Upshaw explores the legacy of Broadway's storied composer team; guests include Audra McDonald and Fred Hersch. The Independent (UK) says “it's invariably charming and stylish, and when she sings about turning Manhattan into 'an isle of joy' it's surprisingly touching.”
Dawn Upshaw returns to the world of music theater for her sixth solo Nonesuch release, a highly personal selection from the Rodgers & Hart songbook. Fifteen tunes—from the duo’s first hit “Manhattan” to their last great ballad “Nobody’s Heart”—trace the rich development of the songwriting team that redefined the Broadway song from the 1920s until the 1940s.
Featuring a varied set of arrangements, the collection joins Upshaw with a team of new and familiar Nonesuch collaborators, including conductor Eric Stern; the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; pianist Fred Hersch; soprano Audra McDonald; and baritone David Garrison. The recording is produced by Tommy Krasker.
“Few opera singers have ever seemed so convincing—and comfortable—in the Broadway idiom” wrote TIME magazine in what was to be the first of many accolades for Upshaw’s first music theater collection, I Wish It So. The disc went on to win the 1995 Gramophone Award in Music Theatre as well as Best of the Year distinctions from The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Independent on Sunday, among others.
Simultaneously, Upshaw’s opera and recital recordings and international appearances place her among today’s most sought-after sopranos. With Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers & Hart, this most American of singers reaffirms her love for and identification with the Golden Age of musical theater, one of many stages that she occupies. In the words of Diapason, “Dawn Upshaw is the voice of the century, on the most bewitching path.”
ABOUT RODGERS AND HART
New Yorkers from opposite sides of the tracks, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart met in 1919. Rodgers, at 16 just entering Columbia University, and Hart, at 24 just establishing his career, first collaborated on several university productions and fledgling Broadway ventures before their first success in 1925, Garrick Gaieties. Featuring the song “Manhattan,” it served as the springboard for their songwriting partnership, and was followed by A Connecticut Yankee (1927), On Your Toes (1936), Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys from Syracuse (1938); and Pal Joey (1940). The team continued through 1943, when Hart died at the age of 47.
Together Rodgers, who was to go on to Oklahoma and South Pacific, and Hart, “the Laureate of Lyrics,” elevated the level of Broadway song from lightweight entertainment to witty, often poignant, commentaries. They avoided the obvious rhyme or cadence, preferring instead something memorable. “Everything you fellows write is clever,” once complained the legendary impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, wanting just a simple hit.
Rodgers and Hart scored enough of these, however, including such standards as “I Could Write a Book” and “It Never Entered My Mind” and show-stoppers like “Thou Swell” and “Mountain Greenery.” Upshaw also re-introduces several little-known songs on this collection, like the ballad “He Was Too Good To Me”; the original Hugh Martin arrangement of “Sing For Your Supper”, in which Upshaw takes all three parts; the delightfully naughty “Twinkle in Your Eye”; “Ev’ry Sunday Afternoon”, a rarely recorded song about tryst-planning among domestic staff; and “You’re Nearer,” which was introduced by Lucille Ball in the film Too Many Girls.
Produced by Tommy Krasker
Recorded June 1995 at the Hit Factory, New York City
Recorded and mixed by Joel Moss
Assistant Engineers: Carl Glanville and Drake Ayen
Edited by Paul Zinman, SoundByte Productions, New York City
Mixed at Signet Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Assistant Engineer: Rich Weingart
Mastered by Ric Wilson, Digisonics, Tarzana, CA
Music by Richard Rodgers; lyrics by Lorenz Hart. Track 1, 3 arr. Eric Stern, orch. Russell Warner; track 4 vocal arr. Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, orch. Larry Wilcox; track 5 orch. Eric Stern; track 6 orch. Don Walker, restored by Larry Moore; tracks 7, 8 orch. Russell Warner; track 10 arr. Fred Hersch; track 11 orch. Hans Spialek; track 14 orch. Russell Warner
Design by Henrietta Condak
Illustrations by Sara
Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz
Dawn Upshaw, vocals
Eric Stern, conductor
Fred Hersch, piano (2, 9, 10, 12, 15)
David Garrison, vocals (6)
Audra McDonald, vocals (10)
Drew Gress, bass (10)
Matt Wilson, drums (10)
Orchestra of St. Luke’s (3):
Violin: Suzanne Ornstein, concertmaster; Alicia Edelberg, Martin Agee, Joyce Hammann, Mitchell Stern, Katherine Livolsi, Eric DeGioia, Xin Zhao
Viola: Ron Carbone, Lois Martin, David Cerutti, Mitsue Takayama
Cello: Clay Ruede, David Calhoun
Bass: John Beal
Woodwind: Elizabeth Mann, Les Scott, Rick Heckman, Chuck Wilson, Robert Ingliss, John Moses
Horn: Ronald Sell, contractor; Russell Rizner
Trumpet: Robert Millikan, Tony Kadleck
Trombone: James Pugh
Drums: John Redsecker
Percussion: Eric Charleston
Piano: Leslie Stifelman
Harp: Jennifer Hoult