Dawn Upshaw - A Recital
The song recital recorded here brings together five composers of vastly different persuasions. There is Ives, the inspired maverick, the first composer who captured the "feel" of America in music; Weill, who began life composing important "classical" scores and spent the last ten years of his life writing for movies and Broadway; Rachmaninoff, whose four great piano concerti are known the world over; Strauss, Germany’s last all-around genius; and Hugo Wolf, the only one among the five who devoted himself to the song (or rather Lied, we would say in his case) to the exclusion of almost everything else.
While it is interesting to hear a singer's first steps along the way to fame, they often have to be listened to with an indulgent ear. The disc is fascinating for mapping out Upshaw's future progress. .
A certain sense of child-like tone isn't inappropriate to Strauss's three Ophelia songs, the pathos in the writing of the unhinged teenager nicely caught, but Rachmaninov's outpourings really call for a fuller sound. Much more recommendable than any of these are the two Ives and Weill settings. I like the wistfulness Upshaw brings to Ives's Berceuse and the quirky originality of The World's Highway. Upshaw's voice even today may not be the ideal to present the wry, sophisticated mood of Kurt Weill, but she certainly gets inside the typical cynicism of the Berlin im Licht song and she manages the bittersweet mood of Je ne t'aime pas, though not to the extent of von Otter. Margo Garrett is an adept partner - or "collaborative pianist", as she is described in the booklet, The recording is more than adequate. I might recommend this disc to Upshaw enthusiasts... the Weill and/or Ives items would be enticing on their own.