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Italian Popular Song 1
Historic recordings made between 1926 and 1951 ADD
NAXOS 8.110768 [78:17]

Francesco Paolo TOSTI A vucchella performed by Tito Schipa (1927) [2:43]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI L’alba sèpara dalla luce l’ombra performed by Jussi Björling (1949)
Michele ESPOSITO Anema e core performed by Ferruccio Tagliavini (1951) [3:49]
Alois MELICHAR Anima mia performed by Beniamio Gigli (1936) [3:21]
Ernesto DE CURTIS Carmela performed by Beniamino Gigli (1930) [3:06]
Ernesto DE CURTIS Canta pe’ me! performed by Beniamino Gigli (1928) [3:24]
Richard BARTHELEMY Chi se nne scorda cchiù! performed by Tito Schipa (1928) [2:47]
Salvatore CARDILLO Core ‘ngrato performed by Giuseppe Di Stefano (1953) [3:42]
Gioachino ROSSINI La Danza performed by Jan Kiepura (1932) [2:51]
Luigi DENZA Funiculi, funiculà performed by Alessandro Ziliani (1935) [2:37]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI Ideale performed by Jussi Björling (1937) [3:25]
Emanuele NUTILE Mamma mia, che vo’ sape’? performed by Beniamino Gigli (1930) [3:47]
Ernesto TAGLIAFERRI Mandulinata a Napoli performed by Joseph Schmidt (1934) [2:55]
Fracesco Paolo TOSTI Marechiare performed by Giuseppe Di Stefano (1953) [3:33]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO Mattinata performed by Aureliano Pertile (1927) [2:05]
Stanislao GASTALDON Musica proibita performed by Mario Del Monaco [3:43]
Edoardo DI CAPUA O sole mio performed by Jussi Björling (1937) [3:18]
Luigi DENZA Occhi di fata performed by Beniamino Gigli (1930) [3:00]
Teodoro COTTRAU Santa Lucia performed by Joseph Schmidt (1933) [3:24]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI Serenata performed by Beniamino Gigli (1930) [3:34]
Nicola VALENTE Torna performed by Tito Schipa (1932) [3:36]
Ernesto DE CURTIS Torna a Surriento performed by Tito Schipa (1932) [3:04]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI L’ultima canzone performed by Beniamino Gigli (1934) [4:31]
Traditional, arr. VERGINE Vieni sul mar performed by Tito Schipa (1926) [3:34]


Italian song is a musical form which stretches back centuries, boasting many of the greatest composers and performers the world has seen. Many of these songs, such as Funiculi, funiculà or O sole mio are still familiar to the average English speaker, either due to the cinema or through translations that continued to be popular even into the Rock and Roll era. Indeed, in translation, even Elvis ‘did’ some of these songs.

Thus it can only be considered a joy to find so many of these songs restored to such an amazing degree, and performed by such a cast of amazing Italian tenors. Simply stated, this is a collection of the best and most popular of Italian song. The performances could easily be considered among the best of their era and stand the test of time. The lush accompaniments are at home in the sounds of yesteryear or in the concert halls of today.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this collection is the degree to which these recordings have been restored. It is not overstating the case to say that it sounds as if many of these recordings could easily have been done in a modern studio, as there is a truly wonderful fidelity to the music, in most songs very little tape-hiss or background noise remains, and there is no noticeable noise from the original 78s. With the voices and instruments enlivened to a point not normally encountered, this is a minor miracle.

Naxos has managed to bring to the public a collection that otherwise would be ignored and lost to history. These recordings, many of them more than 80 years old, sound simply amazing. The re-mastering engineer deserves every commendation. This is a wonderful collection of historic recordings, one definitely worth exploration.

Patrick Gary

See also review by Robert Farr


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