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Byrdland
William BYRD
Ye Sacred Muses [4:11]
John DOWLAND
Can She Excuse My Wrongs? [3:49]; Now, Oh Now I Needs Must Part [5:21]
Anthony HOLBORNE
Galliard - The Fairy Rownde [1:14]
William BYRD
Lullaby
[4:59]
Anthony HOLBORNE
Galliard [0:52]
William BYRD
Come To Me Grief For Ever [4:00]; I Thought That Love Had been a boy [1:29]
John PLAYFORD
Under The Greenwood Tree [1.35]
Henry PURCELL
If Love's A Sweet Passion [3.21]; Fairest Isle [2.18]
John PLAYFORD
The Indian Queen
[0.28]
Henry PURCELL
Man Is For The Woman Made
[1.43]; Dance For The Haymakers [0:51]
Orlando GIBBONS
The Silver Swan [1.27]
Vincenzo GALLILEI
La Volta [0.44]
John DOWLAND
Flow My Tears [4.05]
Orlando GIBBONS
Fantasia In 4 Parts [4.44];
William BYRD
Crowned With Flowers [1.41]
John DOWLAND
Fine Knacks For Ladies [1.59]
John DANYEL
The Leaves Be Green
[1.37]
Thomas MORLEY
April Is In My Mistress' Face [1.18]
John DOWLAND
In Darkness Let Me Dwell [3.37]
Henry PURCELL Evening Hymn [4.27]
Lawrence Zazzo (counter-tenor); Paragon Saxophone Quartet
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 25-27 November 2007
LANDOR LAN280 [62:47]

 

Experience Classicsonline


Lawrence Zazzo is an American counter-tenor, who studied at King’s College, Cambridge and at the Royal College Music and is now apparently making quite a name for himself performing all over the world with leading musicians and at all the main venues. In the notes accompanying this disc, Zazzo writes of his fascination with the sound mixture of the counter-tenor voice and saxophone. He enthuses about the similarity between ancient music and jazz, and expresses his hope that these are “honest and beautiful interruptions of the composers and their music”.

The disc features a range of works, including Dowland lute songs, English madrigals by Morley and Gibbons, and some Purcell, including the Evening Hymn, several songs from his stage works and consort songs by Byrd - originally for voice and a consort of instruments, usually viols.

Zazzo has a pleasant countertenor voice. He is rather histrionic in the more manic songs, such as Can She Excuse My Wrongs? to the point that he almost starts to sound like a caricature. On such occasions, I - rather unfairly - find it difficult to banish the theme tune of Blackadder from my mind. Yet he is quite beautiful in slower, gentler ones. His enunciation is good, although one sometimes feels that he is slightly over-enunciating the words. The voice can also come across as slightly constricted, such as in If Love's A Sweet Passion.

The saxophones generally work brilliantly. Hiding the CD cover, I challenged several musical, but non-musician, friends to guess what the instruments were, and none guessed correctly, trying instead to work out what early instruments they might be. It is actually amazing how closely the saxophones can emulate the sound of authentic period instruments. The only problem with the saxophone is that the basso continuo part is not always well suited to the baritone saxophone, and we end up with a rather ubiquitous and unrelenting lugubrious air.

Individually each song is well done, but as a general rule, Zazzo doesn’t do quite enough to distinguish each one, and it ends up sounding a bit same-y. On the whole, however, it is an interesting and engaging disc, and good for testing - and probably aggravating! - non-musician friends.

Em Marshall

 




 


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