Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]
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3 October 2017
“[W]ith his finely organized force of sixty artists.”
“Theodore Thomas’s fourth symphonic concert . . . was unusually enjoyable. The orchestral features were a symphony (No. 1 in D) by Mozart, the ‘Coriolanus’ overture by Beethoven, and a richly melodious symphony in E flat (op. 97) by Schumann. This last—which occupied the entire second part of the programme—comprises five movements, and was favorably received, notwithstanding its great length.
The vocalist of the evening was Miss Kellogg, who was warmly applauded for her intelligent rendering of an aria from ‘Der Freischutz’ and her graceful singing of Vedrai Carina from ‘Don Giovanni.’ Miss Schneider, a new lady pianist, played with delicacy and taste, a concerto by Mendelssohn. The lady is a pupil of William Mason.”
“These valuable entertainments are always well attended, but on the present occasion, as the weather happened to be fine, there was a larger and more appreciative audience than usual. The instrumental pieces were Mozart's symphony No. 1, in D; Mendelssohn's concerts [sic] for piana [sic] op. 25 in G; Beethoven's overture to ‘Coriolanus,’ and Schumann's symphony No. 3 op. 99 in E flat. These works were rendered with marked ability by the very fine piano [sic] orchestra under Mr. Thomas’ baton. The piano-forte part of the concerto was interpreted by Miss Schneider, a lady who possesses an excellent touch and a great deal of clear and delicate execution. The concerto is somewhat fatiguing, and did not gain in ease by the very rapid tempo at which he [sic] was taken. Although deficient in strength, Miss Schneider played most creditably. She is a lady whose intelligence and skill reflect credit on her own industry, and on the careful tuition of Mr. William Mason, her master. Schumann's symphony occupied the whole of the second part, and was well placed, for it assuredly deserves to be studied alone. It would at all events be injured by having anything before it except the interval for refreshment, or after it except the carriage, stage or stretcher, in which to be carried home. As a symphonic work it is distinguished by great length, and by a carefulness of treatment which sometimes results in excessive attenuation. Every one must recognize the knowledge displayed in so elaborate a production, but is difficult to detect an equal wealth of idea. Homer sometimes nods, but it has often seemed to us that Schumann in his lengthy works goes to sleep and snores. It is perhaps proper, in view of that important fact, to keep respectfully silent, but with the constant drugging we get of this great and eccentric master’s fame it is hard to do so. Some there are who bolt him whole, and at whose voracity we gaze, with respectful admiration, not wholly unmixed with awe; others take him for granted like the solar system; only a few are willing to concede that he might occasionally be tedious. A full half of the present symphony is traceable to pure work. It is skilled in its highest form perhaps, but still labor. In the remaining half, there are passages of extreme beauty. The second and third movements are good; the treatment in the last being remarkable for its delicacy and freshness. On the whole we have to thank Mr. Thomas for an excellent performance of a difficult work, which, if inadequate in many respects, and tedious and cruelly long, is at least masterly and attractive in some. The vocalist of the occasion was Miss Kellogg, who sang Agathe’s scena from ‘Der Freischutz’ in a thoroughly artistic manner. Subsequently she rendered equal justice to Mozart's aria Vedari carnio [sic] from ‘Don Giovanni.’ Mr. Thomas cannot be sufficiently praised for the liberal way in which he always provides for the vocal items on his programme.”
“The attendance was larger than at the third Concert, a proof that the public is becoming more and more interest in the series. . . .
A better programme could not be asked for. It contains no weak spot the selections are all of equal merit and of the highest standard. Mozart’s Symphony is a masterpiece of instrumentation, a model in scientific treatment and inspiration of pure and unmixed beauty. The first movement, Adagio, is a bold and well defined subject, leading directly to an Allegro, which is wonderful in the freshness of thought and the beauty of its melody. The answering points between the several groups of instruments display Mozart’s profound knowledge of their marked characteristics and the distinct timbres, and afford an endless variety of coloring of which the ear never tires. There is a delicious pedal point in this movement, as charming in every respect as that in the Trio of Schumann’s No. 3 Symphony. The Andante is broad in character, tender and passionate in sentiment, and worked with that dramatic skill in which Mozart has no rivals except Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Modern writers grasping the increased resources of the orchestra may pile up masses until the walls shake with the grandeur of the sound, but such power is only relatively great and the contrast is only found in the fine shades of coloring by the alternate use of the several masses, stringed, wood or brass, of which composers we have quoted afford the finest examples. Their school is the only true school, because its fundamental principle is based upon distinctive characteristics,l which combine to form the perfect whole, and which, though homogenious [sic], can be individualized as to give that variety and harmony which the colors of the palet [sic] afford to the painter’s canvas.
Weber’s grand scena from Der Freyshutz has been often essayed during the past few years by both native and foreign singers, mostly with but indifferent effect. Miss Kellogg’s version of it we consider the best that we have heard. She has studied its characteristics up to a point of thorough understanding and imparts to it that dramatic coloring which its varied sentiment requires. The prayer was given with warm and devotional expression, which called forth murmurs of applause, and the finale was a burst of hopeful joy, strikingly effective from its genuine truthfulness. Altogether it was a performance calculated to elevate in a marked degree Miss Kellogg’s artistic standing. The orchestra accompaniment was very indifferent. It was altogether deficient in coloring, and afforded the singer no manner of support. Miss Kellogg’s second selection was chastely and beautifully sung.
Miss Caroline Schneider’s debut as a pianist was a decided and well-deserved success. She rendered Mendelssohn’s fine concerto intelligently and brilliantly. She has passion, fire and expression; her touch is firm and delicate, her execution brilliant and distinct, her phrasing excellent, and her interpretation of the scope and meaning of her author faithful. This single performance places her in a fine position, and the development of her talents reflects great credit upon her teacher, Mr. William Mason. She played upon a very fine grand piano of Steinway & Sons.
The third symphony by R. Schumann we noticed at length when it was performed at the Brooklyn Philharmonic Concert under Mr. Eisfeld’s direction. We esteem it the finest of Schumann’s symphonic works, and place it beside the best examples of that class of composition. The first movement is bold and grand in thought, and massively rich in harmony, and full of sentiment and expression. The fourth movement in the fugue style is a masterly composition, and is deeply interesting from its varied and scientific treatment, while the finale is grand and spirited in its subject, with a brilliant and effective close. The work was listened to throughout with profound attention, and was warmly received in every part. It was very ably executed, but it was inferior to the Brooklyn performance, in sentiment and feeling and in artistic coloring. Mozart’s symphony was, however, well performed, not only in accuracy but in delicacy, expression and in dramatic effect.”
Review notes that it is the Mozart Symphony in D, “ohne Menuett,” i.e., no. 38, “Prague”
“To open a program with Mozart’s bubbling, melodious style, always guarantees a cheerful mood in the audience. His Symphony in D did just that. In order to end a program in a solemn and sublime mood, Schumann’s E-flat Symphony was well chosen by Theodore Thomas. The atmosphere of dignity and consecration in this work carries with it a foreboding of the composer’s death. Schumann died 4 years later. Unbeknownst to many, the Cologne Cathedral inspired Schumann to write this symphony. The uncharacteristic fifth movement was influenced by the anointment of the Archbishop V. Geissel to Cardinal. It was Schumann’s intention to use national popular elements in the other movements. National popular music in its finest expression, we would say.
Miss Kellogg did not satisfy us with her performance of the Freischütz aria. The intelligent and highly talented singer lacked creative expression in parts where even mediocre German singers do well. After all, to grasp the subtleties of German music, only German musicians are able to interpret it effectively.
A pleasant surprise was the debut of the new pianist, Miss Caroline Schneider. She is a student of Wm. Mason’s and played Mendelssohn’s G minor concerto with technical skill and artistic expression.”