Aria - Tose Proeski & Gianna Nannini

Aria, I think first and foremost, is a phenomenal piece of music, an incredible song. It was written by Gianna Nannini and Francesco Sartori with as remarkable and powerful a melody as you could hope to find.

My connection stems from my time with Gianna Nannini – which goes all the way back to my early days in 1988 – when I worked on her record, Malafemmina, with Alan Moulder at Conny Plank’s studio near Cologne.

I toured with Gianna three times, before deciding to concentrate fully on a production career. But over the years we kept in touch, and in 2002, when Gianna was asked to do a soundtrack for an animated film called ‘Momo’, she asked me to do it with her – and one of the pieces she had in mind was the song Aria.

She had written it with Francesco Sartori, one of Andrea Bocelli’s writers, perhaps best known for co-writing Bocelli’s famous, ‘Con Te Partiro.’ I was astonished right from the start by how great the melody was. Melody is often very dependant on its foundations, the chords put behind it. I’m a strong believer that the lyric and the narrative is generally more important – but with a song like Aria, the melody, in my view, is just a stand-alone stunning thing all of its own.

Moving forward to 2006, I was working with Tose Proeski, an emerging star looking to transition into the international market. Given the vocal ability that Tose had, I played him Aria – and he fell in love with it straight away.

I recorded a version of it with him, sung in perfect Italian. Part of my thinking was that I felt it could give him an opening into the Italian market, and from there, perhaps, we could move on to other territories in Europe and build a career for Tose outside of the Balkans, which was his home.

By sheer good fortune, Gianna arrived in London shortly afterwards to work at Metropolis studios where I was based at the time. I invited her to hear the version I’d recorded with Tose, and she burst into tears, she was so moved by his performance. I asked if she’d agree to do a duet with him; she said she would. We asked Will Malone to write a string arrangement for it, and set up a session at Olympic Studios, which was filmed on the day.

It’s very moving to me to watch the footage, and think back to the young star Tose was – lost so tragically at a point when his career promised to reach new heights. His vocal performance alongside Gianna on a virtuoso piece sends a chill down my spine.

I’m only grateful we could capture something so very special.