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Mare, Luna e d’intorni – The Golden Age of Neapolitan Song
see end of review for track listing
Luciano Catapano (tenor and guitar); Gino Evangelista (mandolin)
rec. live, Eglise St-Nicolas, Rougemont, Switzerland, June 2006
Notes and texts in Italian and English.
CLAVES 502618 [60:42]
Experience Classicsonline

Too often we hear Neapolitan songs in heavily over-arranged versions and, sometimes, sung in too grandly operatic a manner. Too often we hear Neapolitan songs performed in Standard Italian (or even a kind of mid-Atlantic Italian), rather than in the dialect in which many of the best of them were written. And it isn’t only non-Italians who are ‘guilty’ – I remember listening to a recording of Pavarotti singing Neapolitan ‘favourites’ with a friend from Naples; though he admired the voice my friend couldn’t stop laughing at Pavarotti’s North-Italian attempts to negotiate the distinctive Neapolitan sounds of the texts.
It is pleasant, thus, to hear some familiar (and some unfamiliar) songs from the city of Parthenope sung and played in intimate fashion, never overblown or emotionally milked beyond their true nature, by two thoroughgoing Neapolitans.
Luciano Catapano has a light tenor voice which he uses intelligently and sensitively. To fully appreciate his singing one has to work quite hard at the texts provided (though I have described them above as being in Italian they are, in fact, in Neapolitan, a dialect which most Italians themselves would sometimes find hard to comprehend) and the accompanying translations. Study the lyrics carefully and one realises with what unpretentious subtlety Catapano interprets them.
As instrumentalists both Catapano and the mandolinist Gino Evangelista play with rhythmic certainty and flexibility and with an unforced poetry – there is much less overt sentimentality here than some will associate with ‘Neapolitan song’.
There are songs here by such important figures as Raffaele Viviani, actor, musician, dramatist and much else, a major figure on the Neapolitan theatrical and musical scene, whose plays are attracting increasing attention – in their own time their images of life amongst the Neapolitan poor were admired by figures such as Gorky. There is work by the classical pianist Enrico de Leva, who worked with Tosti and by the poet and dramatist Salvatore di Giacomo.
The live performance is atmospheric, and the audience are guilty of very few distractions so far as the home listener is concerned. The CD comes with full texts and translations and a brief, suggestive essay by Antonin Scherrer on the nature of Neapolitan song and the significance of the images of moon and sea around which the programme has, in effect, been constructed. Unfortunately, however, the booklet offers absolutely no information whatsoever on the composers and lyricists. I have, above, supplied such information as I have been able to, without undertaking a quantity of research out of proportion to the (real enough) charms of this very pleasant CD. Where possible I have also supplied dates for the songs.
Glyn Pursglove

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

Track listing
Salvatore Di GIACOMO (1860-1934) / Pasquale Maria COSTA (1858-1933)
Catari’ (1892) [3:45]
Mare ‘e Margellina (1912) [2:40]
Tarantella (instrumental) [1:41]
Raffaele VIVIANI  (1888-1950)
’o vapore [1:44]
Quanno jarraie a spusa (1911) [3:21]
Salvatore Di GIACOMO (1860-1934) / Pasquale Maria COSTA (1858-1933)
’e spingule frangese (1888) [3:35]
Edoardo NICOLARDI (1878-1954) / Evemero NARDELLA (1878-1950)
’mmiez’ô ggrano (1909) [4:32]
Giacomo ROSSINI (1792-1868)
La Danza (instrumental) (1835) [3:59]
Salvatore Di GIACOMO (1860-1934) / Pasquale Maria COSTA (1858-1933)
Era de Maggio (1885) [4:17]
Raffaele VIVIANI (1888-1950)
Tarantella segreta [2:20]
G. de LUCA (1876-1950) / Francesco BUONGIOVANNI (1872-1940)
’a cartulina ’e Napule (1927) [3:08]
E. del PRETE / Pietro LABRIOLA (1820-1881)
Lo cardillo (1950?) [4:38]
M. di GALDIERI (1877-1923) / G. BONAVOLANTÀ
Serenatella a na cumpagna ’e scola (1947) [2:57]
Libero BOVIO (1883-1942) / Enrico CANNIO (1875-1949)
’a serenata ’e Pulicenella (1916) [3:23]
Salvatore DI GIACOMO (1860-1934) / E. A. MARIO (1884-1961)
Miérolo affurtunato (1946) [4:08]
O. di GALLO / Mario PERSICO (1892-1977)
’e palumme (1913) [2:40]
Monte marano (instrumental) [4:12]


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