Sunday, February 26, 2012

CD Review – Solitary Treasures, by Darlene Koldenhoven

Darlene Koldenhoven’s latest album not only serves as a wonderful showcase for the Grammy Award-winning singer’s impressive five-octave vocal range, but also provides a great mix of classical and pop standards and tunes that will appeal to most musical tastes.

The CD offers Koldenhoven’s interpretations of everything from “Nessun Dorma” and “Lo Specchio” to “Kiss from a Rose” and a suite from the Twilight movies. The result is an absorbing and exhilarating listening experience that never lets up from beginning to end.

Koldenhoven, who has lent her vocal talents to albums by several superstars and performed as a featured soloist on Yanni’s globally popular PBS Acropolis special, has an incredible voice that charms, enraptures, and takes the breath away. Rarely have I been so captivated by a singer throughout an entire album.

A great deal of the CD’s effectiveness owes to the rich, lush orchestration and instrumentation of the music. Koldenhoven also produces and sequences many of the tracks in addition to masterfully playing piano and is backed by both a solid rock rhythm section and a symphony. This gives the album the feel of classic records from the 1950s and 1960s, but with a modern sensibility.

Song highlights include “Kiss from a Rose,” which is fairly faithful to Seal’s original hit single but features a trippy version of the bridge with both a children’s and an adult choir; a Twilight medley that is creepily romantic (although it has no lyrics, Koldenhoven’s vocal affectations are appropriately haunting); “Ay Carino” (I don’t understand a word of it, but Koldenhoven’s sultry Spanish vocalization thoroughly entices me); the piano-based instrumental “Lucid See”; and “The Prayer” from The Quest for Camelot.

Favorites notwithstanding, every song on this CD is a stunner, thanks to Koldenhoven’s golden voice, the impeccable musicianship, the high technical quality of the recordings, and the pedigree of many of the tunes. No matter your musical taste, this is really a winner.

--Raj Manoharan

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