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Mare, Luna e d’intorni – The Golden Age of Neapolitan Song
Catari' [3:45]
Era de Maggio [4:17]
'e spingule frangese [3:35]
Mare 'e Margellina [2:40]
Tarantella [1:41]
Monte marano [4:12]
'o vapore [1:44]
Quanno jarraie a spusa [3:21]
Tarantella segreta [2:20]
'mmiez'ô ggrano [4:32]
Danza (instrumental) [3:59]
'a cartulina 'e Napule [3:08]
Lo cardillo [4:38]
Serenatella a na cumpagna 'e scola [2:57]
'a serenata 'e Pulicenella [3:23]
Miérolo affurtunato [4:08]
'e palumme [2:40]
Luciano Catapano (tenor and guitar)
Gino Evangelista (mandolin)
rec. live, Eglise St-Nicolas, Rougemont, Switzerland, June 2006
CLAVES 502618 [60:42]

The sea and the moon are the twin engines for this disc, the former a sign of journeying and voyage, the latter a time for the illicit and the bacchanal. The songs are Neapolitan, the themes and gestures big, the poetry languorous or lurid, sentimental or sly, vapid or carousing. The performers are both Neapolitan and they’ve been captured in a Swiss concert back in June 2006, armed with voice, guitar and mandolin.
Luciano Catapano has a highish tenor; it’s a voice that reminds one more of Schipa than, say, Gigli though I certainly wouldn’t wish to press that kind of identification too far. It’s a fine vehicle for a kind of refined melancholy such as can be found in Catari' or the melancholy of a railway platform leave-taking in Viviani’s 'o vapore. His Lavannarè'! is infectiously tuneful with some well sprung mandolin accompaniment from Gino Evangelista. Incidentally Viviani is one of the compositional heroes of this recital and it’s a shame that Claves doesn’t give us some biographical details as to composers and lyricists/poets.
For admirers of grisly revenge there’s always Lo cardillo, in which the jealous lover trains his goldfinch to do all manner of things, including plunging a dagger into his faithless lover’s breast. But there is frivolity and charm here as well – and plenty of it. If you turn away from the more abject species of the genre you can easily take refuge in the Di Giacomo/De Leva vehicle 'e spingule frangese – delicious street cry pay off at the end as well. In something such as the Nicolardi/Nardella 'mmiez'ô ggrano we find a touch of the kind of thing evoked by Reynaldo Hahn in his Venetian settings – a plangent warmth.
Instrumentally the guitar-mandolin duo works nicely; the Tarantella is a particularly brisk and jaunty affair, with fine sonority and good ensemble work. Audience applause is sympathetic and the recording is fine. Texts are included – in Italian and English – but perhaps the notes could have done with bulking up; not everyone is versed in the Neapolitan genre.
Jonathan Woolf


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