Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine
Nadia Shpachenko, Pianist
Reference Recordings is proud to release this album, with 100% of proceeds benefitting Ukrainian people affected by the war through the Razom organization. If you would like to donate above the cost of the recording, you may do so here.
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. In addition to performing fundraising concerts featuring music by Ukrainian composers, she decided to put together a new album to support Ukraine humanitarian aid. Reference Recordings is proud to release this album, with 100% of proceeds benefitting Ukrainian people affected by the war. Shpachenko commissioned Ukrainian artists to create paintings/artworks to use in the album booklet, online and in-person galleries, and the accompanying music videos, as their responses to the music. Also featured are artworks made by children in Kharkiv, as their responses to the war. 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. It was composed for Shpachenko during the period of February 24-March 13, 2022. 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.
A “gifted and versatile pianist” (San Francisco Chronicle) and GRAMMY® Award winner, Nadia Shpachenko enjoys bringing into the world things that are outside the box – powerful pieces that often possess unusual sonic qualities or instrumentation. Nadia’s 2019 Reference Recordings album The Poetry of Places, featuring world premieres of architecture-inspired works, won the Best Classical Compendium GRAMMY® Award. She is a Steinway Artist, Schoenhut Toy Piano artist, and professor of music at Cal Poly Pomona University.
Lewis Spratlan, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in music, was born in 1940 in Miami, Florida. He is the recipient of numerous awards and Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEA, Bogliasco, and MacDowell fellowships. He continues producing new works at a prodigious rate.
Recorded on May 29 and June 22-23, 2022 at Silent Zoo Studios, Glendale, CA
Producer: Lewis Spratlan
Recording Engineer: Patrick Dillon Curry
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Sean Royce Martin
Piano: Steinway & Sons, Model D
Program Notes: Peter Yates
Visual Artists: Yurii Nagulko, Lesia Babliak, Kati Prusenko, Olena Papka, Aza Nizi Maza Studio children artists, art direction by Mykola Kolomiyets
Cover Painting: Lesia Babliak,”My beloved Ukraine,” from Yellow-Blue Album of war art. March, 2022.
Razom for Ukraine is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Razom means “together” in Ukrainian and serves as a constant reminder of the community that it takes to create, build and do. Emergency Response is the SOS button that is pressed in times of need. This project was created to provide urgent help and support in the face of an extreme or unforeseen situation in Ukraine. Today, the sovereign nation of Ukraine has to deal with the most horrendous and catastrophic emergency – a brutal invasion. Razom responds to this by providing critical humanitarian war relief and recovery depending on the most urgent needs as they evolve.
On This Recording
- Invasion (12:25)
- Capriccio (5:21)
- Dirge (5:16)
- Pastorale (3:28)
- Goose Eye Mountain Rag (3:51)
- Speck Pond Rag (4:29)
- Mahoosuc Notch Rag (4:33)
- Mount Greylock Rag (3:22)
- Pelham Lake Rag (2:52)
- Chesterfield Gorge Rag (3:58)
- Presto (1:52)
- Gentle (3:23)
- Wonderer (20:57)
INVASION for piano, saxophone, horn, trombone, percussion, & mandolin
with Anthony Parnther, conductor; Pat Posey, saxophone; Aija Mattson-Jovel, horn; Phil Keen, trombone; Yuri Inoo, percussion; & Joti Rockwell, mandolin
Piano Suite No. 1 for solo piano
Six Rags for solo piano
Two Sonatas for solo piano
Wonderer for solo piano
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. The whole album may not be the sum of its parts, its expressive diversity at times bafflingly wide, but each individual part is impressive, and mostly haunting.” —Guy Rickards, Gramophone
“This is certainly one of the first releases to reflect the war in Ukraine; it may go down ultimately as one of the richest and best, and it serves also as a reference for the remarkable late-life creativity of Spratlan, in his ninth decade when he composed Invasion.” —James Manheim, AllMusic
“All the performers (primarily Shpachenko) are magnificent; the music absolutely is worth hearing; and the booklet is almost a work of art in itself. A word, finally, is due for the engineers. Piano recordings are notoriously hard to make, but Shpachenko is caught beautifully. Recommended unhesitatingly.” —Colin Clarke, Fanfare
“Listening to this music I was reminded of works similar in intent by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, to name but two composers, who neither celebrating, nor condemning, turned compositions inspired by the horrors of war into art. Gratitude is due to Lewis Spratlan and to Nadia Shpachenko, soulmates against man’s inhumanity to man.” —Rafael de Acha, All About the Arts
What makes Invasion specifically tailored to this release, whose proceeds are being donated to Ukrainian aid relief, is the very absence of unrelieved sorrow… The result shines with color and many more rays of hope than despair.… one of the first and most fascinating responses to events in Ukraine…I was moved by the humane intentions behind this album, and yet it would be a shame to overlook Wonderer just because it falls outside the realm of current events. For all their differences, Spratlan has written two remarkable works in both Invasion and Wonderer. Anyone enticed by my descriptions will be amply rewarded listening to this release, which is the outstanding contemporary-music disc of the year.” —Huntley Dent, Fanfare