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28 April 2012
. . . Finally, we will hear very shortly a violinist of whom they speak marvels. This virtuoso is none other than M. Fr. Jehan-Prume, student and nephew of the late lamented Francois Prume, well-known author of La Mélancolie and other pieces which have had a lasting success in Europe, and who was carried off by cholera at the age of thirty-three.
“Mr. Jehin Prume, a nephew of the celebrated violinist and composer, Prume, a pupil of that gentleman, will give his first concert tonight at Irving Hall, . . . Mr. Prume, who is quite a young man, gave the other day a private entertainment at the rooms of Messrs. Steinway & Sons, and we are glad to hear highly favorable reports about his technical development.”
“Solo violinist to Leopold, King of the Belgians, will give his first Concert in New York.”
“The first concert of this accomplished violinist . . . resulted in the complete success of the debutant. Mr. Prume comes to us with the endorsement of being solo violinist to the King of the Belgians, and the artistic merits he displayed deserve the highest consideration. The other performers, including [Harrison, Mills and] George S. Weeks, rendered the concert throughout a most enjoyable one and will well hear repetition.”
“MR. JEHIN PRUME’S CONCERT. Mr. Jehin Prume’s Concert . . . was quite largely attended. His reputation was but little known here, but as he came from a good stock and a good school, we expected much from his performance and we were not disappointed. He has a grand and pure tone; powerful in its out speaking quality and rich in its expressive and sentimental inflections. His execution is brilliant, clear and decisive; his stopping is accurate and firm, and his bowing more emphatic, perhaps, than graceful, but wonderfully effective. His style is of the demonstrative romantic school, which permits of exaggerated expression—a permit of which Mr. Prume avails himself to the fullest extent. His manner is broad and emphatic, but he indulges, too, in the glissando, an effect admirable when sparingly used, but mawkishly sentimental when indulged in lavishly. Still, we must rank Mr. Prume very high as a solo violinist, and we are satisfied that he will make a marked success in this country, for his strong points are just those which tell upon the masses. We trust we shall soon have an opportunity of hearing him again.
Miss Zelda Harrison has a most beautiful voice and is steadily progressing in excellence. She sings most effectively and is very popular with her audience. She strives, perhaps, a little too much, to display the whole compass of her voice, in doing which she sacrifices good taste for effect. This habit is pernicious and should be avoided. Weeks has a very charming voice and is rapidly improving. Mr. S. B. Mills played very finely, as usual, and was vehemently applauded. The concert was a great success throughout and will, we hope, encourage Mr. Prume to give another.”
Very well attended by a sophisticated audience whose expectations were not only met but exceeded. Mr. Prume displayed skill and taste. The instrument seemed to have become alive under his hands with a diversity of moods and emotions being expressed. The audience applauded enthusiastically and asked for several encores.
Two new promising talents performed with success in this concert: the alto singer Miss Zelda Harrison and the tenor George Weeks. Mr. Mills was as usual brilliant and was very well received.
“Concert of Mr. Jehin Prume.—The expectations which the public had of an artist who bears a name so well known and esteemed as that of Prume, attracted a large audience . . . and we are happy to state that these expectations were realized to a great extent. Mr. Prume is a gentleman who evidently has appeared frequently in the concert-room, and is no novice in his art. His style is eminently French, and of the same school which was best represented by Bazzini, Ole Bull, Beriot, Prume, and which disappears more and more since Joachim, Laub, Singer, and other classical German players, have returned to the old masters. We therefore must judge Mr. Prume exclusively from the standing-point of a salon-player; and in this respect, he is a very talented and admirable artist. His playing is technically marvelous, and there are no difficulties which Mr. Prume does not overcome with the greatest ease. His ‘staccato’ is distinct and graceful, his flageolet pure and sympathetic; he plays the chromatic scale perfect, and he renders every ‘fioritura’ and ‘cadenza’ exceedingly well. His bowing is also very good, although not free from coquetry. If the foregoing qualifications alone would suffice to constitute the claim of a modern violinist to the name of a first-class artist, we should not hesitate to call Mr. Prume so. But Mr. Prume lacks some essential qualities for such a name. His tone is very small, and he almost incessantly whines whenever he has to play portamento or rostenuto [sic]. He phrases well enough, but he never gives the last note of a phrase its full value, but removes his bow with a disagreeable suddenness. He furthermore lacks quietude, and works painfully with his entire body during every variation, as if he wanted to show how difficult it was to get a certain figure out of the instrument. He also very often corrects the composer’s work with an amiable ‘insouciance,’ which was especially disagreeable in his rendition of Ernst's ‘Elegy,’ a piece seldom heard to greater disadvantage. As a result of Mr. Prume's playing on Saturday last, we have to say that he has nothing more to learn, but a great deal to unlearn, and this he will undoubtedly do, as he is a young gentleman yet. A number of well-meaning, but highly injudicious friends, interrupted every piece by their extremely offensive applause, and evidently embarrassed the artist. Of the artists assisting Mr. Prume, we mention Mr. Mills, who played superbly as ever, and Miss Zelda Harrison, a very promising young mezzosoprano, who was exceedingly well received.”
The violinist Mr. Prume was very well received, to the point that his playing was interrupted by applause. We hope that this success will not rise to his head, because then he might not feel the need to improve his skills. We consider the way he moves his bow as imperfect, which takes away from his technical brilliance. His sound is small, his style even “smaller,” and his performance is overly sentimental. In addition, the choice of his music is highly uninteresting. Many years ago, his uncle Prume’s “melancholic” performance style was fashionable, especially when played with excellent technical skill, which his nephew still has to learn. However, nowadays we prefer a stronger performance style.
Mr. Weeks was received very well; we disagree. He sounded as though he had not “digested his last meal yet.”