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A CD called ‘Prima’

reviewed by Gertraut

It is in my hands, that silvery CD, Donna Malone’s first! And it’s range is from Classics  to Irish Trad. and to Gershwin. And do I love it!

Starting with Giulio Caccini’s ‘Ave Maria’, a composition that I would call a sleeper (Caccini lived from around 1550 to 1618 and was noticed for his new way of writing embellishments for his musical pieces), it was rediscovered in the nineties. Using only two words for the lyrics, it embroiders the whole Ave in your heart… Simply lovely sung in that opera-singers voice she has.

The Traditional ‘Cliffs of Doneen’ follows and listening to this beautiful voice makes you feel like you are really standing up there and looking around you, seeing the beautiful view, the flowers, the little animals around you and in the end saying goodbye to the Cliffs of Doneen…Another lovely one.

‘Oh! Mio babbino caro, mi piace, è bello, bello’; this is Laurettas beautiful aria, sung to her father in the Puccini-Opera Gianni Schicci, telling him that she loves Rinuccio so much that she rather wants to die than leave him. She sings it so beautiful that you can believe her being in earnest… Shall we say lovely again?

‘My Singing Bird’ is next, A Traditional Air, lyrics by Edith Wheeler and it tells about how the own singing bird stands out against all others, ‘for there’s none of them can sing so sweet, my singing bird, as you’… Yes. Right.  Beautiful.

The next one baffled me at first until I found out that it is in Gaelic: Phil Phil a Rún Ó, another Traditional. It sounds plaintive and beautiful, but I need Donna to tell me more about it!

A medley follows. Now I do not like medleys very much, they always make me long to hear the whole songs but this does them fairly justice, and at the end of these four songs I can only say with the lyrics: ‘When Irish Eyes are smiling, they steal your heart away!’

A tune follows, that is slightly haunting to me: ‘My Lagan Love’. This is a Traditional  composed by Seosamh Mac.Cathamhaoil, the words by Joseph Campbell. It is full of longing and very impressive, I last heard it on Deirdre’s CD and whoever sings it of these two ladies, it has a special quality, it makes my hair stand on end.

And now follows an especially lovely one: ‘Katie’. What is it with these Jimmy Mc.Carthy Songs, that they move my heart so much? These reminiscences are so lovely and heartbroken and make you homesick and when Donna sings …’come running home, again, Katie, come running home again, cross my heart and hope to die, shall I cause another tear from your eye?’  you can picture it in your mind. So lovely.

And now I am at a loss for more praise: ‘Song for Ireland’, by Phil Colclough. Lovely, lovely, lovely…And this song had the ability to make me cry. The lovely music, combined with the beautiful lyrics is a big praise for Donna’s Home Country.  I had not heard it before and was unprepared for it’s onslaught on my heart. Done in a soft voice, you believe the love she feels for it when she sings…’ I stood by your Atlantic Sea and sang a song for Ireland…’ A little standing ovation there?

‘Hear the wind blow, love, hear the wind blow?’ This “Connemara Cradle Song” from around 1850 sings of the sorrow for the wives and children of the fishermen, when they are out at sea and the family watches for them and you ‘lean your head over and hear the wind blow’… You can picture them, as Donnna sings.

‘Laudate Dominum’, omnes gentes: laudate eum omnes populi….W. A. Mozart.
This is the one piece I have been waiting for from the beginning of the CD as an ardent Mozart-lover and she does it justice. A chorus in the background is needed and provided for and her voice soars over it to the last Amen. So beautiful to listen to.

And then it ended and the next one was so different, that I had difficulties picturing Donna in the role of Clara, singing the lullaby to her baby in Gershwins ‘Porgy and Bess’: “Summertime”. Now I know and love this opera since I don’t know how many years. But I am simply unable to put Donna into the role. She sings it beautifully, but in my mind I hear her sing it with a little Irish Lilt!?!  Now that’s impossible.

I know what I’ll do: Next time I will not listen to it right after Mozart or Song for Ireland. Just solo. Maybe then I can  see her in my mind as the black mother lovingly hushing her little one in the vast fields of the American South…

Well, to sum it up, there is only one thing to say:  A lovely young girl with an unexpected mature voice has recorded a wonderful collection of arias, Trad. and songs. Please, go on like that, dear ‘Prima Donna’ and thank you for that beautiful singing, we appreciate it!