Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison
Price: $5 subscription; $1; $1.50 reserved
20 December 2017
“Again a change in the weather, which has been indulging in the most extraordinary freaks this month. Yesterday the streets had a forbidding aspect and few cared about places of amusement. Yet in spite of the drizzling rain a good sized audience, a large proportion being ladies, congregated at Steinway Hall at the only matinee of the grand festival. Those who attended were regaled with a choice feast of music. The soloists were Madame Parepa-Rosa, who sang the scena and aria ‘Sweet Spirit,’ from Lurline, and a song by Millard in her own unrivalled style, receiving an encore after each; Mr.Wenzel Kopta, violin, whose execution of the beautiful ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ like concerto in E minor by Mendelsshon and Paganini’s Di Tanti-Palpiti,’ was sans reproche and entitled to the highest praise; Messrs. G. W. Colby and Pease, on the piano, and Mr. Bartlett, baritone. The concert commenced with Schubert’s posthumous symphony, of which we have spoken at length before. The novelty of the entire bill was the overture to the oratorio of St. John the Baptist,’ by George W. Morgan, which was heard for the second time in America. It is difficult to form a comprehensive opinion of this work without hearing the oratorio with which it is necessarily connected by irrefragable bonds. Yet it gives a very favorable idea of the oratorio itself and testifies to the high degree of artistic excellence on the part of the composer. The overture opens with a solemn adagio theme which permeates the entire work and which is supposed to represent the ‘Precursor.’ This melody is admirably suited to represent the idea of a great prophet. The second movement, andante, is taken from a duet in the oratorio ‘And He shall gather wheat,’ and forms a pleasing code to its predecessor. The allegro following describes the trials and persecutions to which the Baptist was subjected, and is cleverly worked up to the climax of his martyrdom, breaking off in an abrupt crash of the entire orchestra. The succeeding chorus represents the triumph and reward of the just man, and gradually melts away into a beautiful, plaintive finale, expressive of death and peace for evermore. It is a work of considerable merit, and if shorn somewhat of its dimensions it would be a welcome visitor to the concert hall. Mr. Colby played the organ part with taste, and the composer conducted the orchestra in an entirely satisfactory manner. Such an artist and organist should be heard more frequently, both as an executants and composer.”
“There were two performances at Steinway Hall on Saturday—both of a miscellaneous character. The matinée was well attended, notwithstanding the rain-storm. The programme contained but a single novelty. It was, however, popular and acceptable in its component parts. The novelty was an overture (‘St. John the Baptist’) by Mr. G. W. MORGAN, the celebrated organist—a work displaying a large and healthy tone of thought and considerable power of elaboration. It was given with effect under the direction of the composer, and certainly merits another performance and a more mature consideration. The soloists of the matinée were Mme. PAREPA-ROSA, Mr. FRANK BARTLETT, Mr. WENZEL KOPTA (a good but overrated violinist) and Mr. A. H. PEASE. There was an orchestra which did so little that it is hardly worth while referring to it—two movements from SCHUBERT’S unfinished symphony and Mr. MORGAN’S overture. No one could expect less.”
“On Saturday afternoon, for example, we had the two charming movements of Schubert’s unfinished posthumous symphony in B minor, which has only been played twice in New-York, and both times under the direction of Mr. Theodore Thomas. We have expressed our admiration of this exquisite relic heretofore, and have only to record its repetition as another of the many evidences of good sense and enterprise for which Mr. Thomas is honored. Mr. G. W. Morgan brought out his overture to the oratorio of ‘St. John the Baptist’ for the second time. It embraces some powerful effects, but abounds in reminiscences of better works, and its strainings after climax are more ambitious than successful. Madame Rosa contributed several songs; Mr. Wenzel Kopta played Mendelssohn’s E minor concerto for the violin very well, and a fantasia of Paganini’s tolerably; Mr. Pease and Mr. Colby executed a ‘Grand Duchesse’ duet on two pianos, a bald and trifling arrangement by the former gentleman; and there was some altogether unpardonable singing by a Mr. Bartlett. Counting encores, eleven or twelve pieces were performed, and only two of them—the symphony and the concerto—were good; but the others we are bound to say were heartily applauded, and no doubt it was judicious management to give them.”
“Musical Festival in New York…On Saturday afternoon there was a matinée of which the principal attractions were these:
2 movements from unfinished Symphony….Schubert
Violin Concerto, op. 64 (Wenzel Kopta)…..Mendelssohn
Overture, ‘St. John the Baptist’…..G. W. Morgan
The Schubert fragments need no encomium; the two movements have been several times played this winter and have grown steadily in our liking. The Mendelssohn Concerto, which has long been the cheval de bataille of aspiring violinists, was performed (that is to say, two movements, commencing with the lovely Andante) not very excellently by Mr. Kopta; he was too nervous, hurried the time of the last movement, and seemed generally unsettled with regard to the proper tempo. The orchestra was, similarly uncertain as to what he intended and the result was a confused and hitchy performance.
“Mr. Morgan’s Overture to ‘John the Baptist’ (Mr. M. is said to have an Oratorio of that name in the works in quite good and, making no pretence at absolute originality, is enjoyable and agreeable to hear. Mr. Colby presided at the organ, and the Overture was conducted by Mr. Morgan himself.
“There were some miscellaneous pieces. Mme. Parepa sang two solos and Mr. Bartlett did likewise, the former acceptably and the latter not exactly so.”