30 August 2018
“After an absence of two years in Europe, Mr. Harry Sanderson gave his first concert since his return last evening at Irving Hall. Though the hall was not actually filled, the seats were nearly all occupied, and the audience tendered Mr. Sanderson a cordial welcome. His first appearance on the programme was in the fantasia, ‘I Puritani,’ the execution of which brought down the house. Nearly every piece on the programme was encored. Mr. Sanderson also played an exquisite little gem, ‘Lullaby,’ in which he was quite at home and at once aroused the sympathy of the purely sentimental portion of the audience. Miss Kate McDonald sang ‘Domani oh me Felice’ [sic] with sweetness and vigor, and was encored. ‘Non è ver’ was sung by Mr. Harrison Millard with good effect. Possessing a powerful tenor voice, there is a softness of tone in his singing combined with a genuine dramatic expression which commends him to the lovers of pure melody. Mr. Pollak, who sang a solo and duet, were well received in both, and Mr. Caesar Alard, the violoncello performer, was heartily and deservedly applauded. There was one feature in the programme which was commented upon somewhat unfavorably. Only two pieces were given in English, while the majority of the audience were totally unacquainted with the vernacular of Florence and Milan, however much they might be at home in Paris and Vienna. On the whole, however, the cast was a powerful one, and redounds to the superior judgment of the gentleman who thus catered to the public taste. Such a combination could not fail to attract a respectable and critical audience at any time in our city, and Mr. Sanderson may be so far congratulated on the success of his commencement.”
“Mr. Harry Sanderson gave last night his first concert since his return from England, and was received with a degree of enthusiasm which reminded us of the occasion when, two years ago, he gave his farewell performance at the same place—Irving Hall. The interval has not changed any of Mr. Sanderson’s peculiar characteristics as a player. He is as dashing, brilliant and showy a pianist as before he left us. His right hand has lost none of its cunning, nor any of its marvelous power of throwing off runs in octaves, which to very good players would be difficult enough in single notes. His execution is so assured, and so evidently equal to all emergencies, that it is no wonder it carries audiences by storm.
“We are not disposed to find fault with Mr. Sanderson because he does not play with the fine sentiment which characterizes Mr. Hoffman’s style, or with the carefully studied elaboration of Mr. Mills. He has chosen a field of his own, which is adapted to his temperament and to his powers. In this peculiar style of playing he has no equal, and scarcely any competitors. It is not the highest, it is very far from that, but it is the best for Mr. Sanderson, and is always enjoyed, as it was last night. The other performances at the concert deserve little special notice. Miss Kate McDonald and Mr. Millard both sung acceptably.”
“HARRY SANDERSON—the name is a sort of ‘trade mark,’ for—on a programme—it never has the prefix of Mr. to it—gave his first performance at this establishment last evening. Mr. SANDERSON is well known, and affectionately remembered here. He has been absent in Europe for many months, and has, of course, played before distinguished people and received particular and special praise from high authorities. Mr. SANDERSON is not an artist, but he performs certain feats which the best of artists might desire to perform in the same facile and limpid fashion. No one can dash off octaves more readily and clearly than he. In addition to this he composes polkas and quicksteps better than most gentlemen who addict themselves to that habit. But to speak of the concert. The programme opened with a piece by Mr. POLLAK—not the piece announced, but unimportant on that or any other account; only when an artist is announced to sing a morceau he ought to do so, and not rudely insert another piece in its stead. It may not make much difference to the public, but the few who note the change have a right to refer to the impertinence. Mr. Pollak sang out of tune, and was accompanied wretchedly. So also was Mr. CAESAR ALARD, of whom we desire only to say that as far as our experience goes he is the worst solo player who ever ventured to thrust himself before the community. He neither plays in time or tune, and the simplest graces become elephantine impossibilities in his hands. There was a ray of light in Miss KATE MCDONALD—a lady whose exquisite taste and delicate, but clear voice, impart interest to trifles. Mr. HARRISON MILLARD also returned to the concert room on this occasion. It he had sung his own compositions there might have been an opportunity of saying something; but what can be said of such things as ‘Non e ver,’ ‘The Last Rose of Summer,’ ‘The Tear,’ &c. There are few writers who are so dainty and musicianlike as M. MILLARD. With an Italian education he has learnt the true vocal flow of Italian rhythm. His own melodies are as soft and fluent as those of Naples; while latterly he has displayed a larger and more dramatic sentiment. Few songs have been written better than the ‘Waiting,’ sung by Mme. PAREPA-ROSA. Why under these circumstances Mr. MILLARD should think it necessary to sing pieces far inferior to his own, we are at a loss to imagine.
“Mr. SANDERSON was received with enthusiasm. Excitable at all times, he was, of course, affected by the warmth of his reception, and hardly did that justice to himself or to the WEBER piano piece which we hope hereafter to record. But he is still full of life and brilliancy, and touches the public pulse with certainty. The hall was well filled, and the concert may be put on record as one of the most successful of the season.
“Mr. Harry Sanderson, the popular pianist, who has lately returned to us after a two-year visit to England, received a very cordial welcome last night from au audience which nearly filled Irving Hall, and which, to judge from the prolonged applause and numerous encores, will not soon tire of his playing. His style is well suited to captivate the public. He is brilliant, daring, and we had almost said, original. As an octave-player we do not know that he has any superior in America, and his performance is instinct with the power, manliness, dash, and vivacity which Americans especially admire. To pronounce a critical judgment upon him, in the face of the success which always rewards his efforts, will be to expose ourselves to the charge of unfairness; but candor compels us to say that musicians must listen to him with wonder rather than with approbation, and that his execution, remarkable as it may be, is very far from perfect, and shows very little promise of improvement. He plays nothing correctly. He has cultivated the right hand at the expense of the left, and he studies tours de force with little regard to the accuracy, elegance, and nice musical feeling which distinguish the merely brilliant pianist from the cultivated artist. Except in the command of octaves, he is surpassed by other players with whom we are well acquainted. Miss Topp is ten times more brilliant, Mr. S. B. Mills is more delicate and careful. Mr. Richard Hoffman has a much finer appreciation of a composer’s meaning, and is altogether more satisfactory to the true lover of music. Take, for example, Mr. Sanderson’s first pieces: the fantasia on ‘I Puritani’ was full of fire and spirit, but without soul; and the arrangement of airs from ‘Faust,’ which he played in obedience to a recall, was effective, but unfeeling. The two familiar waltzes of the Kermesse, which are so capable of nice shades of expression, we may add, which nobody in this city except Bergmann, has ever adequately interpreted in the orchestral accompaniments to the opera), were rattled over in a bold forte, and the Fanfare Militaire was then added in an ingenious but utterly unsuitable piano. Of course, a man who plays ‘Faust’ in this way has no business to play it at all. Mr. Sanderson’s ‘Lullaby,’ which came afterward, was very neatly done, but we fear, not so well liked. The ‘Souvenir Polka’ was sparkling, and would have been pleasing had not the harmonies been so often at fault. The plain truth is that Mr. Sanderson is a brilliant concert-workman, but not an artist.
“His assistants last evening were Mr. Cesar Alard, violoncellist, and Miss Kate McDonald, Mr. Millard, and Mr. Pollak, vocalists, all of whom were highly acceptable to the audience; Miss McDonald and Mr. Millard were warmly encored, and Mr. Pollak, we may state for the satisfaction of the incredulous, sang what was set down for him on the bills. He appeared to be in low spirits, as usual, and spread an atmosphere of melancholy through the hall in which even the lights seemed to grow dim, and the ushers to meditate laudanum. Mr. Alard did not justify the favorable impression which he made on his first appearance at Dodworth Hall. His intonation, as we said before, is remarkably pure; but his touch in a large room loses much of its delicacy, and the habitual hurrying of the time, which we remarked at his former concert, proves to be the effect not so much of the nervousness of a debut as of an imperfect ear for rhythm.”