Patricia Lazzara’s flute duels with Kristin Johnson Dabaghian’s piano in “Woodland Sonatine.” It harmonizes with the alto melodies distributed by Steve Markoff in “Reflections of Radiance.” Lazzara finds the perfect vocal partner for “Ave Maria” and “Oblivion” in soprano Jessica Davila, while in “Serenata,” not even the most vibrant of instrumental backdrops could distract us from her exquisite play in the center of the mix. Contrasting in tone and yet smoothly tied together by some top tier arranging skills, the album Radiance by Patricia Lazzara is, simply put, an engaging listen meant for classical aficionados more than it is anyone else, and although it was released some two years ago, it’s getting a second wind of attention on thanks to the strength of its mightily melodic content.
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There are no less than seventeen songs in Radiance’s tracklist, and while some of them – like “A Muse,” “Velvet Waltz,” “Portrait of Miss L” and “Adagio E Allegro,” for example – are more conventional in spirit than others – such as the aforementioned juggernaut “Oblivion,” “Sicilenne,” “Never Love Thee More” and the closing number “Salmon Lake” – there’s a lovely progression from one composition to the next that never allows for interruptions in the overall flow of the album. It’s often hard for classical artists to construct such fluidity in a record as large and in charge in style as this one is, but through Lazzara’s evenhanded aesthetical approach (and excellent collaborative efforts with the guest players here), she makes it look and sound all too easy.
Cellist Gerall Heiser, guitarist Darren O’Neill and harpist Kristy Chmura introduce a phenomenal string section in some of the more elaborately harmonious tracks on Radiance, and personally, I felt like their emotional investment is particularly evident in “Divagando” and “Sicilenne.” I would love to see a more liberal use of their talents in another collaborative record with Lazzara in the future, but if this ends up being one of the few occasions on which they make beautiful music together, I think it could end up being considered some of the best work that any of them have put down on record together. Chemistry is everything in music, and especially among classical outings, and it’s obvious to me that none of what we hear in Radiance is unnatural nor forced.
I’m just getting to know the extended catalogue of Patricia Lazzara’s music, but after getting hooked on this ninth studio album from her moniker, I can’t say that I’m not eager to hear a lot more out of her in the next couple of years. She manages the works of Carlos Franzetti, Maurizio Balzola, Daniel Dorff, Gary Schocker and Astor Piazzolla incredibly well in Radiance, and if this is just a taste of what’s to come in the 2020s, it’s hard to deny the fact that she should be regarded as among the more noteworthy classical artists to watch in the new decade. She’ll definitely be on my radar, and after you give Radiance a spin, I think she’ll be on yours as well.