If classical flute strikes up a fire within your heart whenever you hear it, Patricia Lazzara’s 2018 album Radiance was made with you in mind. Lazzara’s flute play is at the bedrock of every one of the seventeen songs on the record, with highlights including breathtaking renditions of “Serenata,” “Oblivion” and “Ave Maria” just to name a few, and while there have been no shortage of strong classical output in the last few years, this LP seems tailor-made for true lovers of the genre more than anyone. Radiance asks us to put aside our preconceptions about what melody should sound like 2020 in favor of revisiting the most endearing formulas in the book with a new, fresh resilience not common in music today.
There are some infectiously melodic twists and turns to the tracklist of this album, and in my initial sit down, “Portrait of Miss L,” the exotic “Divagando,” “Serenata” and “Salmon Lake” translated as having some of the most defining fever pitches of any compositions on the record. There are no need for lyrics to express the emotionality in the music we hear in these tracks, and in the instances where Lazzara is joined by the soprano Jessica Davila, the vocals and the instrumentation are mixed as a singular force instead of individual components.
I would have liked a little more piano in “Lake Kezar” and more of an emphasis on the strings in “Sicilenne,” but I can absolutely appreciate the arrangement scheme that was utilized by the players instead. It actually makes a lot of sense to put the flute parts at the forefront of the music in these tracks if the ultimate goal was to draw our attention towards the higher end of the melodic band, which, as I hear it, is definitely where most of the catharsis on Radiance is generated (much to the credit of Patricia Lazzara).
The harmonies in “Regrets and Resolutions,” “Aubade” and the string-laden “Velvet Waltz” might be the most colorful I’ve heard in a classical LP all year long, but the flute is always the central linchpin holding everything together on this record. This isn’t to say that anything ever appears one-sided from an aesthetical perspective in this tracklist, but to even suggest that Lazzara (and occasionally alto flutist Steve Markoff, with whom she released a separate collaborative album in 2019) isn’t the most captivating player here would be critical sacrilege.
Flute fans and casual harmony enthusiasts alike would be quite wise to take a listen in on what Patricia Lazzara has produced for us in the album Radiance, because while it isn’t the first classical record in the 21st century to rouse emotions out of listeners with little more than a basic wind-based melody, it’s by far one of the best to come from an independent source post-2010. Lazzara has a future ahead of her as long as she keeps making music like this, and I look forward to hearing how she cultivates her sound even more than she has here in the next decade-plus.