11 August 2016
“Mr. Robert Goldbeck announces a series of three subscription concerts, at Steinway’s Rooms, Nos. 71 and 73 East Fourteenth-street, to take place on Feb. 15, March 1 and 15. The intention of these soirees is to introduce the best and (in a public sense) least played works in the world, namely, Beethoven's sonatas, one of which will be given on each evening. Several of Mr. Goldbeck's vocal compositions will also be introduced, with competent singers. Mr. S. B. Mills has volunteered to assist Mr. Goldbeck, playing Bach's six preludes, with the accompaniment of a second piano.”
“The next concert takes place on Thursday, March 1.”
“Mr. Goldbeck is engaged in the very praiseworthy enterprise of introducing the complete cycle of the thirty-five [sic] sonatas of the great and immortal Beethoven, and he deserves a great deal of praise and encouragement for thus endeavoring to refine the vitiated taste of some of our citizens, who endure, if they do not actually take pleasure in, the offscourings [sic] of the modern Italian and French schools. But this enterprise is an arduous one, especially as Mr. Goldbeck also essays the compositions of Jean Sebastian Bach. Bach is undoubtedly the model from which Joseph Haydn, Albrechtsberger and Mendelssohn drew their ideas, and yet none of those Titans of music ever dared to meddle with any of his works. We were astonished, therefore, to hear that Mr. Goldbeck dared to add a second piano obligato to six preludes of his well-tempered clavicord, the source from which all his successors derived their inspiration. Although Mr. S. B. Mills played the ‘obligato,’ the result was as might have been expected—an unnecessary and dreary complication, in which the original ideas of the great father of music were entirely lost. Mr. Goldbeck’s version of the Pastoral Sonata of Beethoven was weak and uneven, and showed little of the rustic and healthful tone and coloring with which the great Ludwig endowed it at its first representation. Whether it is owing to the performer or the piano we will not definitely decide, but there is a hardness and want of elasticity about Mr. Goldbeck’s touch on the piano that is really painful. A magnificent contralto, Miss Sterling, a pupil of Signor Abella, assisted in the concert. Her cavatina from Mercadante’s Donna Caritea and Viner per te by Lucantorio was given with an expression, power and vim that far surpassed anything we have heard this season in the concert line. Her medium register of voice is like an organ in volume, sweetness and thrilling power, and her upper register, extending to A, is like a trumpet in clearness and ringing tone. Mr. Romeyn, the tenor on this occasion, possesses an amateurish, grating voice, by which we could not judge very fairly or favorably of Mr. Goldbeck’s songs which he sung.”
Full program given. “Once again we did not find the six preludes especially interesting. The main interest of this evening was Goldbeck’s songs. They are quite attractive; pretty melodies and lyrics. Miss Sterling possesses an excellent alto voice; the fullest sound we have heard in a while. Her vocalizing is also very skillful and reflects credit on her teacher Mr. Abella. What she is lacking is performance skills: nuances, dynamics, etc. We are confident this will develop.
Beethoven’s work seemed to be well understood by Goldbeck, however; we missed “aliveness” in his performance. He might have been tired. We liked Goldbeck the most performing his two songs at the end of the concert.”
“Mr. Robert Goldbeck gave his second concert at Steinway's rooms . . . and, as usual the salon was crowded to its greatest capacity. The programme opened with the performance of six preludes from the ‘well-tempered Clavichord,’ by J.S. Bach, played by Mr. R. Goldbeck and Mr. S. B. Mills, in a masterly manner. Mr. Goldbeck has arranged a second piano obligato to those preludes, and in doing so has succeeded in happily preserving the spirit of the composer. The task was a difficult one, and there are some who will regret that it was not impossible. Mr. Goldbeck played a ‘Fantasia Hongroise,’ by R. Willmers, an effective morceau by a composer who is too little known in this country; a sonata by Beethoven (the Pastoral, opus 28) and a couple of piano morceaux by himself. The sonata is one of the most difficult of the series, and in picturesqueness and intense sympathy with Nature, has never been surpassed. Mr. Goldbeck's rendering of this exquisite work gave evidence of careful and conscientious study, and of that intimate acquaintance with the form of classical music, without which it is in vain to attempt its execution. The vocalists of the occasion were Miss Sterling and Mr. G.G.Rookwood, who sang several new songs by Mr. Goldbekc. The lady (who is a pupil of signor Abella) possesses a charming contralto voice, and uses it with rare intelligence and feeling. She took the audience completely by surprise, and won a genuine success.”
Mr. Robert Goldbeck gave his second soiree at Steinway’s Rooms, before a small but very critical assemblage. . . . The most notable feature of the evening was the debut of Miss Sterling, who displayed a splendid voice and admirable training. Her voice is a true contralto, of rare beauty and purity, and rich in color, with a compass ample and commanding. Her education is most excellent, and judging from a first hearing, and necessarily limited range of pieces, we consider the debut of Miss Sterling as a genuine and deserved success. She was greeted throughout with enthusiastic demonstrations of admiration.
“Mr. Goldbeck executed his several selections with spirit and accuracy. His style of playing, like his composition, which, however has much merit, is fitful and unregulated, but he displays points of excellence which command respect, and lead us to hope for a riper judgment and a maturity more happy in results. Mr. S. B. Mills assistance was, as usual most welcome and most valuable.”