Last year, we were pleased to see one of our favorite pianists honored with a “best of” compilation. This year, Bruno Bavota returns with acoustic versions of some of his top songs (many also found on Impression, but not all), as well as two new works. Recorded in a single afternoon, these pieces sparkle with creative fire and serve as snapshots of the compositions in time. The composer states what many know but few tend to share: that songs are living beings.
But wait; there are other things going on here as well. Apart from the movements of the man at the bench, some electronic flourishes are found. This enables “Passengers” (originally from Out of the blue) to retain a bit of its original surge, albeit with softer edges. “If only my heart were as wide as the sea” (from The secret of the sea) actually loses the piano, focusing solely on the guitar and ending up half a minute shorter. “La Luce nel Cuore” first appeared nearly a decade ago, and has since gained pensiveness and length, while the title track of Mediterraneo echoes its earlier qualities of timbre and time. The lower notes of “The man who chased the sea” now seem deeper and more mature, while “Les nuis blanches” gains a few degrees of warmth and the piano and strings of “Out of the Blue” add volume. It’s interesting to note the sequencing of the album, with the two tracks from La casa sulla luna ~ the album that put Bavota on the map ~ appearing at the end, while they appeared at the beginning of that 2013 set. The choice highlights the perspective of time and the arc of a still-young career. If Bavota has a signature moment, it’s the soft phrase in the finale of “Il dito si muove sul vetro appannato,” rising out of silence. Bavota wisely mirrors the original here, preserving the dynamic contrast. And then there’s “Amour,” slightly slower, the first track now the last.
The album’s highlighted track is “The night of” (the other new piece being “Moving Clouds”), a slightly different sound than we are used to hearing from the composer: percussive, precisely miked and more dramatic than romantic. The move to Temporary Residence seems to have inspired Bavota to expand his boundaries. Those already familiar with the composer will enjoy this spontaneous set, which has the intimacy of a private concert; newcomers will find this a worthy introduction that highlights the many aspects of his talent. (Richard Allen)