CATARÌ, MAGGIO, L'AMMORE... (Caterina, May, Love...) A man speaks about himself, his everyday hardships but also the joys of love. Some of the loveliest and most famous Neapolitan songs, which paint a deeply human picture of a world that has now been lost. Or forgotten.
Catarì, Maggio, l'Ammore... by Marco Beasley
...Ah, it was so pleasant to be seated at a table in the garden of the pizzeria “La Lucerna”, on a magnificent terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples, admiring the landscape, gradually growing more idyllic in the rays of the late afternoon sun. From there, the noise of the city’s chaotic traffic was imperceptible. Portici stood out clearly, its royal park dominated by la Muntagna – Vesuvius. A little further away, Sorrento, with its villas and palaces mirrored in the calm waters of the bay, gleamed in the light of the setting sun. Slowly and almost as if trying to avoid disturbing the peacefulness of the scene, subdued voices approached. Voices of Naples. I thought: “They must have sung so many songs, so many loving words...” These voices replied in my head: "Love is something you learn as you go along in life. These songs exist as a means of expressing all the feelings that would otherwise be hard to communicate, out of shyness, or perhaps modesty. Great poets wrote the words we sing, Salvatore Di Giacomo, Eduardo de Filippo, Libero Bovio, Totò... And the music? Ernesto De Curtis, E. A. Mario, maybe even Donizetti... They used their passion and their artistry to make love’s moods more real, to keep alive the sounds and dreams of a city and to remind us (and themselves) that, wherever we are, we must live. So if you too sing and play, do it in good spirits, be happy. And remember that Life is just a glimmer of light and who knows if in the afterlife we will meet... Who knows if in the afterlife there are taverns...” "Yes, that's true - I thought - who knows if in the afterlife...?”
The "Canzone Napoletana" by Antonello Paliotti
The canzone napoletana or neapolitan song is something of a mystery. Everybody speaks about it, but no-one manages to define it with precision. We know what Bossa Nova is, we are able to describe the genre in its time and place; we can speak about Fado, about Rap or Blues, but the ‘canzone napoletana’ escapes every uniform category: five centuries and more of musical history render vane and useless every attempt to catalogue, every final and conclusive assertion. After all, what really is a Villanella? Is it simply the archetype of a certain kind of song, or an autonomous genre with its own history, that lasted for over a century? And what about the tarantella? Is it a dance in 6 or 12/8 rythm, born to accompany dancing couples in costume behind their plates of maccheroni, or that obscure, mythical dance in 4/4 practiced for therapeutical purposes? And when exactly did the ‘canzone napoletana’ come into existence? Is it a phenomenon connected to a particular, local market, or is it a global phenomenon? Can we bring Santa Lucia, a song written in the 19th century, and Terra mia by Pino Daniele together under one single definition? What do a fronna, an improvised tune tipically sung under prison walls to dialogue with the inmates, and a playfully allusive canzonetta performed in a salon have in common? The question is a more than open one, and (fortunately) very far from being resolved and consigned to the necrophily of archives, of museums, of the Institutions for the Safeguarding of Tradition. It is important, however, when we speak of the canzone napoletana, to be aware of its many aspects, its very distinct history, of the developments, transformations and derivations that the music of our city has undergone in the sixteenth century. The clear voice of Marco Beasley, his interpretation that is both gentle and heartfelt, have inspired the modality of my accompaniment. I have therefore often preferred a ‘classical’ style of accompaniment (in for example Malafemmena, Serenata Napulitana, Munasterio ‘e Santa Chiara) and only in same cases have I treated the harmonies more liberally ( ‘O surdato nnamurato, Te voglio bene assaje, etc.) The two pieces I have composed myself, however, are presented for the first time in this form, whereas the Villanella a Ballo has been restored to its original guise, from the first edition of ‘Gatta Cenerentola’ by Roberto de Simone.
Marco Beasley voice Antonello Paliotti guitar and arrangements