Alright, fine, I know Osvaldo Golijov's Three Songs for soprano and orchestra are forever linked to the Upshaw, who premiered them and for whom they were written. Far be it from me to question the Upshaw's status as supreme Golijov soprano, I've never heard her sing any so I'm in no position to make any kind of comment. What I can comment on, however, is the second soprano ever to perform them. She is, of course, the divine Patricia Wright, who could surely cause even the most devout Upshaw acolyte momentarily to forget their idol. How can songs composed specifically for a certain voice be so perfectly suited to a very different one? I don't know. But they are. She inhabits them, owns them, and sings up a storm, golden and glorious. She captures perfectly the spirit, the ecstasy, the haunting beauty of each song, and her engagement with each text, be it Yiddish, Gallego or English, is complete, and captivatingly so. I don't think, incidentally, that I've ever been quite so overcome by a singer's way with the English language. Sometimes all we can ask is that a singer be capable of making his or herself understood in English but Patricia again and again makes a convincing argument for English as a truly musical language. Her performance of the final song, (a setting of two short Emily Dickinson poems - which reminded me once again how perfect I think Copland's Emily Dickinson songs would be for Patricia) 'How slow the wind', was heart-stopping. They're all three of them truly incredible songs and I am utterly enchanted.
And it gets even better. Next month I'm going to Christchurch to hear her perform with the Christchurch Symphony - and she's singing some Chants d'Auvergne and these three songs. If they're this killingly beautiful on radio then I can hardly begin to imagine the wondrousness of a live performance. The concert was an exciting enough prospect before I'd heard these songs; now it's almost too much to bear.