William [director-cond.] Hartmann
9 June 2016
“The concert of the ‘Arion’ on Saturday night at Irving Hall was one of the very best ever given by the society. The singing of the male chorus was neat, finished and most effective. The orchestra gave entire satisfaction, and Mr. Appy played delightfully Prume’s ‘Melancholie.’ The programme concluded with a vocal and orchestral symphony by Raff, who as a composer is like the man with a patent cork leg who got going and couldn’t stop. The length of this symphony made it most tedious.
The soloists of the evening were Bosisio and Lotti. The former was not a success as a concert singer, though the audience applauded most courteously. Lotti, whose voice seems to have gained in strength, certainly sang very effectively in a romanza by Donizetti and in a quartet by Meyerbeer.”
“The members of the Arion Society gave their first grand concert at Irving Hall, on Saturday evening. The attendance was extremely good—a just reward for a programme of varied excellence. M. Bergmann presided in the orchestra, and under his steady baton a couple of overtures and several accompaniments were performed. Bargiel's overture to ‘Medea’ was interesting to such of the audience who care to watch the present musical growth of Germany. It is a clear and intelligible production; smooth, melodious and pleasing, but tame and drowsy, and not at all suggestive of the subject. The concert was mainly vocal, the society distinguishing itself by many excellent performances. The best of these were the two Volkslieder of the second part, which were sung almost faultlessly, and the Fest-Cantate, with which the concert closed. The latter is by Raff, a young composer, who has heretofore abandoned himself to the extravagances of the so-called school of the Future, but who, in this work at least, seems to have recanted, and to be amongst the scholars of the past. The cantata is deficient in variety; the themes bearing a sort of family likeness to each other. The composer seems to be unable to emancipate himself from the thraldom of the first idea. He tries vigorously, with the aid of the orchestra to do so, and leads the mind to the expectation of a new subject of unusual vigor, but when the moment arrives it is Monsieur Tonson once again. The work is very well made, and as far as it goes, interesting. It is decidedly in the style of the old oratorios. The soloists of the evening were Mlle. Bosisio, M. Lotti, and Signor Appy. Of the lady, we have no desire to speak harshly. It must, however, be quite evident to every one by this time that her knowledge of singing is far too limited either for the stage or the concert room. Her voice is naturally good, and her appearance eminently prepossessing, but these qualities do not make up for a defective education or the insipidity that results from it. Mlle. Bosisio needs study, and much study. The audience very gallantly applauded the lady on Saturday night, and encored the Bolero from the ‘Sicilian Vespers,’ which we have no hesitation in saying has never been sung so badly in this city. It was amazing to note how dexterously the accompanyist, Mr. Shreiner, would turn sharp corners, bolt across lots, and come up gasping, with a chord in his hand for the fair but faulty cantatrice, whose least merit is her observance of time. Mr. Lotti sang the romanza from ‘Don Sebastian’ with excellent taste and effect. His voice, always good in compass, has increased materially in power, and goes up to C in alt with ease and fullness. He was deservedly applauded, and had to repeat his piece. Signor Appy performed his violin solo with exquisite taste and the neatest of execution. We have omitted to mention that Mr. Weinlich sang the solo part of the cantata, and with Herr Muller and Mr. Quint assisted in the quartette from Meyerbeer's ‘Prophete.’”
The concert was well attended; the program, the participants and the performance were evidence that Arion had put a lot of effort into this event. Some of the pieces were performed for the first time, for example Liszt’s “Ueber den Wipfeln” [sic]. Although it was performed excellently, it did not impress. The beginning of the song was pleasant, however, in its course, and more so towards the end, when peculiar repetitions and pauses before “Warte – warte – warte” appear, the favorable impression of the beginning was eventually destroyed. However, the introduction of the French horns into the composition in the beginning of the song is original and effective. The Silcher Volkslieder are very attractive, which actually are heavy compositions. The composer probably called them “Volkslieder”, because he integrated melodies of traditional Volkslieder. “Nur Du Allein” was performed very well whereas the performance of “Erfrorne Blumen” searched for effect too much and thus seemed artificial. For that it was rather the conductor than the singers to blame. The “Fest Cantata” was sung with precision and verve. Tiring for the audience was the seemingly endless base solo in the beginning of the piece. The most effective part was the ending, which is by the way intended to be sung by big choruses indicated by the colossal instrumentation. Mr. Weinlich performed his solo well. The quartet out of Le Prophete was also performed very well by all singers. Mr. Lotti excelled with his romance out of Dom Sebastien. He sang it better than ever heard before by Massimiliani. Appy is a very accomplished violinist and played beautifully. Bosisio’s performance of the “Gnadenaria” was peculiar and unspectacular; however, the “Bolero” was deservedly received well by the audience. Bergmann’s orchestra performed the two overtures flawlessly.