Di Stefano sings Neopolitan Songs

Author: 
Guest

Di Stefano sings Neopolitan Songs

  • 'O sole mio
  • Marechiare
  • Dicitencello vuie
  • Tu, ca nun chiagne!
  • I' te vurria vasà
  • Core 'ngrato
  • Torna a Surriento
  • Silenzio cantatore
  • Chiove
  • 'O paese d' 'o sole
  • Santa Lucia lontana
  • Maria, marì
  • 'E pallume
  • Fenesta che lucive
  • 'Na sera 'e maggio
  • Voce 'e notte!
  • Autunno
  • Santa Lucia
  • Senza nisciuno
  • Piscatore 'e pusilleco
  • O Marenariello
  • Funiculì-Funiculà
  • Luna nova
  • Mamma mia, che vo' sapè
  • Torna!
  • Carmela, 'Canto Sorrentino'
  • Guapparia
  • Mandulinata a Napule
  • I' m'arricordo 'e Napule
  • Pecchè?
  • Anema e core
  • Me so' 'mbriacato 'e sole
  • Vurria
  • Lolita, '(The) Spanish Serenade'
  • Ideale
  • (L')ultima canzone
  • Aprile
  • Luna d'estate
  • (La) serenata
  • Mattinata, '(L')aurora di bianco vestita'
  • Non t'amo più!
  • Malià
  • Chanson de l'adieu
  • 'A Vucchella
  • Musica proibita

Open-minded, even indulgent, where Monteverdi and Purcell are concerned, I am a stickler for authenticity in Tosti and De Curtis. Shimmering strings and Straussian brass we do not want. Crafty counterpoint is out! And hands off those harmonies!
A great many – in fact almost all – of the arrangements used in these recordings leave a nasty taste in the mouth: a kind of cheap luxury about them, the ballroom of some glossy hotel, a takeover of Naples by Hollywood. The perpetrators are not named, but the first are worst, and a few of the later ones, using mandolins and a chorus with tremulous sopranos, are just about tolerable.
Then there is the tenor, the more or less sine qua non. Giuseppe di Stefano is, as Peter Hutchinson’s thoughtful booklet-notes proclaim, a singer with a flair for communication: if you don’t understand the words he is singing, something in his style insists that you look them up, that it’s worth finding out about rather than just letting it waft around vaguely as a bit of Mediterranean ‘atmosphere’. He is also generous with his magnificent voice – some might say too generous, but these are not songs for half-measures or for prudently covered vowels and top-notes. There is a kind of refinement proper to them (hear recordings of Fernando de Lucia and Mattia Battistini) of which he has little more than an inkling (as in Tosti’s Malia); even with the later generation in mind his style lacks the imaginative quality that made theirs so personal and endearing (compare him with Gigli in Santa Lucia lontana, with Pertile in Mattinata or with Schipa in Mandolinata ’e Napule). Again, the setting, the orchestration and harmonic arrangements, make a further difference. In that last song, Mandolinata ’e Napule, the synopsis tells how “a young Neapolitan serenades his sweetheart to the accompaniment of a mandolin”. But of course he doesn’t: instead, he has a symphony orchestra, with strings a-swirl to whip up the excitement.
These recordings come from early LPs and do not include the 78s; those, or a straight reissue of EMI’s album, “The Young di Stefano”, would be welcome. I find the 1953 recordings harsh, and in spite of the fresher condition of the voice its effect is less appealing, as reproduced here, than in the latest of the sessions, July 1961. If one of the discs has to be taken, the other left, then I would recommend the second.'

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019