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Love: Heaven on Earth
Katarzyna Dondalska (coloratura soprano)
Natan Dondalski (violin)
Monika Dondalska (violin)
Malgorzata Niemiec (viola)
Wiktor Cisoń (cello)
rec. Filharmonia Koszalińska, April/May 2015
Sung texts enclosed but no translations

This is the fourth disc with Katarzyna Dondalska that has come my way for review, and I know there are more. The previous one, Dream with me, reviewed in January this year, was recorded as recently as August 2016, so the present one is a good year older. Katarzyna Dondalska builds her programmes thematically. I am sure she does so with her recital programmes too. A couple of years ago the theme was Nightingale, fitting for a coloratura soprano, and here focus is on Love. As in earlier programmes, she manages to find composers and works a bit off the beaten track. This time there are also some real finds that I will add to my list of “new friends”. She has also chosen to be accompanied by a string quartet instead of a piano, and this works eminently well. The selections on this CD give her opportunities to show off her effortless coloratura technique. Here and there she adds embellishments and interpolates stratospheric notes not found in the original. All this is done with elegance and sometimes tongue-in-cheek. I do not mind, even though Olympia’s aria from Les Contes d’Hoffmann is a bit over the top—but I love it even so.

Juliette’s waltz-aria from Roméo et Juliette is an enticing opening number. No listener can in all likelihood be indifferent to Dondalska’s amazing coloratura. O mio babbino caro, on the other hand, is so touching that interpolated top notes would have been tasteless. She just sings it sensitively and nuanced, and her high pianissimo tones are delicious. Luigi Arditi’s two showpieces are classic nightingale repertoire. Her pinpoint coloratura is phenomenal. Toselli’s Serenade was for many years standard repertoire for restaurant trios everywhere, but it is a song, sentimental yet beautiful, and it is lovely sung here. Lehár contributes two operetta hits and Strauss Jr one. Even though we have heard them uncountable times, we are happy to hear them again. The one from Paganini is not that hackneyed, by the way. In between those arias we find a real gem, unknown to me anyway: Vocalise from Polański’s 1999 film The Ninth Gate. It is enormously beautiful and Dondalska sings it so exquisitely. I have become very fond of Kilar’s music, not least his choral music, but this Vocalise goes straight to my list of favourites.

Franz Grothe, represented on two previous discs with Katarzyna Dondalska, reappears here. A skilled melody-maker, he wrote music for about 170 films. The three songs on this disc are charming. In particular, Immer wenn ich glücklich bin has a really catchy tune. Gerhard Winkler was another German composer of popular music during the same period as Grothe. He had a world hit in 1952 with Mütterlein (in English Answer Me). Komm, Casanova is a charming song too, but the real find, together with Kilar’s Vocalise, is another vocalise by Krzesimir Dębski, composer, conductor and jazz violinist. The vocalise comes from a recording, Ogniem i mieczem, from 1999 which sold Platinum in Poland. Dondalska sings it so beautifully, and her voice blends so deliciously with the strings. I could have danced all night from My Fair Lady is a fine finale, but I have never heard it with such a lot of embellishments.

Lovers of coloratura sopranos will have their fill here. I am completely bowled over by Katarzyna Dondalska’s singing, not only for her technical brilliance but also nuanced readings. The string quartet play well and the recording balance is ideal. I would have liked some information, though, on some of the lesser known composers.

Göran Forsling
Track Listing
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Romeó et Juliette: 1. Je veux vivre [4:02]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Gianni Schicchi: 2. O mio babbino caro [2:23]
Luigi ARDITI (1822-1903)
3. Parla-Waltz [5:50]
Enrico TOSELLI (1883-1926)
4. Serenade [2:20]
5. Il bacio [4:19]
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Paganini: 6. Liebe du Himmel [2:44]
Giuditta: 7. Meine Lippen, die küssen so heiß [5:17]
Wojciech KILAR (1932-2013)
8. Vocalise from The Ninth Gate [3:28]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Die Fledermaus: 9. Mein Herr Marquis [3:33]
Franz GROTHE (1908-1982)
10. Musikanten sind da from Die blonde Carmen [2:47]
11. Immer wenn ich glücklich bin from Immer wenn ich glücklich bin [3:45]
12. Wenn ein junger Mann kommt from Frauen sind doch bessere Diplomaten [3:23]
Krzesimir DĘBSKI (b. 1953)
13. Pieśń Heleny from Ogniem i mieczem [4:45]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
Les Contes d’Hoffmann: 14. Les oiseaux dans la charmille [5:45]
Gerhard WINKLER (1906-1977)
15. Komm, Casanova [3:44]
Frederic LOEWE (1901-1988)
My Fair Lady: 16. I could have danced all night [2:23]



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