Tito Schipa The Romance of Spain
Platitudes offer themselves in plenty (“Schipa’s exquisite art makes magic of even the most trivial music”, “He has the alchemist’s touch”, “The thinnest shreds and patches of song glisten like a finespun garment when he sings”). But no: it really isn’t true, and the truth itself is depressing to contemplate. That so distinguished a singer, and one whose style has characteristically so much refinement about it, should have been drawn compulsively to such poor music as is predominant in this collection, must to some extent diminish the respect in which he is held. Of a piece with the repertoire is the title: if such a thing as ‘the romance of Spain’ exists it is certainly not to be found in cheap tangos, sentimental banalities and Ay ay ay. A little, a very little, might reward attention: the song by Buzzi-Peccia (La nina querida) has delicacy and charm, the two duets with Emilio de Gogorza have some relationship with authentic folk music, and Victor Herbert’s
It is not even as if they served his art well (as the more vital Neapolitan songs did). The poise and grace of his singing are never completely absent, but they are not prime requirements here. Some of the songs (La partida for instance) display the voice attractively, but others take him down into the husky region of low notes where there is hardly any tone at all. The quality of recorded sound is also variable, but, as the producer’s note points out, several of the items are rare in their original form, including some which were never available in the British catalogues.'