Academy of Music
Price: $1.50; $8 subscription for five concerts and 15 rehearsals
5 May 2013
“[A]n overture by Bargiel, played here for the first time.”
“The programme will be both interesting and excellent.”
“The Academy of Music was crowded last evening with the lovers and votaries of the true classic method of the German masters, on occasion of the second concert of the season given by the above well known organization. The audience enjoyed a musical treat such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Bargiel, ‘rendered by an irreproachable orchestra, and the brilliant and wonderful violinist, M. Jenin Prume, must necessarily afford. The programme consisted of the following pieces, capable of taxing the training and powers of the eighty members comprising the orchestra to the utmost; but rendered by them in a style which called forth deserved applause. . . .
The most noteworthy gems on this programme were the Overture to Prometheus and the Midsummer Night’s Dream. The former was the chef d’oeuvre of the evening. The agonies and despair of the accursed of the gods, as the hideous vulture gnaws at his vitals on the bleak rock of Tartarus, are faithfully, nay, almost painfully portrayed in this weird-like phlegethon of a harmony.
The selections from the Midsummer Night’s Dream consisted of the choicest morceaux of that work. The first was the Overture, composed eighteen years before the remainder of the work, and beautifully likened by a German writer to the trunk of a majestic tree, from which twigs and branches spread in every direction, never losing their kindred resemblance to the parent tree. A scherzo or introduction to the dialogue between Puck and a fairy, in 3-8 time (allegro passionato), which occurs at the close of the second act, and is intended to represent the search of Hermia for Lysander. She loses her way in the forest, and the short and often repeated motive of the Oboi which represents her call melts away in the distance, giving place to a lively strain in 2-4 measure, which introduces Quick, Bottom and their jolly companions. The next piece was a Nottorno andante tranquillo, in ¾ time, which represents Hermia and Helena, Lysander and Demetrius asleep. The organ-like effect of the brass instruments in this exquisite strain testified to the high training and careful rehearsals of the orchestra. The Midsummer Night’s Dream was fitly closed by the grand Wedding March, to which the orchestra imparted effect rarely heard in this city, even by those most familiar with it. M. Prume’s execution on the violin was marked by a distinctness of tone and expression in the most rapid pizzicato passages, which few so called masters on that monarch of instruments could attempt. The fantasie, composed by himself, introduces some novel and extraordinary but exquisite passages, which called for an encore. As no piece could be repeated, according to the rules of the programme, he was obliged to bow his acknowledgments again and again the the vast audience. Carl Bergmann was conductor for the evening.”
“The second concert of the present season took place on Saturday evening at the Academy of Music, and the attendance we are glad to say, exhibited a marked improvement on that of the first concert. This was attributable, we believe, to the eclectic character of the programme. There was a little of everything, and everything, happily, was of the best. Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, with its popular scherzando and minuetto, has never been played better. Indeed, the excellence of the orchestra throughout the entire concert was surprising. Even Mendelssohn’s music to the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ with its delicate fluttering of fancy and filmy texture of harmony was rendered clearly. We are sure that the revival of this music has added considerably to the subscription list of the society. Its performance was certainly all that could be desired. Mr. Bergmann is one of the few conductors who know the difference between what is quaint and that which is merely grotesque—a difference which was not apprehended [sic] by the writer of the silly stuff which was published on the back of the programme descriptive of this music. The scribbler of this delectable bosh likens the overture to ‘the trunk of a majestic tree, from which twigs and branches spread in every direction!’ He says also, with admirable German frankness, ‘that it cannot be denied that just such music as occurs in the drama was wanting to make the idea complete’—meaning Shakespeare's idea. We have every respect for Mendelssohn, but this seems to us to be going a little too far. The drama referred to has had some success; and, if we are not mistaken, it was quite favorably spoken of before Mendelssohn was born. Even now it is more often played without his music than with it, and yet we seldom hear complaints of its incompleteness.
Bargiel’s overture to ‘Prometheus’ is a long, elaborate and interesting work. It exhibits the technical knowledge of the composer, rather than his invention. The rhythms are strongly marked, the combinations rich, the treatment open and bold; but the ideas are short and feverish, and there is certainly no trace of that immortal anguish, that grand epic tribulation, which the legend gives us. Nevertheless, the work is interesting.
Mr. Jehin Prume, the violinist, was the soloist. He played Mendelssohn’s well-known Concerto in E with superb clearness and connection. The gentleman’s tone is not important, but his execution is tremendous and in every respect musical and true.”
Better attended than the first concert. The violin soli of Jehin Prume were performed technically well; his style, however, is too “frilly,” full of redundant ornamentation typical of the modern virtuosos.
“New York, Dec. 18. The second Philharmonic Concert took place on Saturday evening, Dev. 16. Here is the programme: . . .
The charming 8th Symhony was on the whole rendered finely. Bargiel’s overture did not make so good an impression on us as that to ‘Medea,’ which we heard last year. It opens grandly and nobly, and reminds us of Gluck, but it does not come to any decided climax. It is monotonous in its coloring; the motives lack originality; the work is spun out rather too much, and its effect on the hearer grows somewhat fatiguing. The music to the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ which has not been heard here for some time, was welcome to every listener, and excellently played by the orchestra. Mendelssohn, more refined than profound, rather a great contrapuntal combiner than an inventor of original ideas, if heard too often fatigues and satiates us at length. His works have been played too much for the good of our young students, who, neglecting a deep study of what is really great in him have become superifical imiatators of his mere style and manner. A little reaction will be only beneficial to a true appreciation of the master himself. M. Prume whom we were glad to hear again, especially in a fine Concerto, made quite an impression on the public by his performance.” [Signed by Lancelot]