Carlo BUTI
Una Vita per la Canzone, Clama ML-22

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Was there ever a more sweet-voiced singer than Carlo Buti ? Probably not. Some operatic singers too have that honey-voiced timbre that one knocks over immediately. One thinks of Giuseppe Anselmi and Alessandro Bonci at the start of the 20th century. During the interbellum Italy had a whole range of tenore di grazia with Roberto D’Alessio, Luigi Fort, Nino Ederle and Giovanni Manuritta. And with Ferruccio Tagliavini and later Ugo Benelli and Michael Theodore the post-war generations too were well served. Nowadays we have to treasure Joseph Calleja. Still, operatic singing is not a natural way of singing. One has to struggle with an orchestra often in cadaverous theatres. Even if one limits oneself to L’Amico Fritz or La Sonnambula the voice will coarsen. Therefore if one has a divine timbre avoiding opera and singing with a microphone is the only possible solution if one wants to keep the shine and beauty of the voice. That’s what Buti did though I have an inkling that his voice for all its unparalled sweetness was rather a short one. He recorded only a few operatic arias (Beppe’s “O Colombina” and Loris’ “Amor ti vieta”) which do not ask for a note higher than a G. (they can be found on CD Clama ML-3, together with a series of Neapolitan songs, canzone italiane and ….fascist songs). Maurizio Tiberi of Timaclub (with its Clama Label) has made it his task to publish as much as possible of this wonderful singer. His latest edition nrs. 8 and 9 have now appeared (Clama ML-22). That means almost 200 recordings of Buti and still ……600 to go (in his biography of Buti, Tiberi reminded us that while Gigli’s output took 6 pages in the prewar catalogue of Voce del Padrone, Buti was worth 23 pages). Is there still a public for the singer ? Definitely, and just as in pre-war days the enormous sale of Buti-recordings, often more in South-America and the US where Italians were more wealthy than in Italy proper, could pay for some operatic recordings, so it are the sales of Buti and other historical pop singers that make it possible to produce some very interesting Clama-recordings by singers like Lucia Danieli, Agosto Ferrin or Augusto Ferrauto.

Now what do we get on these two CD’s under review ? A mixture of Italian covers of famous international songs (“J’attendrai”, “La vie en rose”) plus a lot of Neapolitan and Italian songs composed by names who are at the same time very familiar to us (Manlio, De Curtis, Bovio, Murolo) due to songs recorded by great Italian tenors though we only know a small part of their output. Buti sings these lesser known ditties with all his customary charm, his judicious use of piano, mezza-voce, perfect legato and sometimes, only sometimes, a few forte notes. One has to keep in mind that these songs were originally recorded as 78’s and nobody in those days would probably have thought of playing 40 songs one after another. Therefore it is possible that after a song of 10 the listener can have his fill for a moment of the relentless sweetness and think that the amount of sugary singing will do for the moment. But then one hears a song like “Il piannino di Napoli” with its mentioning of all great Neapolitan songs of the past and once again one is won over and after all Buti provides for more easy listening than an operatic recital with the same amount of tracks. Maurizio Tiberi is especially proud to have discovered a little known Argentine 25-inch record made by Buti in 1953.  Due to his good singing and microphone technique Buti is still able to sound almost as beautiful twenty years after his début as in his early days. Of course some of the sheen of the young voice has disappeared a little bit; the overtones are maybe still a bit less rich but this is still vintage Buti and the voice of the singer has aged better than his Corsican (and Corse is more Italian than French) follower Tino Rossi. Therefore if one wants to hear an incredibly beautiful timbre in lighter songs one would do well to purchase one of the Clama-issues. I’m sure you will be hooked on and you’ll purchase the rest of the collection. There is only one complaint to be made: as with some of his operatic issues the interesting sleeve notes by Tiberi are in Italian only. I cannot believe that only Italians are interested by this kind of heavenly sounds.

Jan Neckers