Academy of Music
8 January 2017
“The two rehearsals for the second concert of the Philharmonic Society showed sufficiently what a good selection was made in electing Dr. Doremus president of the Society. At the first rehearsal there was a large attendance, and the weather unfortunately interfered on Friday last and thinned the Academy considerably. Yet, on that occasion the musical attractions were something more than ordinary. The orchestra rehearsed Schubert’s symphony in C and Ritter’s overture to Othello, and Miss Alida Topp played Weber’s piano concerto in F minor, and a fantasia by Liszt on the Ruins of Athens. Schubert is gradually winning his way in this country into every musician’s heart, and this symphony, as rendered by the magnificent Philharmonic orchestra of one hundred performers, will gain him new adherents at the next concert on Saturday. It is full of melody, rich, warm, soul-touching melody, and breathes the spirit of poetry from every instrument. In the finale there is vigor and spirit, a gentle swell of rippling triplets, a tutti crash, and this swell dies away, like an ocean billow in calm water, never discordant, never at variance with the laws of harmony, never having recourse to Wagnerian tricks and absurdities, but always majestic, tender, plaintive, joyous or otherwise musically expressive. New melodies spring up at every wave of the conductor’s baton. It is whispered by the violins, echoed by the reeds, breathed through the horns, until the air is filled with it from every part of the orchestra, and as it dies away in waves of harmony the spirit of Beethoven seems to settle over the wand of the leader. Mr. Ritter shows much ability and research in his overture, but there is too much Liszt in it for our taste. A string pianissimo and a flute dialogue lead into an allegro, in which the syncopated movement is skilfully handled, and the transitions of the theme from the violins to the basses are very pretty. The only trouble is in introducing irrelevant ideas at every point. The composer has not caught the divine afflatus of wreathing one subject into another artistically, after the example of his great models. Beethoven and Schumann, whom he sometimes draws upon in the best portions of the work. In the attempt to mass the instruments like Liszt he fails very palpably, for with all his faults in orchestration that eccentric composer knows how to produce a climactic effect. A double figure is introduced and very cleverly worked up, and may, indeed, be considered the best feature in the overture. Mr. Ritter, unlike Othello, smothers Desdemona in the finale with the double basses, and he winds up the work in a very weak though original manner. He sometimes uses in it trashy means of display and intersperses in it common ballard [sic] themes which are at variance with the rest of the work. Miss Alida Topp excelled her previous efforts in her rendering of Weber’s Concertstück. Beneath her touch the grand piano poured forth a stream of melody and harmony in which every note was heard with the distinctness and precision that only a great artist can render, and every part of the work received its due share of attention at her hands. Even the march, although it is beneath the genius of the composer, was given with an elan and brilliancy that made the piano tones ring above the crash of the orchestra to every part of the Academy. Miss Topp has proved herself a true artiste in every sense of the word and one worthy of such an orchestra as that of the Philharmonic Society.”
The rehearsal could completely be equaled to a concert. Since Dr. Doremus became the president of the Philharmonic Society, he has put a lot of effort into luring people to attend the rehearsals, which is economically very practical for the Society. Rehearsed was Ritter’s overture from Othello, the symphony of Schubert’s and Weber’s concert piece, the latter with Alide Topp as pianist.