Flute duo Steve Markoff & Patricia Lazzara returned to The Ark’s homepage this past winter with their captivating cover of the classic You Raise Me Up, a rendition we found to be a piece of “sonic respite and serenity“. Now they’re back with their long-awaited second collaborative album, Romances in Blue.
There is an overwhelming amount of talent present in this record, and each performer has a resume to back their skills up. Patricia Lazzara (concert flute) is a 3-time winner of the Artists International Competition, who has performed at both Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has won the Florida Flute Association Performers Grant for Advanced Study as well as the National Flute Association Convention Performers Competition. Steve Markoff (alto flute) has a performance style that has been described as “formidably expressive” and “stunning”, with his work receiving a great deal of acclaim from critics. Joining the duo once more is Allison Brewster Franzetti (piano), a 2014 & 2018 Latin Grammy® Nominee for Best Classical Album and 2008 Grammy® Nominee for Best Instrumental Soloist without Orchestra, who has also performed on numerous Grammy® -winning tracks.
This all-star trio has created their finest work yet on Romances In Blue. This dynamic album is a true testament to their talents and cohesion as musicians – the chemistry is palpable, the arrangements are gorgeous, and the music is performed near-perfectly. It’s a wonderful combination of definitive skill and pure emotion.
“The instrumental journey featuring several World Premiers and newly-commissioned works explores the path of life through the emotions of attraction, love, hope, longing, despair, sadness, deep joy, and finally acceptance of what is.”
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
It’s impossible to listen through this album and not feel. It’s a challenge to evoke emotion without the use of words or lyrics, but it is “feeling” that reigns supreme on this album track after track. We’re reminded of this as we revisit If I Could Reach Your Heart at the start of this project (a track we got our hands on last May), but the emotion behind the music truly does exist as the centerpiece of the entire album.
Another great example of this is Longing. We’re introduced to this track with a particularly ear-catching back-and-forth between the piano and alto flute, a delicate “call and response”. This gives way to a somber and expressive piece that fully embodies the title, creating a heavy mood interspersed with moments of lightness and hope.
We enter a more uplifting space with Kiss, a dynamic and romantic piece by composer Maurizio Balzola. This track has a very cinematic feel, increasing in intensity as it progresses, seemingly recreating the rise-and-fall that often accompanies a moment of romantic tension. The gentleness leads to urgency which leads to intensity at the peak – and this story is told as much by the composition as it is by the musician’s performances.
Dark and melancholy, The Day I Lost My Love has a quality that’s almost reminiscent of a ghost story – a tale that’s been recounted time and again, familiar and worn in. Composed by Ron Korb and inspired by a true story of the loss of a lover, the winding path through grief and loneliness is on clear display.
We also love Quietly Comes The Night, another track that does an excellent job of creating a very specific image. This is “the end of a long day on the porch at sunset” in song. It’s a slow and gentle unwinding as dusk falls, perhaps the sonic embodiment of the word “tender”.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
The title track Three Romances in Blue was composed by Dmitriy Varelas. This is a fusion of both romance music and blues music, and contains three distinct movements, each with “its own blue color“, according to the composer. It’s an unexpected genre combination, but the soulfulness of the blues elements combined with the emotion of the classical romance elements work incredibly well together. Indeed, each movement in the track is easily detectable, but there’s an overall sense of cohesion and flow from one to the next. It’s perhaps the best combination of the highlights of the album; a beautifully composed work, a harmonious blending of each instrument without losing each individual distinction in tone, and – at the risk of sounding cliche – a little bit of je ne sais quois. There’s something angelic, even almost magical, in the way this track (and most of the album) is executed, that just feels beyond words. It’s something that can only be appreciated while listening to this timeless blend of instruments as they speak so comprehensively in the universal language of music.
A jaw-dropping collection of compositions backed by equally impressive performances. Tracks that inspire, that uplift, that paint compelling pictures of loss and sadness and follow them with hope and resiliency. Romances in Blue is an ethereal, captivating project, performed by musicians who seem to truly connect with the pieces they’re performing and bring them effortlessly to their full potential. The work of Steve Markoff & Patricia Lazzara is unparalleled in their chosen genre space and solidified by their accomplishments with this album. For fans of classical, flute-based music – this most recent work by this wholly impressive duo is a true must-listen.
BELOW: Listen to Romances in Blue and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support Steve Markoff & Patricia Lazzara by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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