TribLIVE

| Home

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Review: Feinstein's tribute to Sinatra proves he's a great entertainer

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, June 17, 2011
 

Michael Feinstein has won fame as singer and pianist, and affection too for reviving the great American songbook with devotion and integrity. Thursday night he was also a great entertainer.

Feinstein performed a tribute to Frank Sinatra with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops that showed why musical style is a much more potent way to evoke an artist than the mannerism of impressionists. He had great stories to tell about Sinatra and his songs, as well as ready wit to make it fun.

Yes, Feinstein did use some body language, swinging with the beat, and hand and arm gestures to the audience. But it felt real, a natural response to the music he was obviously into.

Vocally the singer was in top form. Hamlisch told him, "I've never heard you sound better." His voice was warm and appealing. It was lovely on softer sustained notes, and had winning power as well.

Hamlisch started the concert at Heinz Hall, Downtown, by saying it was about the Sinatra mood, "cool and laid back." Then he conducted the brash opening of an orchestral medley, "Salute to Ol' Blue Eyes" that showed the orchestra, especially the brass, came to play. But often when Feinstein was singing the brass was too loud. The engineer at the sound panel had the good taste not to over amplify the singer.

The voice came into play with "Luck Be A Lady," which Feinstein sang with rhythmic power. He belted out the finish standing on the top of the grand piano at the front center of the stage.

Feinstein also reveled in Sinatra's introspective style, never more so than in "Fly Me to the Moon." He was accompanied by guitarist Joe Negri and bassist Jeff Grubbs. Negri, who played a beautiful solo in the song, received such a big hand from the audience on his introduction that both Feinstein and Hamlisch joked about it. The rapport between the three performers was so close and sensitive that this song was a moment of magic.

The piano was put to its intended use in an instrumental fantasy on " Brazil" by Ary Barroso. Feinstein's performance was a reminder he began as a pianist and still has the chops. His rhythm was electric. He was also a fine ensemble player.

Highlights after intermission included "It's All Right With Me," which Feinstein said he enjoyed because it let him be a cad for three minutes. The Sinatra style was just right.

Even more memorable was "I Remember You," which the singer said was a tribute to Judy Garland by lyricist Johnny Mercer after their affair. The nuances of affection were beautifully evoked.

One of the most fascinating songs performed Thursday night was an act of imagination. Sinatra sang "Begin the Beguine" only in the '40s. The singer performed it in a Nelson Riddle style arrangement as Sinatra might have in the '50s.

The concert closed with a song Sinatra liked to sing when he was no longer young, "For Once in My Life." At its conclusion, the audience erupted in a standing ovation. Not the pro forma one often seen, but genuinely enthusiastic.

The encore was "New York, New York," which at its conclusion found Feinstein on top of the piano again.

Sinatra may have grown up in New Jersey, but he made it in New York and everywhere. This show will be a hit wherever Feinstein takes it.

Michael Feinstein's performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission. $20-$99. Details: 412-392-4900

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
  2. Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
  3. Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
  4. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  5. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  6. Warrant issued for man accused of killing Brookline woman
  7. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  8. Emails among Governor Wolf’s aides reveal concern over AG Kane
  9. Heyl: Longtime disc jockey Jimmy Roach to turn dismissal into brighter times
  10. Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
  11. Steelers notebook: Tomlin says Latrobe session won’t differ from normal practice