"I've played capitals before -- Albany, London, Paris--but never this capital, not our capital," said Blossom Dearie yesterday afternoon in the Corcoran's cozy Armand Hammer Auditorium.

With the lights unusually low, this tiny-voiced singer and songwriter quietly moved to the piano and, in two beguiling hours, proved one thing beyond doubt: Albany's good fortune has come at Washington's expense.

Dearie's intimate performance in the Corcoran's Great American Songwriters series was a departure from previous concerts. Rather than concentrate on her own work or the work of a specific composer, she presented a wonderfully diverse program. She sang songs old and new, ranging from the wistful ("Lush Life") to the whimsical (two very amusing lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) to longtime favorites (Dave Frishberg's "I'm Hip" and her own collaboration with Johnny Mercer, "I'm Shadowing You").

Accompanying herself with a light, melodic touch on piano, Dearie imbued some songs with a childlike charm that never became coy or precious. Other times she sang with warm sensitivity, creating, in her distinctly subdued fashion, a tender spell that remained unbroken until the final note gave way to applause.

The series concludes next Sunday with the American debut of British vocalist Sandra King.