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 andrò 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.