Vocal Society of New York Concert: 2nd

Event Information

Steinway Hall

Joseph Mosenthal

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
9 February 2024

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

22 Feb 1872, 8:00 PM

Program Details

Also included “Spring night” by an illegible composer.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Macfarren [composer]
Composer(s): Leslie
aka Why rage the heathen; Warum toben die Heiden
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
aka Harvest field
Composer(s): Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
aka This is my home
Composer(s): Dyer
Composer(s): Marenzio
aka Gipsy Life
Composer(s): Schumann
Composer(s): Horn [composer]
Text Author: Shakespeare


Advertisement: New-York Times, 21 February 1872, 7.
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 23 February 1872, 5.

“The concert of the Vocal Society of New-York, which took place last night at Steinway’s, was a gratifying proof of [illegible] to which a pure musical taste [illegible] training have gained [illegible] within the last few years. The Society now numbers about 70 members, and under the [leadership?] of Mr. Joseph Mosenthal have arrived at an admirable degree of proficiency in execution. Their singing is noted for promptness of attack, purity and fullness of tone, correct intonation, and good shading. Especially fine is the execution of the club when singing in male chorus. We do not remember to have heard anything more perfect in its way than the execution last night of [illegible’s] four-part chorus, ‘Spring Night.’ There was a roundness and fullness in the body of tone, accompanied with an almost velvety smoothness in the quality, which could hardly be exceeded. Equally good was their singing of Dyer’s chorus, ‘This is the Home.’ Both were heartily encored. Other prominent numbers were the charming old madrigal, ‘So Saith my Fair,’ by Luca Marenzio, Schumann’s cantata, ‘Gypsy Life;’ Macfarren’s Part Song, ‘Orpheus with his Lute;’ and Leslie’s quartette, ‘How Sweet the Moonlight.’ The Misses Hattie and Anna Bulkley sang Mendelssohn’s two-part song, ‘The Harvest Field,’ and in response to an encore, a fine old setting of Shakespeare’s words, “I Know a Bank.’ Mr. [illegible’s] fine voice and honest thoroughness of style won enthusiastic applause in [illegible’s] song, ‘My love is like a red, red rose,’ as in the pleasant ballad, [illegible]. The whole concert was [illegible] appreciated by the large (invited) audience, and the tone of [illegible] enjoyment and freedom which prevailed among the company made the whole affair more like a [illegible] reunion than any more set and formal occasion.”

Review: New York Sun, 24 February 1872, 2.

“Our city has been peculiarly unfortunate in the matter of its oratorio societies. There have been none that have reflected upon it any great degree of credit, and we have had the mortification of seeing other and smaller cities take the lead of us in this direction. Even the little town of Salem boasts a superior choral organization of this class. But there are compensations, and one of them is the Vocal Society, which makes a specialty of madrigal singing, and which under Mr. Mosenthal’s very able direction has become as efficient a body of singers as any in the country.

Although the society has this specialty to which we have referred, in the revival of which it has taken a new and most happy departure, it has by no means confined itself to madrigals. The programmes are framed in a broad, varied, and liberal spirit. The German part-song writers find a place there, and the solos, which relieve and contrast with the choral parts, are selected from the time of Bach to the balladists of our own day. It is pleasant to find the name of Henry Leslie among the rest, for he is a composer but little known here, and yet he stands in the front rank in England. There he led for many years the Musical Society of Amateurs, a club not unlike the Vocal Society in its material and aims, and when that dissolved, he formed the still more famous organization known as Mr. Leslie’s Choir, which became a revelation to the people of the perfection of expression that could be reached by a large and severely trained body of vocalists. Leslie has written a little of almost every class of composition, stringed quartettes, symphonies, oratorios, and overtures; but after all, his vocal works bear the palm; and what fine work he could do in this direction was amply illustrated by the exquisite trio for soprano, alto, and tenor, ‘O Memory, fond Memory!’ and the quartette ‘How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank!’ both of which were upon the Vocal Society’s programme on Thursday evening, and both of which were charmingly sung.

The noblest, largest, and strongest piece upon the programme was undoubtedly Mendelssohn’s setting of the second psalm of David; the weakest was Mr. S. O. Dyer’s chorus for men’s voices, ‘This is the Hour.’ This, after all, is a compliment to the programme, since it indicates that it was strong even in its weakest part. For though Mr. Dyer has written in plain harmony, avoiding the quicksands of counterpoint, and though he has but echoed the well worn forms as such lesser men as Abt, still his composition was smooth, melodious, and pleasant, even if not exciting. To this element of excitement Mendelssohn sufficiently appealed in his grand and beautiful psalm for double quartette and double choir. It is not only a work planned and executed with consummate skill, but it has also the character of inspiration, being written in that vein of exultation and deep religious fervor which were among the high attributes of this many-sided composer. In presenting to the public such works as these, the Vocal Society fulfils its highest and noblest mission.

The solo as well as the chorus singing was of a high character. Miss Hattie and Miss Annie Buckley [Bulkley] are unusually good vocalists. The former has a charming and unaffected manner, and a voice of sweet and sympathetic nature; the latter is no less reliable a singer, but needs to be careful lest the metallic quality become the predominating one in her voice.

Mr. Baird is a vocalist who constantly improves. In quality of tone he has scarcely any superiors among our concert singers. Men of twice his reputation have not half his gifts. His voice and method are both in a marked degree like those of Mr. Santley. He enunciates as well, sings as simply and as purely, and with the same training would have made an artist of conspicuous merit.”

Review: New-York Times, 24 February 1872, 5.

“The above Society gave a concert on Thursday evening, consisting of madrigals, quartets and part songs, such as they have for three seasons accustomed us to enjoy. It shows the wealth of good music in this department that so few of the pieces chosen for Thursday had ever been sung in public before. The programme was a most interesting one, affording sufficient variety without killing those contrasts in style which so often destroy the effect of the best music. The part-song ‘Orpheus with his lute,’ by MacFarren, is one of those excellent compositions, so numerous at present, which are built on the strict and learned models of two hundred years ago, while the vocal parts move with modern ease and fluency. The same may be said of the quartet, ‘How sweet the moonlight,’ by Henry Leslie, the director of the famous Model Choir. A trio, by the same writer, called ‘Memory,’ was particularly enjoyable from its clearness. Many people are unable to follow four parts at once, but nearly all persons can follow three. Mendelssohn’s psalm, ‘Why rage the heathen,’ was a disappointment, being, as a composition, unusually harsh and dry. This was felt in spite of the admirable manner in which it was sung. With the recollection of the Dolby quartet fully in our minds, it is impossible to describe the singing of the Vocal Society as other than exquisite. They combine the precision of our most famous amateur club with greater sweetness of tone. Their singing of ‘Orpheus with his lute,’ in particular, seemed at the time to surpass all our previous experience of part-singing.”