John Stetch: Ukranianism

Canadian pianist John Stetch draws from his heritage in his new solo outing Ukranianism (Justin Time). Stetch creatively deconstructs a medley of songs associated with a circle dance on “Kolomeyka Fantasy” and reaches into the piano to strum the strings and simulate the sound of the drimbeh (jaw harp) on the tricky “Zabava.” There are light moments, including the dulcimer sound of “Carpathian Blues,” the traditional waltz “Sitting by the Window” reset into 4/4 and the joyous “Rye, Not Wheat!” There are also, as you might expect, darker moments, including the foreboding “Famine,” for which Stetch plays atonally to remind us of Stalin’s genocidal campaign against the Ukraine, and the heartbreaking “Children of Chornobyl” (sic), to commemorate the young victims of the horrible nuclear accident in 1986.