Chamber (includes Solo)
5 August 2015
“The fifth soirée of Chamber Music took place . . . on Saturday evening, when the following interesting programme was discussed: 1. Quartette, in B opus. 18, No. 6 by Beethoven; 2. Sonata Le trille due [sic] Diable, by Partini [sic], (performed on the violen [sic] with extraordinary skill and clearness by Mr. Theodore Thomas); 3. Quintette for piano and stringed instrument [sic] in A Minor op. 107, by Raff. These morceaux were faithfully and artistically interpreted . . . An unusual but acceptable vocal innovation was made by Mr. August Kreismann [sic], a capital concert singer, who sang half a dozen German songs with rare intelligence and nicety of feeling. Three were by Schumann and three by Franz–the last a composer who is steadily making his way in classic esteem. Franz's treatment of a film of melody, of an atomic idea, is generally good and frequently singularly delicate and fresh. It is not difficult, however, to detect a very strong tendency toward Schubert. Without the pleasant plashing [sic] of the piano, it would be difficult to attach either meaning or importance to the very turgid sentences which are here supposed to pass muster as songs. They are in fact mere suggestions for the spirited repartée of the piano; occasions for skillful embroidery; opportunities for answering neat little musical questions, and doing it rather learnedly. Such works lack strength, but they are polished, and in a certain way, perfect, especially when interpreted by an intelligent singer like Mr. Kreismann [sic], and an admirable accompanyist [sic] like Mr. William Mason.”
“Music. FIFTH SOIREE OF CHAMBER MUSIC. The instrumental Quartette party, consisting of Messrs. Mason, Thomas, Mosenthal, Matzka and Bergner, gave their Fifth Soiree . . . before a large and critical audience. . . . .
The No. 6 Quartette of Beethoven is a work of varied beauty, each movement being marked by such distinct characteristics. The first is singularly melodious, full of beautiful phrases and rich and elaborate harmony. The third is distinguished by the peculiarity of its accent, which imparts to it a piquancy which is very effective.
The second is a grave and broadly conceived melody, full of tenderness and very thoughtful. It is warbled out with great power. The third is distinguished by the peculiarity of its accent, which imparts to it a piquancy which is very effective. [sentence repeated from last paragraph] The fourth opens with a brief movement of a profoundly melancholy character, leading into an agitato which is replete with wild and despairing expression. We were not very much impressed with the performance of this work. Numbers 1 and 2 were best rendered, although the adagio was neither as broadly expressive, nor as marked in expression, as its character demanded. The Scherzo was very faulty in intonation throughout, in some parts painfully so, and the meaning of the Allegretto finale was quite mistaken, illustrating rather rollicking fun than the emotion of despairing grief.
Mr. Kreissman [sic] sang three selections by Schumann which were more fragments, rich in harmony, but deficient in melody, very pleasantly. He has a voice of large compass, and good quality, and he sings with emphasis and expression. His singing lacks the grace of the Italian school, but his energy which is somewhat rough is very effective. His second selection, three songs by Robert Franz, afforded him more swope [sic][scope?]. They are charming compositions, with harmony as rich, but with more melody than Schumann’s; still in these the piano is made too important a feature for local effect. Mr. Kreissman [sic] received two encores and gave evident delight to a large number of his friends.
Tartini’s ‘Le trille du diable’ is a composition of rare merit. The subject is noble, and there is an eloquence in the flow of its movement which can hardly be excelled. Those old writers were very earnest in thought, and although their little quips and turns seemed to savor of smallness, there was a native nobility of manner which could not be hidden. Mr. Thomas executed the Sonata with much mechanical excellence. He gave to it a certain amount of breadth, but the hardness of his manner and his deficiency in grace and tenderness of style, militate against his success as a solo performer.
Raff’s Quintette for piano and strings is the most uninteresting composition we ever heard. It is a compound of abstruse nonentities, which rare glimpses of melodious scraps only serve to render more dreary. It is a hurry-scurry from beginning to end, and does not contain one spark of true musical inspiration. It is music made by a mechanic, not very particular from whence he takes his materials, and making very bad use of that which he appropriates. With such numberless beautiful works from which to select we look upon it as very bad judgment to have chosen so worthless a composition. The time spent upon its practice was all wasted. The production of such works serves no good purpose; it neither elevates the character of classical music nor refines the taste, and to bring it out merely because it is new, is sheer nonsense.”
About the recent soiree of Messrs. Mason and Thomas, unfortunately we can report based only on hearsay, because illness prevented our attendance. Mr. Thomas’ lecture on Tartini’s well-known composition, “Le trille du diable,” is especially vaunted: in style and concept it was reminiscent of Joachim. The well-known singer from Boston, Mr. August Kreissmann, seemed to have made a deep impression through his poetic rendition of several songs of Schumann and Franz Schubert. That Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 18 No. 6 was pleasing; is self-evident, whereas we are sorry to have to report that Raff’s Piano-Quintet, with which the evening closed, was only partially appealing. The work’s place should stand far behind that of his trio, recently heard.