American Institute Coliseum
1 November 2021
“Beethoven Musical Jubilee.
Fourth Day…Two Miscellaneous Programmes.
Both chorus and audience begin to dwindle down, and the number of empty benches in the Coliseum becomes more painfully evident as the jubilee progresses. [Reviews afternoon performance.]
In the evening the programme consisted of the first part of Mendelssohn’s sublime oratorio, ‘Elijah,’ and a few choice selections of a miscellaneous character.
The oratorio was sung by the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, numbering 500 voices; the soloists being Mme. Parepa-Rosa, Miss Nettie Sterling, and Messrs. Castle and Whitney, and the conductor, Carl Zerrhan. Mr. J. C. D. Parker did the best he could with the poor instrument which was designated on the bill the ‘Coliseum organ,’ but which occupied more space than it was worth. The choral part of the performance was excellent, the parts being admirably balanced and the voices moving together with an unanimity of spirit and expression to which our oratorio societies are strangers. The glorious hymn of praise which bursts forth at the coming descent of the long looked for rain, ‘Thanks be to God,’ was never sung with more spirit and brilliant effect than on this occasion. Mme. Rosa and Miss Sterling were the features in the solos. After ‘Elijah’ came Berthold’s ‘Jubilee’ overture, Dr. James Pech conducting it with his usual spirit and command. This overture, which was performed twice with much success during the past season by the Church Music Association is founded upon the Russian national hymn and is remarkable for variety of expression and contrapuntal power. Mme. Rosa next sang ‘Let the Bright Seraphim,’ accompanied by Arbuckle’s cornet obligato, and in her well known brilliant style, and Gilmore’s band played selections from ‘Martha.’ Carl Rosa conducted the ‘Freischutz’ overture with masterly skill and the rattling measures of the ‘Erie Galop’ brought the fourth day of the Jubilee to a successful close. But throughout we have had very little of Beethoven’s works on the bills, and it would be better to call it a Verdi, Flotow, Handel or Haydn festival than by the name of the wondrous genius whose name stands at the head of all composers. Two more concerts will be given today.”
The programme was more varied and more interesting than that offered during the day. [Lists program.]
The idea that suggested a partial rendering of the oratorio was a thoroughly good one. Mme. Parepa-Rosa sang superbly, and was most efficiently seconded by her associate artists, Mr. Castle being heard for the first time during the Festival. In the aria ‘Let the Bright Seraphim,’ Mme. Rosa surpassed herself, Mr. Arbuckle’s accompaniment being admirably rendered in point of truthfulness of intonation and vigor and purity of sound. Signor Filippi’s execution of ‘La Donna e Mobile’ denoted the experience of a tried artist. The dashing ‘Eerie Gallop,’ with the orchestra spurred on by the magnetism of the baton of the composer, Mr. Max Maretzek, brought the concert to a brilliant close.”
“In the evening we ha half of the long promised ‘Elijah’ by the Handel and Haydn Society, and here at least was something worthy of a festival. The audience was large, enthusiastic, and of excellent quality, and for the first time since the jubilee opened was composed a large measure of our own citizens. Nearly all the choral societies were in their places, but the work was done entirely by Mr. Zerrahn’s famous five hundred. Madame Parepa-Rosa, Miss Sterling, Mr. Castle, and Mr. Whitney took the solos. As they came upon the stage the great jubilee soprano was received with loud cheers and the chorus rose and saluted her with the waving of handkerchiefs. Zerrahn, too, had an enthusiastic greeting. Of the performance we have not a word to say but praise. Many who heard the comparatively [illeg.] singing of 2,000 persons on Monday and Tuesday must have wondered at the superb volume of tone which came from these 500; but those who knew what the Handel and Hayen [sic] can do were quite prepared for the treat which awaited them. How firmly the singers attacked every note! How carefully they kept the time! How steady they were in the most intricate and bewildering passages! How beautiful were the piano phrases, how delicate the shading and emphasis, and how grand and massively the voices swelled in the crescendo! They covered themselves indeed with glory; they showed New York societies how an oratorio ought to be sung, and [left? had?] us wondering whether, had a performance like that been given on the first day instead of the fourth the fate of the festival might not have been different. It was a great disappointment to many of us that instead of the whole oratorio which was promised, we had only half, especially as the omitted portion embraces some of Mendelssohn’s finest music. Madame Rosa and Miss Sterling lost their best solos, and Mr. Whitney lost one of the best of his. Still, we had the beautiful duet for soprano and alto, ‘[illeg.] spreadeth her hands for aid;’ the double quartette, ‘For He shalt give his angels,’ and the Angels’ quartette, ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord.’ Mr. Castle sang ‘If with all your hearts’ exceedingly well, and Miss Sterling gave ‘Woe unto Him’ with good taste and voice, if not with quite enough life. [Illeg.] comparably the best things, however, were the two dramatic dialogues between the soprano and the bass. Here Parepa is always unapproachable. Even she does [illeg.] pieces better than the one in which occurs that fine phrase ‘The Lord hath heard thy prayer, the soul of my son reviveth!’ or the scene in which, after describing ‘the heavens as brass’ above her, she beholds the ‘little cloud arising out of the sea.’ And Mr. Whitney, in the noble part of Elijah, was not unworthy of the noble company in which he was placed. He sang admirably all through. Without doubt he is the best oratorio basso in America.
We believe one or two persons in Boston said that we were envious last year because we had no jubilee. Well we don’t care about the jubilee, but there are two things for which we do envy Boston,—The Handel and Haydn Society and Carl Zerrahn.
The second part of the programme last evening was a miscellaneous selection, including nothing of note except ‘Let the Bright Seraphim,’ by Parepa and Mr. Arbuckle. It was of course encored.”
“Last night, at the Coliseum, there was a very large audience, composed almost exclusively of paying visitors. The receipts were handsome, and will go far towards placing the result of the enterprise beyond the range of pecuniary loss.
The great attraction of the evening was the first part of Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah,’ sung chiefly by the Handel and Haydn society [sic] of Boston, who, however, were largely aided by many of the general chorus, occupying the stage as on the customary nights of performance.
The Boston people, however, led off, and did themselves great credit, attacking the music with confidence and precision, and revealing a rich quality of voice. For the first time since their connection with the festival the Bostonians last night showed a desire to really do their best. It cannot be denied that the demeanor of our musical guests has not been such as to inspire the liveliest regard for their courtesy, or any intense desire for a repetition of their visit. They have taken delight in deprecating New York singers, conductors and audiences, and at the same time, until last night, failed to make, as singers, an impression at all commensurate with their reputation.
In the small portion of the ‘Elijah’ performed last night Mr. Whitney, among the soloists, had the best opportunity of displaying to advantage his admirable voice and cultivated style, while Parepa and Castle were comparatively thrown into the shade. The tenor sang ‘If with all your hearts’ with taste, but failed to create any marked effect upon the audience. In fact, the choral singing was the most notable feature of the performance. ‘Hear our Prayer’ and ‘Thanks be to God’ were given most admirably, eliciting generous applause from our local singers as well as from the audience generally.
The second part of the programme was miscellaneous. Under Dr. Pech’s baton, the orchestra played in superb style Berthold’s ‘Jubel’ overture, the same given at the recent concerts of the Church Music Association. It introduces the Russian hymn, which in this instance was supported by an unusual number of trombones and other wind instruments. Madame Parepa sang ‘Let the bright seraphim’ to the trumpet obligato of Mr. Arbuckle, rendering it in admirable style, and eliciting the usual applause. Gilmore’s band played a resonant and very pleasing adaptation from ‘Martha,’ introducing some orchestral effects that gave to the well-worn melodies the effect of novelty.
Signor Fillippi, the tenor, who sang once or twice in the last season of Italian opera, was announced for a solo, but did not appear, and the concert concluded with Maretzek’s showy ‘Erie’ galop.”
“THE CAPITAL OF MASSACHUSETTS TAKES AN INNING.
An Oratorio well Given—Increased Audiences and Decreased Choruses—Sustaining the Reputation of the American Athens—A Gilded Music Box compared with Boston’s Hurricane of Sound.
The interest in the musical festival increases, as the week draws to its close. Last evening the audience was very large, and composed of the best class of our citizens. The performance too was the best yet given. The programme was most judiciously selected. Only the first part of the ‘Elijah’ was given, and that by the Boston Handel and Haydn Society alone, without any outside assistance. Mr. Carl Zerrahn, their favorite leader, conducted. The Society have a boundless confidence in this gentleman, and not only a confidence, but an ardent affection. When he advances to the conductor’s stand, they invariably burst into friendly clapping of hands. The habit has become so confirmed that it is said that it is difficult for Handel and Haydn men—impossible for Handel and Haydn women—to meet their conductor on the street without an impulse to indulge in a private round of applause.
The society was in its best behavior. They all know that they had the reputation of that wonderful Hub to uphold, that the jealous New-Yorkers were listening to every note, and that if the Handel and Haydn broke down they would never hear the last of it. The whole five hundred braced themselves for the occasion accordingly. They had their own organist, Mr. J. C. D. Parker, a Harvard College man, and a good musician, who has done but one deed worthy of repentence [sic] that we know of, and that was his atrocious and unsingable translation of Mendelssohn’s ‘Turkish Drinking Song.’ However, this being a bad translator, does not prevent his being a good organist and he played the ‘grand Coliseum organ’ as well as so feeble an instrument could be played. If this gilded music box were to be played alongside of that little unpretending-looking hurricane of sound that the Messrs. Hook built for the Boston Jubilee, and both were played together the mere noise and r[illeg.] of the Boston instrument would blow down the gilt sham as the priests’ horns blew down the walls of Jericho. But to return to the Handel and Haydn Society. We must do them the justice to say that their performance was by far the best that we have yet had. They gave our New York societies a much needed lesson in the art of oratorio singing, by which we hope they will profit in the future. They attacked their choruses resolutely, without timidity, and sang with admirable precision throughout also with exceeding delicacy, especially in that beautiful chorus accompanying the duet for soprano and alto (sung by Madame Parepa-Rosa and Miss Sterling,) ‘Lord, bow Thine ear to our prayer.’ Usually the chorus overpowers the solo voices in this, but Mr. Zerrahn has trained them to an exquisite degree of quiet, and he also toned down his orchestra so that in other parts of the oratorio the solo voices could be heard.
This is the first time that this has been accomplished with the obstreperous orchestra since the festival began.
In fact, the oratorio, or so much of it as was sung, was such a performance as it is a delight to listen to. The only cause of regret was that it could not have been heard in a smaller hall, and so to better advantage.
The second part of the entertainment was of a miscellaneous character, and calls for no special notice. This afternoon there will be a programme of the fire-eating character, for those who like to take their music at the cannon’s mouth, and to-morrow the festival comes to an end.”