It's obvious what kind of singer Dawn Upshaw is before she sets foot on stage.
Upon the Shriver Hall stage Saturday night before her recital sat the piano -- with its lid raised all the way up. This meant she views a song recital as chamber music -- a collaborative effort between singer and pianist. (It was also good sense -- any pianist will tell you it's easier to hear yourself and play more supportively if the lid is completely up.)
Upshaw and her pianist, the superb Margo Garrett, did indeed make their recital of songs by Mozart, Schubert, Griffes, Faure and Ives a superb collaborative affair. The brilliance Schubert wrote into such songs as "Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel" or the clangor that Ives calls upon the piano to make in "The Circus Band" were fully realized. In the exultantly lyrical second, seventh and ninth numbers of the Faure cycle, "La Bonne Chanson," -- in which the piano should take the lead -- Garrett always did. Not all fine singers are fine enough musicians to put the music before their voices. Upshaw clearly is such a singer.