Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Boyle,Burgon,Campion,Dowland,Kapsberger,Mozart,Purcell & Schumann
LABELS: Evil Penguin Records
WORKS: Songs by Boyle, Burgon, Campion, Dowland, Kapsberger, Mozart, Purcell & Schumann
PERFORMER: Lawrence Zazzo (countertenor), Shizuko Noiri (lute)


This intriguing, well-chosen programme encompasses works by some of the usual suspects among lute-song composers, modern pieces for countertenor from Geoffrey Burgon and Rory Boyle, and transcriptions of compositions by Howells, Mozart and Schubert which, although conceived for different instruments and voices, sound absolutely right in these versions. Howells’s setting of a Walter de la Mare poem, Full Moon, makes for a beautiful, moving opening to the album.


Zazzo’s voice is pure, strong and individual. In the Purcell works and ‘Lady, Weeping at the Crossroads’, the second song of Burgon’s cycle of Auden settings, he strikes me as a little mannered and operatic, seeming to be acting the emotions described rather than actually feeling them. But these are minor lapses. For the most part, Zazzo is a convincing storyteller. Indeed, he fits Burgon’s cycle and Boyle’s Two Love Lyrics into a cohesive, highly satisfying musical and poetic narrative. Noiri’s accompaniments are clear, keen-edged and beautifully articulated, and she gets a well-earned solo in Kapsberger’s Toccata Prima. Barry Witherden