REVIEW: Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara — Don’t Dream It’s Over (feat. Allison Brewster Franzetti)
Alto flutist Steve Markoff and concert flutist Patricia Lazzara team again with pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti for “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. This Crowded House cover from the trio’s forthcoming third album is the 4th single released so far from a collection slated to land this year. It follows the tradition of their earlier singles by transposing 80’s pop hits into a quasi-classical framework. What may initially seem like a gimmick to some listeners is much more once you begin listening. They treat songs such as this seriously and reveal hidden depths in these compositions.
D. Varelas’ arrangement is crucial. He stretches the original version far past its pop song limits extending Markoff, Lazzara, and Franzetii’s version to over six minutes long. It doesn’t sink the track, however. Listeners are, instead, treated to the sound of three top-flight musicians realizing a composition’s fullest potential. It has a delicate body. The original’s forceful and dynamic pop retains the later quality, albeit in a different form, while the trio transplant the former in favor of quiet vulnerability.
Franzetti’s piano provides the song’s foundation. Her gliding lines and subtle shifts in rhythm are persistent throughout the song and complement the flutists. The three players use space exceptionally well during “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, particularly Markoff and Lazzara, and the performance adds weight as a result.
It’s affecting to hear how well Lazzara and Markoff “dialogue” with their respective instruments. There’s no sense of competition between the two — there is a free and relaxed exchange driving the song’s melody. The threesome reaches the performance’s high point with the chorus, naturally, and it achieves an emotional peak that few listeners will readily forget.
Instrumentals seldom score any kind of commercial success. It isn’t about the money for Markoff and Lazzara, Franzetti either, but exploration instead. Few consider material such as this ideal for adaptation, but these musicians and D. Varelas see possibility where others do not. Their work re-envisioning this song for their audience reveals Neil Finn’s songwriting to be far more elastic than anyone likely suspected.
It’s another improbable success for the principles. Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s connection began when Markoff began taking lessons from Lazzara. Their teacher/student connection over time evolved into a creative partnership that bears increasing fruit with every new release. The trio’s 2019 debut album Timeless — Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock introduced the music world to their music via a sprawling eighteen-song set. It made their ambition clear. Their second release 2021’s Romances in Blue widened their ambitions even further.
There’s no end in sight. These three talents are reinventing some of late 20th-century pop music’s finest gems in such a creative fashion that they are essentially reclaiming these songs as their own. Give this collection a chance. Any preconceived notions you may have about this song melt away when you hear the excellent treatment this song receives. It’s well worth the price of purchase and you won’t stop listening to it anytime soon.