COMPOSERS: Bernstein & Sondheim,Blitzstein,Weill
LABELS: Elektra Nonesuch
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: I Wish It So
WORKS: Songs by Weill, Blitzstein, Bernstein & Sondheim
PERFORMER: Dawn Upshaw (soprano)with orchestra/Eric Stern
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79345-2 DDD
Upshaw’s vibrant sound and her appealing intensity in music as varied as Mozart, Górecki and Copland is intoxicating. But here we find the American singer on home territory, the Broadway musical: repertoire which was surely just waiting for her to happen to it. The producers and orchestrators of this disc have provided care and craftsmanship for Upshaw, and she has delivered a humdinger performance in return. Musical sophistication and accessibility are not mutually exclusive in her output and the vernacular directness of many of these songs, with their fluid vocal lines, makes a startling impact. Sondheim’s ‘There Won’t Be Trumpets’ is feisty; Blitzstein’s ‘In the Clear’ pure reflection and Bernstein’s ‘Glitter and Be Gay’ a tour de force.
In their recital recorded live at Snape, near Aldeburgh, the talented siblings Melanie and Wayne Marshall cover the same repertoire but, apart from Weill’s ‘The Saga of Jenny’, different songs. Gems like Bernstein’s ‘A Little Bit in Love’ and Sondheim’s ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ are included. The highlights in this recital are Wayne’s Gershwin improvisation and the group of five spirituals. Melanie’s warm, stylish mezzo illuminates the group and Wayne rivals Dmitri Alexeev (on EMI’s Barbara Hendricks spirituals disc) for keyboard dexterity and mesmerising improvisational skill. Elise McDougall