Katarzyna Dondalska - Keep Talking to Me
Mieczyslaw KARLOWICZ (1876 – 1909)
1. Idzie na pola, Op. 3 No. 2 [1:19]
2. Mów do mnie jeszcze, Op. 3 No. 1 [1:40]
3. Zasmuconej [2:14]
4. Po szerokim morzu [1:32]
5. Rdzawe liscie [0:55]
6. Spi w blaskach nocy, Op. 3 No. 4 [1:39]
7. Skad pierwsze gwiazdy, Op. 1 No. 2 [1:38]
8. Pamietam ciche, jasne, zlote dnie, Op. 1 No. 5 [1:51]
9. Z erotyków, Op. 3 No. 6 [1:01]
10. Przed noca wieczna, Op. 3 No. 5 [1:35]
11. W wieczorna cisze [0:56]
12. Z nowa wiosna [3:12]
Stanislaw MONIUSZKO (1819 – 1872)
13. Piesn Nai [6:26]
14. Latem brzózka mala [1:13]
15. Polna rózyczka [2:18]
16. Zlota rybka [2:41]
17. Grozna dziewczyna [1:45]
18. Piesn wieczorna [2:43]
19. Kwiatek [2:04]
21. Niech sie panie stroja w pasy [1:24]
22. Dumka [2:16]
23. Triolet [2:22]
25. Zosia [2:29]
26. Przasniczka [1:19]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810 – 1849)
5 Lieder aus Op. 74
27. Piosnka litewska, Op. 74 No. 16 [2:25]
28. Moja pieszczotka, Op. 74 No. 12 [2:05]
29. Sliczny chlopiec, Op. 74 No. 8 [2:59]
30. Wiosna, Op. 74 No. 2 [2:19]
31. Zyczenie, Op. 74 No. 1 [1:49]
Fryderyk CHOPIN/Pauline VIARDOT-GARCIA
(1821 – 1910)
aus 12 Mazurkas für Singstimme und Klavier
32. Seize ans [4:09]
33. Aime-moi [3:03]
34. Plainte d’amour [3:11]
35. L’Oiselet [3:22]
36. Coquette [2:24]
Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano); Holger Berndsen (Piano)
rec. August-November 2007, Mechernich-Floisdorf
Sung texts enclosed
TELOS MUSIC TLS 1009 [79:56]
In the Polish history of music Chopin is far from alone; he is only alone in having an international reputation – at least until we reach the 20th century. At that point Karol Szymanowski entered the world stage. After the Second World War a great number of important Polish composers came to the fore: Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Gorecki, maybe also Kilar.
On the present disc we are treated to three 19th century composers from roughly three consecutive generations. The youngest of them, Karlowicz, spills over to the next century. Adam Nowak’s excellent liner-notes give an historical overview of the century from a song-writing point of view. It seems a bit illogical that the music on the disc is presented in reverse order. Not that it matters very much. None of the three can be counted as really important song composers and Chopin’s songs were not intended for public performance. They were published posthumously by his family as Op. 74 but they were written over a long period of time. Moniuszko, who was only nine years younger than Chopin, was first and foremost the ‘father figure’ of Polish opera and his Halka is regarded as the country’s national opera. Karlowicz composed in many genres during his short life; of these genres his songs must be regarded as peripheral.
This is however no criticism of the disc and its content. All the songs here are extremely enjoyable, melodically attractive and charming. It would be a dull world indeed if we always had to listen to masterpieces and brood on underlying meanings. The Edwardian and Victorian song treasury has attracted generations of listeners in England. Erik Satie’s cabaret songs have embellished many a song recital with the audience leaving the hall humming. So these Polish songs should be attractive for simple listening pleasure.
Karlowicz is perhaps the least personal of the three but I enjoyed every one of his songs. Z nowa wiosna (tr. 12), a delicious little waltz, not unlike Satie, is something for my short-list of unknown gems with which to surprise musical friends.
Moniuszko also wrote several pieces in 3/4 time. His melodic inspiration flows even more richly than that of Karlowicz and one feels a strong individual behind them. Try track 17 Grozna dziewczyna, rhythmic and with some syncopation, or track 19 and 20, Kwiatek and Kotekor and even more attractive, track 24 Dalibógze; all so alive and personal.
Chopin’s songs are better known. Even so they could hardly be called standard works. Their popularity hardly registers against that of Schubert, Schumann or Brahms. The typical Chopin melodies we know from his piano works are just as attractive here and the elegance is undeniable.
The last five songs are very special. The legendary singer Pauline Viardot-Garcia, who was also a highly skilled composer, arranged a dozen of Chopin’s mazurkas for voice and piano with texts by Louis Pomey. She simply wanted some good melodies to show off her vocal brilliance. With this in mind she elaborated the vocal line quite extensively to dazzle audiences with her coloratura. Chopin reputedly admired her transcriptions – and rightly so. They are delicious!
Whether Katarzyna Dondalska will reach the fame of Pauline Viardot-Garcia is hard to predict but she is a rapidly rising star in the operatic world; she was a finalist in the Cardiff Singer of the World in 2001. Technically she is well equipped: the voice in itself is attractive – though rather monochrome. She phrases musically and has a fine sense of nuance. Her coloratura is accomplished and she sails effortlessly up in the blue in the concluding mazurkas. She obviously loves these songs and she is partnered by an excellent pianist, Holger Berndsen. The recording is lifelike but I would have preferred the piano to have been a mite further back. I get the feeling that the singer is standing behind the instrument instead of beside it. This slight qualm is perhaps more a question of personal taste.
The texts are printed in the booklet but there are no translations. For a non-Polish listener it is hard to get to grips with the content of the poems. The Viardot-Garcia transcriptions are, on the other hand, settings of French poems.
The disc gave me a lot of pleasure and I will be interested to hear Katarzyna Dondalska again, maybe in operatic repertoire.