18 January 2018
"Miss Kate McDonald gives her first 'annual' concert this evening at Steinway Hall. She will be assisted by Mlle. Toedt, Mr. George Simpson, Mr. Jules Lumbard, Mr. Alfred Pease, Mr. Letsch, Mr. Dietz, Mr. G. W. Colby, and Mr. Theodore Thomas's grand orchestra."
“Miss Kate McDonald’s benefit concert at Steinway Hall last on Thursday night was attended by a very large and decidedly fashionable audience. She was assisted by Miss Matilda Toedt, the charming violinist, George Simpson, the well-known tenor, Jules Lumbard and excellent basso, Messrs. Pease and Colby, pianists, and a small but efficient orchestra. The fair bénéficiare sang Mercadante’s aria, Leonora, Schubert’s serenade with violin obligato, and in the trio from Lombardi, and was encored in all.”
“‘Grand Annuals,’ neither strictly grand or exclusively annual, have been frequent of late, the most recent being that of Miss Kate McDonald, the popular cantatrice of the Sunday concerts. She has a slight, graceful presence, endowed with a young, sweet voice, of which the highest tones are good, the method imperfect but hopeful. Mercadante’s Lenora air was well chosen to represent its quality and promise, but we can not expect Miss McDonald, and few other professional singers, great or small, to sing the wonderful Serenade of Schubert with the sincerity due to its divine feeling. It is too much to ask of voices what we can only require of souls; wherefore we have but to say that, Miss McDonald, with all the merely vocal gift she needs for the purpose, did not succeed in expressing Schubert. Singers of greater pretension have failed quite in the same way, their deficiency being in kind, and not in degree. Certainly Miss McDonald sings the Serenade, not essentially worse than a celebrated singer sang the Ave Maria once upon a time—and indeed the inability to appreciatively utter the simple inspiration of a song let loose like lark or nightingale out of the composer’s heart, was never more conspicuous than among these same famous people of the stage stagey, and of the concert concertish. Miss Matilda Toedt’s violin accompaniment did not illuminate Schubert a particle more acceptably than the voice which she followed with such graceful, but commonplace bowing. There are several reasons for this: first, this accompaniment appears superfluous as compared to Schubert’s own arrangement; second, it is no way newly suggestive; third, as most players would play it, it [underlines?] a very tender song with the most punitive streaks of violin phrasing; and fourth, we cannot affirm that Miss Toedt cared to play it warmly. Better, but still more gracefully careful than graciously free, was this interesting performer’s execution of a violin andante by Mendelssohn. The trio from I Lombardi, one of the broadest concerted pieces of Verdi, was happily chosen; and the weight of Mr. Lombard’s bass, the clearness of Mr. Simpson’s tenor (spite of a few dead headed-notes), and the freshness of Miss McDonald’s soprano, contributed to give it massive effect. Mr. Lombard’s Infelice, from Ernani proved that in voices of strength and volume there are occasional tendencies to mechanize expression. For once, in a long time, we have heard from Mr. Alfred H. Pease a composition not his own, and we must thank him for it. Mr. Pease can compose cleverly, but for all reasons, it is better to hear such a piece as Mendelssohn’s brilliant Caprice for the piano than the obvious variations on Godfrey’s Mabel Waltz. This caprice is colder than any composition of Mendelssohn’s should be; but it is a good task for the player, and Mr. Pease played it with some indifference, but yet with considerable delicacy.”