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Nadia Shpachenko's exceptional technical command is on full display throughout 'The Poetry of Places' / textura

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The Poetry of Places could easily pass for the final part of a trilogy, so complementary is it to Nadia Shpachenko's previous Reference Recordings releases, Woman at the New Piano (2014) and Quotations & Homages (2018). In all three cases, the intrepid pianist tackles challenging new works by a host of innovative composers, and while the concentration is on solo piano, pieces featuring two pianos, percussion, electronics, voice, and toy piano aren't uncommon. As she's done before, Shpachenko shows herself to be one of today's foremost promoters of contemporary music.

One thing does, however, set the latest release apart from the earlier ones: its architectural theme. Having developed an appreciation for the environmental spaces of performance venues, Shpachenko decided to assemble a collection that would center on architecture and, after approaching composers she admired with the idea, soon found herself inundated by pieces inspired by places as diverse as Frank Gehry's house in Santa Monica and Louis Kahn's National Assembly Building in Bangladesh. 

Shpachenko's exceptional technical command is on full display throughout the recording (see Bangladesh for incontrovertible evidence), though never gratuitously so. Her focus is wholly on rendering the composer's material into physical form with integrity and in accordance with their intentions. As satisfying as it is to experience The Poetry of Places as a stand-alone, in a perfect world Shpachenko and Reference Recordings would issue it with the two earlier releases as a box set. Listening to all three in sequence reveals even more clearly how compelling the work is that she's released in a half-decade span.

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