EDWARD SECKERSON'S choice If success can be measured by the number of times you listen to a disc, then Dawn Upshaw's Broadway collection I Wish It So (Elektra Nonesuch 7559-79345-2) is out there on its own. This marvellous album has nothing whatever to do with the cheerful slumming of what is generally - and so irritatingly - referred to as "crossover". A song's a song, whatever the source, and great songs come alive in the singing. It's all a matter of style and belief. You'd never credit that Upshaw hails from the "operatic" sector. She instinctively reins in her soprano voice, she's perfected the Broadway "mix" between head and chest, she aches for these melodies; and from the way she sells a lyric, you'd imagine she'd just that moment discovered it. There's plenty to discover. Great songs by Weill, Blitzstein, Bernstein and Sondheim - some you may not have heard at all, most you'll want to hear again.
The same has proved true of DG's revelatory set of the complete Samuel Barber Songs (435 867-2) with Cheryl Studer, Thomas Hampson and the pianist John Browning (plus the Emerson String Quartet in Dover Beach). Like any great, natural songwriter, Barber
could heighten one's awareness of a poem without upstaging it. He had a nose for the right texts, and in his sensitivity to words he found treasure in the tiniest nuance. He seemed to grow with the word. The range and consistency of the collection is astonishing. I had no idea what I'd been missing.
One more American makes my hit list: Paul Schoenfield, a young composer who appears to have absorbed the whole Jewish-American vernacular into his own musical persona and still come through with something absolutely, irresistibly …