REVIEW: Patricia Lazzara and Steve Markoff team up for “Gabriel’s Oboe” (Live)
Largely known for his “spaghetti” western scores, Ennio Morricone’s lesser known contributions to the world of film music deserve as much attention. His recent death prompted musicians Patricia Lazzara and Steve Markoff to team on “Gabriel’s Oboe”, a piece from the score for 1986’s Roland Joffé film The Mission. The cinematic nature of Joffé’s work and Morricone’s compositional tendencies are a good fit for each other. There are no moody or evocative wide-screen flourishes in this track, it is meditative yet melodic throughout its entirety, and the musicianship is unreservedly five-star. Markoff’s alto flute and Lazzara’s flute are joined by Allison Brewster Franzetti on piano. The trio recorded the performance live at Ridgewood, New Jersey’s Anderson Auditorium in August of 2020. Proceeds from the paying spectators (as then allowed by state law) and concurrent simulcast aid the Mendam, New Jersey’s Randolph Regional Animal Shelter.
MORE ON THE DUO: https://www.lazzarkoff.com/
The arrangement from Dmitry Varelas positions much of the performance as, essentially, a duet between Markoff and Lazzara with Franzetti providing periphery embellishments and counterpointing their melodies. The intimate nature of the recording is obvious from the outset; the three musicians essay this track with a careful hand, never rushing its musical development, and create a fragile atmosphere that draws you in within a minute. Their patience is notable. Their understanding is as well; they share a clearly sympathetic ear for Morricone’s work and invoke the moving human spirit in the heart of his work.
The Mission is scarcely remembered now in the endless parade of cinematic works Hollywood and other film hubs churn out yearly. These three musicians deserve considerable plaudits that they picked a less than obvious piece from the maestro’s career to revisit. The composition is a near masterpiece in miniature and the three musicians’ eloquent take on this under-appreciated bit of writing. Morricone is known as a film composer, it’s where the bulk of his reputation lies, but a track such as this stands on its own divorced from any visual accompaniment.
It doesn’t demand an inordinate amount of listener’s time and the production, considering it captures a live performance, deserves praise as well. There’s well-measured balance between the three instruments but it helps there’s no ego as well. You never get any sense that someone is attempting to take the spotlight and, instead, they are serving the composition’s needs from the beginning. It is enough, to be sure, that we applaud these talented musicians putting their talents to use for the benefit of others. We can say, however, that these three musicians have brought the full breadth of both their passion and skill together to shine a light on a famous composer’s less iconic works. This is, likewise, music capable of elevating the spirit. Their final crowning achievement, however, may be how they strengthen, in their small but meaningful way, a case for Ennio Morricone’s musical legacy to surpass the artificial boundaries created by his work in the movies. He demands a greater appreciation than we have traditionally accorded his gifts.