Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison
Price: $1; $.50 reserved
14 February 2016
“Mr. Harrison’s Musical Festival closed with the performance given last evening, which called out the largest audience ever assembled in Steinway Hall. Selections from the ‘Stabat Mater’ were performed under the directions of Mr. Maretzek, by Madame Rosa, Madame Natali-Testa, Signor Baragli and Signor Antonucci. We congratulate Mr. Harrison on the brilliant pecuniary success of his series of musical entertainments, and trust that the next given under his auspices will be more worthy of generous patronage.”
Sunday night’s concert was a harmonious conclusion to the week’s festival. In both its persons and selections, it was doubtless as interesting a programme as in the past. Feast of All Music has brought to our ears: Seven numbers of Rossini’s Stabat Mater, comprising the first half of the concert, were admirably chosen, and contained, in popular compass much of the import and value of a great work. Madame Rosa, Madame Testa, and Signori Barigli and Antonucci fulfilled this part of the concert, rendering, of course, with great effect, the quartet of Sancta Maria. We have so often spoken of the characteristics of these artists that we need not dwell on their performance. It may be supposed that Signor Antonucci’s grave and steady bass told well in the most masterly air in the work, Pro Peccatus, and that in the Inflammatus, the soaring soprano of Madame Rosa had artistic liberty. These and other parts of the programme, particularly the grand finale from The Prophet, were under conduct of Mr. Maretzek. The latter, though a familiar piece of orchestration, was rendered with a breadth of emphasis to which we are not accustomed.
For the first time, Mr. George W. Morgan produced last night the overture to his oratorio of John the Baptist. We have good reason to congratulate him on its measurable success. The overture may be described in a word as a substantial composition, which if never prodigal of ideas is never barren. It is full and firm in movement, and in no respect trivial. The sensation of cymbal shocks, and some other cheap and unmeaning shockishness of this kind, our scorer might have avoided; but are we not daily living in the thunders of Meyerbeer and Wagner, the cymbal-clashing and triangulation of Listz [sic]. All these effects may be tolerable, according as the hearer fancies the true spirit of music to be of the stage stagey, or as untheatrical as possible, but we deem them to be anything but first-class in point of invention. The motives of the overture occur to us as being as relevant to the subject of John the Baptist as to anybody else. But there can be no question that Mr. Morgan’s work is musician-like, and that his large organ study and practice have given breadth to his management of an orchestra. The funereal conclusion of the overture is one of its strong points—abrupt, almost, but in no respect inartistic, and explaining as nothing else does so well that Mr. Morgan is no hazy amateur in the use of his harmonic material, but a distinct worker, and, in a sound sense, a respectable musician. Without any extraordinary ideas, or novelty of theme, Mr. Morgan’s work is yet so sinewy and able in his best orchestral features that we cannot forbear to render it credit as the best symphonic composition heard for years from a local composer. We shall doubtless have more to say of it in time to come.
To Mr. Carl Rosa, praise is due for one of the most eloquent soli heard in recent concerts. He had noble chance to escape out of a certain hum drum of popularizations and commonplaces which have made his artistic life, during the past six months, of small value to his reputation. Mendelssohn’s exquisite violin concerto, full of a capricious meaning and delightful in every sense, was most appreciatively played by Mr. Rosa, who, if he is sometimes a workman for the sake of popularity, was last night an artist. Even at concerts [illeg.] to sacred music, we have to regret that evil spirits intrude. In the latter part of last night’s programme, the demon of Gush prevailed. We shall not describe it—the whole world of music knows its lachrymal features and pumping elocution. We import it largely from Italy. In the singing of Madame Poch and Signor Bellini, both theatrical artists of considerable reputation, we had a combination of explosion and gush as natural as a geyser. We offer our salaams to the fact that this is popular style, and that these are loud voices. Signor Bellini is an actor of deserved reputation, albeit his style, and that these are loud voices—but is it much, after all, to sing without truth? We are not certain that such a passage as Meyerbeer’s Beggar’s Song improves the case, for the master is sometimes as false as his pupil. From Bellini to Meyerbeer most of the composers have written for this same demon of Gush, and once for all we enter our modest protest against a style of deluge, a school of spasm and melodrama, grown commonplace with very cheapness of tears, and sighs, and exultations –which explodes its passion, and pumps its feeling, and afflicts our ears with its sturdiness of trembling and quaking. This is much to seem to say against what is in many respects our best school of vocalism, but we must be understood as only objecting to part of it, and that the part will never learn—the Bourbons who still give us ague in the name of music. We have now only to say that the Festival has been a wide success, for which the manager, the musicians, and the public are to be equally and cordially congratulated.”
(…) “We hope there will be better preparation, more diligence, and more thoroughness in future music festivals.” [Quote] We thank Harrison for his generosity with reserved standing room tickets for the press.
“At the closing concert on Sunday night, Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater’ occupied the first part of the evening, the remainder of the programme being miscellaneous. Great credit is due to Mr. Harrison for the enterprise which led him to devise so great an undertaking, and for the energy and address with which it was carried through. It is an occasion that will not soon be forgotten by those who participated either in its labors or its enjoyments.”