Price: $1; reserved $1.50
10 October 2016
This is a real benefit concert, because the Liederkranz carries the entire costs.
“The Concert given by the Liederkranz last night at Steinway Hall, for the benefit of the German Hospital, was a brilliant affair, and must have yielded a large sum of money for the charitable purpose to which the gross receipts were devoted. Mrs. Eliza Lumley, Miss Topp, Mr. Wenzel Kopta, Madame Rotter, and Mr. Steins, contributed their valuable services. Miss Topp’s playing of Liszt’s Rhapsodie Hongroise No. 2 elicited a storm of applause, mingled with howls and roars of delight.”
Benefit performances are usually not very popular. However, this one was not only excellent, it was also well attended. (…) Kopta’s performance of Paganini’s piece gave evidence of his enormous skill. We wished he would choose pieces with more substance. The Liederkranz men’s chorus excelled with the performance of Frei’s piece. The nuance between tenderness and strength and especially the majestic crescendos were done with confidence and mastery. The performance of the mixed chorus left nothing to wish for. Rotter and Stein’s solos were received well for their accuracy, which complemented the entire piece. Alide Topp is a pianist par excellence. Her play consists of all that is required of a piano virtuoso: excellent technique, beautiful understanding, spirited interpretation and strength. Top and the hosting chorus received the most applause. (…)
“The Liederkranz Society gave a concert at Steinway Hall on Monday night before an immense audience, the programme consisting of a highly dramatic overture to Robespierre by Litholf [sic], six choral scenes from Frithiol’s Saga, ‘How came Love,’ the prize song of the society, ‘Danse des Sorciere,’ a violin solo, by Paganini. We have described all these works before in the HERALD. Madame Lumley sang an aria by Mattei in an artistic manner, her fine contralto voice being heard to great advantage in it. But the chief attractions of the entire concert, and features, too, that characterized it as the best of the present season, were the finale, from the first act of the fragmentary opera of ‘Lorelei’ by Mendelssohn, and Alida Topp’s wonderful playing of Liszt’s ‘Rhapsodie Hongroise,’ a piano solo. The scene from the ‘Lorelei’ introduced over one hundred male and female singers, and the choruses were given with precision, spirit and expression. The choruses are even more weird-like than those of the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ All the spirits of the Rhine seem to hover around the wailing Leonora as she calls for revenge on her faithless lover, and voices and orchestra answer her in the strongest terms, like those for which the fisherman hears in imagination at night as he nears the dreaded home of Lurline. The winds seem to whisper at times from every voice and instrument; then from the depths of the orchestra the muttering thunder is heard; anon the troubled waters, ‘neath which many a crew has found a grave, murmur and foam in waves of harmony; and again the agony of soul of the deserted lady is re-echoed in plaintive tones by the world of elves and spirits that haunt the great river. Mme. Rotter sang the part of Leonora with considerable dramatic expression, but her voice showed evident signs of wear and want of freshness and flexibility. Miss Topp’s playing of the Liszt rhapsody (by the way a very eccentric and rather unintelligible piece) showed a strong, clear, crisp touch, élan and expression. Wenzel Kopta was the violinist.”
The attendance was high and the complete revenue of $2,500 was donated to the hospital. The Steinway Hall venue, which was rented without charge, was so overcrowded that there was not even standing room left.
The concert opened with Littolf’s [sic] overture from Robespierre, which was not performed well. Paganini’s “Herrentanz” followed played by the talented Wenzel Kopta. His technique is not perfect, and he lacks calm in his performance; however it is still a very good performance. If he would play the music more than “himself”, he could be even better. This is meant as a good-intentioned advice, not as harsh criticism. Lumley sang Mattei in an old Italian style. However; we were told that she is going to sing more modern in the future. We have said much good about her before; she had an excellent education. Alide Topp’s performance piece gave her much oportunity to show her skill in different styles: from the sentimental, melancholic adagio of the introduction to the wilder “dance” of the presto. Topp played the variety of colors and nuances with confidence, warmth and precision. Only four or five pianists in the world have this capability. It is unbelievable how she is able to play with such strength with her little hands and fingers, and how she seems to play Liszt’s cords and jumps with a lightness and non-chalance as if the music was written for her. Her performance has the masculinity of strength required in Liszt’s works as much as the sensitivity, tenderness and purity of the feminine side in her. We wished Liszt or Bülow could have heard her play; especially on such a fine instrument such as the Steinway grand piano that was used. She was called out four times and the applause seemed not to end.
The Liederkranz sang Frei’s song with tenderness, beauty and extraordinary exquisite taste. The men’s chorus was strong and some of the voices very beautiful. Mrs. Rotter sang the solo part from the Loreley with such fire that the blood vessels of her neck seemed to jump out. She clearly strained her voice too much. Many chorus members participated, and the choral parts were performed mostly with confidence and a beautiful sound. All in all the concert was an excellent one.
The concert was completely sold out. Not even standing room was available. The event was a brilliant success in the the economical and artistic sense. The singers performed Frei’s “Wie kommt die Liebe” with much tenderness and taste. The mixed chorus sang Mendelssohn’s “Loreley” and the rather monotone “Frithjofssage” by Bruch with great precision and subtle nuancing. The soloist Kopta performed with great technical skill, and the admirable Alide Topp played the Hungarian rhapsody by Liszt with unequaled bravura, with fiery verve and masculine powerfulness.