With this second volume of Tosti’s songs, Brilliant Classics takes listeners just half-way through a prodigious, career-long output, in which the key-notes are unfailingly memorable melody, lively charm and a gift for story-telling that rivals the very greatest song-writers past and present, from Schubert to Dylan.
Many of his songs have never been recorded, so this set makes a unique contribution to the catalogue. The booklet contains an extensive introduction to the project by Francesco Sanvitale, the scholar who devised the project and in whose memory it is being gradually realised and published after his untimely death in 2014.
There are a few French songs on Vol 2, reflecting Tosti’s great popularity in Paris, but most of the texts here are by Italian poets, mostly contemporaries such as D’Annunzio and Panzacchi. The discs work chronologically through the decade 1886-1895, during which time he was singing teacher to the English royal family. Perhaps in deference to his pupils, there are songs by the likes of Longfellow and Weatherly: the last disc concludes with his delicately wistful setting of In the Hush of the Night.
The first volume on Brilliant Classics BC95201) of this extraordinary project won wide critical praise. ‘All the singers are careful over nuances,’ remarked MusicWeb International. ’Tosti’s songs have, through the years, been bawled out of recognition by leather-lunged tenors, and it is a blessing to hear so many beautiful pianissimos and diminuendos in this repertoire. The accompaniments are discreet and the recording is well-balanced and natural-sounding.’ This set will be an essential acquisition for all lovers of art-song.
The booklet includes liner notes in English and Italian, the sung texts are available on the Brilliant Classics website.
This is the second instalment of a huge enterprise, a world premiere: the recording of the complete songs by Tosti!
Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) worked in poverty as a music teacher till he met the influential composer Giovanni Sgambati, who became his mentor. He introduced Tosti to Princess Margherita of Savoy, who became later queen of Italy. She was impressed by him and appointed him as royal music teacher. In 1875 Tosti went to London where his fame spread, and he was made Singing Master of the Royal family.
Tosti is known for his vast quantity of light, expressive songs, which are characterised by natural, singable melodies of a charming and sweet sentiment. They became immensely popular and Tosti made a fortune with them.
This new project is produced by the Tosti Institute in Italy, presenting an impressive line of excellent Italian singers: Monica Bacelli, Desirée Rancatore, Jurgita Adamonité, Piotr Lempa, Mark Milhofer, Benedetta Torre, Eugene Villanueva, the pianists include Marco Scolastra, Antonio Ballista, Luisa Prayer and Marco Moresco.