Price: $1; $1.50 reserved
24 August 2016
…The Arion chorus is preparing for a concert in Mid November with Bergmann conducting. The rehearsals are well attended thus we expect a good concert. We did not hear from the Arion for a long time, and we hope it will live up to the good name it used to have. Around mid-November, the oratorio concerts will begin as well.
The Arion Society gives a concert today with Alide Topp participating on the piano.
“The Arions gave the first concert of the season last night before a large audience. Miss Kapp-Young was the vocalist; a large orchestra, under the direction of Carl Bergmann, played selections from Bargiel, Wagner and Weber; the society sang three of their most telling pieces, and Miss Alida Topp played Liszt’s piano concerto in E flat, in which Mills made such a sensation last season at the Philharmonic concert. Miss Topp must certainly have had confidence in her powers as a pianist to select such a trying piece for her debut in New York. It is a wild, eccentric work, abounding in enormous technical difficulties, both for the piano and orchestra, and demands great strength of touch and clear, clockwork action of wrist, together with attention to the most minute details in the rendering. That the fair pianist succeeded in giving even a passable interpretation of it is a proof of her ability. Want of power and want of elasticity in the touch were the principal defects in her rendering of this work. A clear, crisp and powerful touch can scarcely come from the action of the entire arm. The fingers, wrist and muscles of the forearm must be well trained for such passages as Liszt presents to a pianist. Miss Topp, however, gave sufficient evidence of being a welcome addition to our already large circle of pianists.”
“The New-York Arion Society gave their regular annual vocal and instrumental concert, at Steinway Hall, last evening. The Arion orchestra of sixty performers, led by Mr. Carl Bergmann, and its immense vocal force, sustained the concerted pieces on the programme. The overture from ‘Prometheus’ opened the entertainment, and the instrumental morceaux included Wagner's ‘Lohengrin,’ and Weber's ‘Jubilee Overture’ for the full orchestra. The chorus gave Veit's ‘Roth Traut’ and Kinkel's ‘Ritter’s Abschied.’ Mme. Louise Kapp Young sang in her best style the Romanza from ‘Robert le Diable,’ and an aria from ‘Poliuto.’ Mlle. Zopp [sic], a pupil of Von Bulow, and a pianist of courage and exceedingly good method, performed Liszt's Concerto in E flat, and Chopin's Ballad in G minor. The hall was thronged with the friends of the Society, and a public which has a most excellent appreciation of the merits of the Arion. The concert was a success.”
“The concert of the Arion Society last evening was largely attended. The most notable event of the evening was the first appearance of a young German pianist, Miss Alida Topp, who has already acquired an enviable reputation in her own country, considering that she is but twenty years of age. She is a pupil of Liszt, whose brilliancy of execution has been imparted to her in large measure. Last evening she not only succeeded in impressing her audience by the ease with which she overcame formidable technical difficulties, but by the sentiment and sympathetic quality of her playing. Madame Kapp-Young, who was the other soloist of the evening, received her share of the honors, although her style is better fitted for the stage than for the concert room. The performances of the Arion Society were fully up to their own high standard of excellence.”
“The vocal and instrumental concert given last evening at Steinway Hall, by the Arion Vocal Society, presenting unusually attractive and novel features, drew together a large and critical audience. The principal event last evening was the début in America of Miss Alida Topp, a young lady about 20 years of age, a native of Rostrock [sic], Germany, and the pupil of the famous Hans von Bülow, nephew of the great Liszt. Miss top made her first great sensation in the musical world at the Carlsurher [sic] Künstler Musikfest, in 1864, on which occasion she executed Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz with a supernatural brilliancy that ‘took with ravishment the thronging audience,’ including the most exacting critics in Europe. She achieved a similar triumph in Steinway Hall last evening. The pieces selected for the display of her powers . . . exposed her to a severe ordeal, but she passed through with immense éclat and applause. She is one of the few performers who have transcended and entirely emancipated themselves from the mere mechanism of their art. Her touch is electric, and seems to waken the instrument to life almost human. To speak of her wonderful technique is like talking of the syntax of an inspired poet. Her style is as easy and flowing as a rapid brook, sometimes placid as a crystal lake, sometimes dashing as a torrent, but always vital, feeling, and sympathetic. Her fingering is as free, facile and spontaneous as thought. But the force, precision, and faultlessness of her execution constitute the least charm and excellence of her performance. They are but the setting and surrounding of the soul of her art, which is expressive, ranging through an infinite gradation of shades and lines, from the most intangible and delicate to the most profound and intense. The skill to utter so much poetry and feeling through a ‘silver stir of strings’ amounts almost to enchantment. Her fingers run through the most difficult intricacies of music with the almost invisible rapidity of a hummingbird’s wing. Yet she is always unobtrusive and graceful. She is undoubtedly the greatest female pianist we have had in America, and the cordial and complete ovation she received last night was a spontaneous acknowledgment of the fact. The Arion Society did itself honor on this occasion, and sang Veit’s Roth Trout [sic], a musical morceau of fanciful beauty, Kinkel’s Ritter’s Abschied, a melody as pure and precious as virgin gold, and Wagner’s Liebes Mahl der Apostel in exact time, uniform breath, with pleasant light and shade, and earnest and correct expression. The Society evinced considerable temerity in attempting the interpretation of do formidable a sample of Wagner’s music of the future as Liebes Mahl der Apostel, designed, doubtless, for not less than three or four hundred voices. The sixty or seventy at the command of the Arion did well and nobly and, indeed all that Young says angels can do – their best, and compensated for the lack of numbers by the skill and spirit with which they fulfilled the task they had undertaken. Although we would not go the length that the King of Bavaria has gone, and refuse the hand of a beautiful princess who failed to recognize the superiority of Wagnerian music, we must confess that this composition impressed us as a performance of intrinsic merit, bold and masterly in conception, and inspired with exalted thoughts and intense feeling. Its finest strains, however, reminded us of the popular march in Tannhäuser, and are marked by the same imposing loftiness of progression and Brobdingnagian sentiment. Although the ‘Apostles’ Supper’ is occasionally disfigured with loud-sounding pretension, it contains numerous sublime passages and ultimes in a graphic and beautiful form, varied and deep emotions and mental images of true majesty and splendor. The orchestra, which performed Bargiel’s Overture to Prometheus, and several other learned and ambitious pieces, being under the skillful control of Mr. Carl Bergman [sic] did them the fullest justice. Madame Louisa Kapp-Young, whose recent successes at the Academy of Music have added ‘sober certainty’ to the fame that heralded her appearance in America sang [her pieces] and earned a hearty encore. Her lower tones are rich and pleasant, and she has the full sweep of an ample compass, but her upper tones are somewhat worn, and her style is comparatively tame.”
…In Wagner’s debut piece, the difficulties dominated the beauty. All three choral pieces were excellently performed; especially Wagner’s. The chorus proved that true art is more important to them than the acknowledgement of the audience. Some audience members left with disappointment before the piece was finished. As we had already expressed before in the review of the Liederkranz Soiree, Alide Topp’s performances are always of very high quality. She is not only very skilled, but also has an elegant style. She played Chopin with understanding and feeling. The large audience rewarded the performers with enthusiastic applause and flowers. Many da capos were given. The orchestra under Bergmann’s leadership also did wonderfully.
It was a remarkable concert. The choral performance excelled with consistency, with the well-balanced relationship of the various voices to each other, and with the purity and accuracy of the harmonies. Kapp-Young sang both songs fairly well as expected from an experienced singer; however, she lacks the strong voice and the brilliance of which at least one is needed to impress with opera arias. Whether the presentation of arias is appropriate at a concert is questionable. Miss Topp played for the first time in front of a large audience in New York. Her mild indisposition was not noticed at all. She played Liszt’s E-flat major concerto with excellence from memory – every part exactly as it was written. About the musician herself we can only say the highest. She is so close to perfection that it won’t be long until she officially belongs to the best of the world. Once the high energy normal for this young age has cleared and turned into confident calm, no critic will be able to find any fault in her. Technically she already reached the highest skill possible, her style representative of the modern romantic piano schooling as introduced by Liszt, Tausig, Bülow, and Rubinstein. There are no challenges for her technically; the positioning of her arms and hands are flawless, her touch of the keys pure, though not always pleasant sounding, the musical ornamentation is executed sensitively and gracefully, and she is exceedingly confident and secure in her performance. The call for da capo after her E flat concerto was tactless, unfortunately common in concerts. Bergmann’s orchestra played the “Jubilee Overture” and the Prometheus overture with precision and taste.
“The Arion Society gave a very interesting concert last Thursday night, at Steinway Hall. It opened, under Mr. Bergmann’s safe direction, with Bargiel’s overture to ‘Prometheus,’ which ought to be heard more often. Since Schumann, nothing better has been written in the old form. Mme. Kapp-Young sang the romance from ‘Robert,’ in a truly artistic style. This lady improves upon better acquaintance. She has a fine voice and expression and could not fail to be successful with the large audience. The members of the society shared the same honor; they sang with taste and discretion, reflecting great credit upon their conductor. Unusual interest was felt in the first appearance of the young pianist, Mlle. Topp, who played Liszt’s concert in an admirable manner. Her technics [sic] are superb, but what is still better, she has fire and soul. There is individuality in her performance, which stamps her at once as a true artist. She made deservedly a favorable impression.”
“The concerts at Steinway Hall have offered no novelty except the debut of Miss Topp, a pianist of remarkable ability. The new contralto, Madame Tumley, has also produced so favorable an impression, as to lead her hearers to desire to listen to her in opera. We trust this wish will be gratified.”