Bruno Bavota: Mediterraneo
Two things demand to be known about Mediterraneo before anything else. First of all, its title, so Neapolitan pianist/composer Bruno Bavota informs us, has nothing to do with the sea; for him, it stands for warmth (of the soul), light (of the heart), sharing, and love. Secondly, Bavota, in wishing to fully give himself over to inspiration, recorded the entire forty-three-minute album in a single day and, apparently, in the dark. While piano might appear to be his primary instrument, Bavota also is credited with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and field recordings, and is joined by violinist Paolo Sasso and cellist Marco Pescosolido.
Anyone who's had a chance to hear Bavota's work before already knows that his is an intimate and romantic music overflowing with melody and free of cynicism. As a composer of unapologetically accessible music, he aspires to bring beauty into the world and soothe the listener's weary soul. Delicate piano and guitar melodies stripped of gratuitous embellishment appear in concise instrumental songs that are by turns evocative and lyrical. An occasional field recording taken from nature surfaces to bolster the atmospheric character of a song, and the string players enhance the material with elegant contributions that give the material a chamber-like quality (during “Alba,” their playing exudes an almost rustic, country tinge).
By his own admission Bavota's favourite song, the solo piano setting “Who Loves, Lives” is representative of the album's tone in the way it gracefully segues between melancholy and stately episodes. But while “The Night” does much the same two songs later, the composer ensures that variety is present on the album by alternating between piano and guitar as lead voices and blending the instruments in unpredictable ways. By way of illustration, the intense title setting follows its dramatic piano presentation with “A Quiet Place,” a lilting ballad featuring acoustic guitar, strings, and piano. While Mediterraneo provides a satisfying listening experience from start to finish, the prettiest of its many solo piano pieces is perhaps “Fairytale,” an elegant classical setting that concludes the release on a captivating note.