. Lewis Spratlan’s Invasion is a raucous, volatile tone poem for a sextet of piano, saxophone, horn, trombone, percussion and – I assume to provide some local Ukrainian colour – mandolin, written at speed in March this year. Spratlan and pianist Nadia Shpachenko were already planning a new album to follow up her Grammy Award-winning ‘The Poetry of Places’, which featured Spratlan’s Bangladesh, when events overtook it. The performance is powerful...the booklet illustrated sumptuously with full-colour paintings by Ukrainian artists Shpachenko commissioned and by children in her battered home city of Kharkiv.
Shpachenko audibly has a deep understanding of Spratlan’s compositional processes, and – in writing all bar Wonderer for her – he clearly has an appreciation of her pianistic abilities.
Release Date: September 23, 2022
Catalog Number: FR-749
Label: Reference Recordings
Number of Discs: 1
Composer: Lewis Spratlan
Performer: Nadia Shpachenko