John Bayless

Romantica

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Once again pianist and arranger John Bayless demonstrates his inimitable skills as an arranger of well-known melodies. This time his tribute is directed toward the wide scope of Italian music's most fetching melodies: opera arias, popular songs, and film scores. After opening with a tolling bell, the CD begins with a majestic pastiche of various melodies from 'Cavalleria Rusticana.' With contrasting moods as his goal, Bayless performs a meditative solo piano arrangement of Ennio Morricone's love theme from 'Cinema Paradiso.'

"Ebben, ne andrĂ² lontana" from Catalani's 'La Wally,' another delicate arrangement for solo piano, continues the placid mood set by the Morricone but this time with a more dynamic work marked by rippling passages and a dynamism that suggest the expansiveness of Chopin's Ballades. Another standout track is Donizetti's "Una furtiva lagrima," an arrangement that is memorable for its delicate, sparse, almost Satie-like arrangement filtered through a sensibility that again recalls Chopin, the grand master of romantic piano music. Bayless saves the best for last: with just a pinch of melancholy, "Torna a surriento" for piano and orchestra serves as a stirring summation for the unforgettable originality of Italian melody-making.

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