Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Change of Heart: The Songs of André PrevinTelarc TEL-34021-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2


Michael Feinstein is a singer and pianist, but he is also, and perhaps primarily, an archivist of the Great American Songbook. Channel surfing the other day, I stumbled on Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, which PBS first broadcast in 2010. Feinstein was visiting the Gershwin archives in San Francisco (they’ve since been moved to the Library of Congress). Feinstein was a friend of Ira Gershwin’s, and his extensive research of Gershwin’s recordings and sheet music helped ensure that the legacies of Ira and his brother George would be accurately and fully preserved.

Feinstein has recorded many discs of songs by his favorite songwriters, and has even, on occasion, been accompanied by them. In the liner notes to Change of Heart: The Songs of André Previn, he relates Previn’s reaction to his suggestion that they record an album together: “[H]is first response was concern that there wasn’t enough significant material to fill an album!” Feinstein convinced him by launching a “verbal assault” of titles of songs Previn had written.

Previn and bassist David Finck, who coproduced the disc with Feinstein, accompany the singer, and the result is an intimate recording of a dozen Previn songs. Feinstein is not a jazz singer; he doesn’t play with the melody or rhythm. He caresses the melody, and the feelings he expresses in a song flow out of the lyric. He brings just the right hint of light jauntiness to “Give a Little More,” from the soundtrack to Valley of the Dolls, and his gentle yet emotional performance of “Yes” is one of the most moving tracks here. Like an actor, Feinstein finds the core that defines a lyric and brings it out clearly. His job is easy when the lyricist is Previn’s ex-wife, the late Dory Previn (1929-2012), herself a singer-songwriter, who cowrote ten of these songs.

André Previn’s piano solos give these recordings any touch of jazz they have -- not surprising, given Previn’s long history in the music. He and Finck give Feinstein the room he needs, and his voice is the center of these performances, but many of the pleasures of Change of Heart come from hearing Previn create beautiful tapestries around the singer as Finck fills out the sound and solidifies the rhythm. When the three are in sync, as in “Goodbye,” they achieve perfection. Previn’s chords sustain and Feinstein rests on them, singing with such ease that it’s only after hearing the disc a few times that I realized how well he serves these songs, and how emotionally true he is to them.

The sound puts you in the room with Feinstein, Previn, and Finck -- you can hear the singer’s impeccable breath control and his subtle treatment of the melodies. The piano and bass also register clearly, and the soundstage is convincingly three-dimensional. Pour a glass of wine and sit back with Change of Heart. If you close your eyes, you’ll feel as if you’re sitting at a front table in a nice club.

. . . Joseph Taylor