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Me and My World
Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano)
Marc Secara (vocal), Maksym Dondalski (violin)
Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii Koszalińskiej im. Stanislawa Moniuszki/Stefan Johannes Walter
rec. 2018, Filharmonia Koszalińska, Poland

Since April 2010 I have reviewed four discs with Polish soprano Katarzyna Dondalska, here, here, here and here. Here is her latest and it is a real tour de force in coloratura equilibristics. Maybe at the sacrifice of musical substance, but everyone with a liking of nightingales and canaries (one of her earlier discs was titled Nightingale) will have his/her fill of excursions up in the blue. The repertoire is mainly light classics, evergreens, film music and even some video game music. She opens with a couple of Mancini waltzes, including Moon River. The orchestral arrangements are rather overblown but Ms Dondalska’s stratospheric flights are as impressive as ever. In Le Jazz Hot she indulges in some popular music activities, but her rhythmic security is striking. Krzesimir Dębski’s Helena’s Song is a beautiful melody, first sung as a vocalise, then with text and with her vocalise in the background. The effect is beguiling and the singing impressive.

Gilbert & Sullivan may seem an unexpected choice but it suits her perfectly and she embellish the tune with some weightless coloratura. The Paganini piece, the adagio movement from his fourth violin concerto is a duet for soprano and violin, and it works eminently though I would have liked Maksym Dondalski’s violin to have been more closely balanced. By the way Kata, as she is called in her circle of friends, started her musical career as a violinist at the age of five. More British music follows, Julius Benedict’s traditional showpiece Carnival of Venice, where the final top note is almost unbelievable. Richard Rodgers’s Out of my Dreams from Oklahoma! is beautifully sung and then comes a composer she obviously has taken to her heart, the German Franz Grothe. He wrote a lot of film music, including the score for a German film about the “Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind. A song from that film was included in her Nightingale album. Grothe was an excellent tunesmith and in this czardas he invites the soprano to excel in some truly dramatic and temperamental singing. The classic An der schönen blauen Donau is quite overwhelming, and after these fireworks she deserves a short rest, while the orchestra plays a piece by conductor Stefan Johannes Walter, entertaining but rather noisy. His beautiful Vocalise is more to my taste. Peter Kreuder was enormously popular as pianist and composer in the 1930s and his popularity lasted even after the war. Man muss den Männern was bieten is a gently swinging song.

Wojciech Kilar, one of the most prominent Polish composers during the second half of the 20th century, wrote, besides symphonic and choral music, quite a lot of film music and this waltz is from a 1975 movie The Promised Land, directed by Andrzej Wajda. It’s one of the highlights here. Katarzyna Dondalska’s signature operatic role is The Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Here she performs the aria Der Hölle Rache in a rock-version and adds some extra coloratura. It’s fascinating, though I hope she will sings the original on her next album, which also should include her Rosina from Il barbiere di Siviglia and Zerbinetta from Ariadne auf Naxos. Me and my World, by Stefan Johannes Walter, is another rock number, while Illusion is a nice ballad where Ms Dondalska is partnered by Marc Secara, who has a very agreeable voice. The final number is an example of video game music – a genre I have no experience of. It is big symphonic music where the coloratura soprano is an extra ingredient.

Not all classical singers are comfortable in other genres, but Katarzyna Dondalska not only has wide preferences, she also sounds equally at home in a jazz ballad, a rock number and a classical song. And her technical brilliance and enormous height is stunning. Readers who have already fallen under her spell can safely invest in this latest offering, those who haven’t should give her a try. Maybe the Nightingale album is the best starting point, but you will be just as overwhelmed by her singing here. I’m already waiting for her next issue. An opera recital, Kata?

Göran Forsling
Henry MANCINI (1924 – 1994)
1. Mancini Waltzes: Moon River, The Sweetheart Tree [5:15]
2. Le Jazz Hot! [2:27]
Krzesimir DĘBSKI (b. 1953)
3. Pieśń Heleny (Helena’s song) [4:43]
Arthur SULLIVAN (1842 – 1900)
4. Poor Wandering One from “The Pirates of Penzance” [3:35]
Nicolo PAGANINI (1782 – 1840)/Tomasz MATUSZEWSKI (?) (arr: Stefan Johannes Walter)
5. Concerto for Violin no. 4 – Adagio [3:38]
Julius BENEDICT (1804 – 1885) (arr: Stefan Johannes Walter)
6. Carnival of Venice [5:06]
Richard RODGERS (1902 – 1979)
7. Out of my Dreams from “Oklahoma!” [2:49]
Franz GROTHE (1908 – 1982)
8. Ich träume immer nur von dem Einen from the film “Ihr größter Erfolg“
Johann STRAUSS II (1825 – 1899)
9. An der schönen blauen Donau [6:44]
Stefan Johannes WALTER (b. 1968)
10. Finale – Bows. No. 13 from “Schneeglöckchen und Naseweiss” [2:13]
11. Vokalise für Sopran und Orchester [4:12]
Peter KREUDER (1905 – 1981)
12. Man muss den Männern was bieten [2:53]
Wojciech KILAR (1932 – 2013)
13. Waltz from Ziemia obiecana (The Land of Promise) [4:37]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)/Stefan Johannes WALTER
14. Der Hölle Rache The Queen of the Night’s aria (No. 14) from Die Zauberflöte – Rock-Version [3:29]
Stefan Johannes WALTER
15. To ja i mój świat (Me and my World) [3:39]
16. Illusion [4:43]
Russell BROWER (?)/Derek DUKE (?)/Jason HAYES (?)
17. World of Warcraft [6:16]

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