16 October 2018
The performances of the orchestra, the chorus and soloists were excellent. The program was well chosen.
“The programme was by far the most interesting that Mr. Thomas has yet selected. [Lists program and performers.]
Bargiel is a writer of positive talent; he produces solid, well-considered works. It is good music if not brilliant; it has strength in conception, and is not wanting in imagination; still it falls a little short of originality. His treatment of the orchestra is broad and comprehensive; his efforts are massive, leaning a little too much toward the loudly demonstrative, and certainly far behind Schumann in the art of varied and delicate coloring, and his forms, founded on the Beethoven model, are generally clear and well-defined. He is a master of modulation, but his melodies are neither as great hearted nor as vocal as those of his great model. Still, we listen to his works with great pleasure, and acknowledge his thorough mastery of all the resources of his art. The finest movements in this symphony are the first and second, the others, though good, are weak. It was admirably performed by the orchestra, Mr. Thomas having better sway over the members than he has ever before exhibited. The influence of the conductor’s mind was clearly perceptible in the promptitude, efficiency, feeling, and subtle coloring displayed in the whole performance. Mr. Thomas is making rapid strides in the knowledge, not only of the practical duties, but in the aesthetics of conducting.
The greatest triumph of Mlle. Parepa this continent [sic] was achieved on Saturday evening; she has won most flattering and well-deserved honors before, but she reached the crowning point on that occasion. Beethoven's Aria 'Ah Perfido!' is one of the grandest vocal compositions extant. It is grand in every characteristic; it is intensely dramatic, fiery in its passionate expression, [illeg.] profoundly tender in its sentiment. It is a [illeg.] history told in the most passionate and emphatic manner. It was first sung by Mrs. Edward Loder, nextby [sic] Miss Brainerd, and lately by Mlle. Parepa. In every respect Mlle. Parepa rendered this scene wonderfully. The recitations were given with infinite dramatic power, no declamation coudl have been finer, and every place of passionate expression in the aria was rendered fautlessly, each phrase duly weighed and calculated, giving to the whole aria strong artistic color, and an interpretation at once simple, grand, and truthful. It was singing in its highest excellence, and was altogether faultless. Her second aria, 'If guiltless blood,' presented the same exquisite finish, the same purity of style, and the same just emphasis and dramatic expression. Her voice, if not quite as freshly resonant as when we first heard her, was in fine order, and she managed it with that grace and ease which prove her mastery over all the resources of the voice. Her efforts were greeted with the highest enthusiasm, and genuine admiration was expressed on every side.
Mr. Carl Wolfsohn performed his selection from Chopin in a manner to call forth the approbation of both the critics and the professors. The work requires peculiar reading, demands much intellectual effort, no small amount of imagination, and a variety in the phrasing which could only be gained by close and intelligent study. In these points especially Mr. Wolfsohn distinguished himself, proving that he had thoroughly mastered the author's meaning and had the capacity to interpret it. He played it gracefully and passionately, lacking only in some parts a tenderness of touch necessary to give voice to the eloquent passages of pathos and sentiment. As a whole, however, the performance reflected honor upon the young and talented artist, and ranks him with our best masters. His second piece was brilliantly and effectively performed, and for both he received the cordial applause of a very critical audience.
The Liederkranz Society sang well, and the Melusine Overture by Mendelssohn, which is always welcome, was finely played. On the whole it was a rare intellectual treat for which the public cannot be too grateful to Mr. Theodore Thomas. The hall, we are pleased to say, was crowded to overflowing."
“Mr. Theodore Thomas gave his third symphonic soirée on Sat. evening, and we were glad to notice a full attendance on the occasion. The program was more than usually interesting. It opened with Bargiel’s Symphony in C, opus 30—a work of which a great deal has been written. It is more remarkable for counterpoint than color, treatment than idea, length than breadth. Without being in any way obscure—except rhythmically—it is in the highest degree uninstructive. There are plenty of quartets for stringed instruments as good as the symphony, and indeed we have often wondered that some ingenious but unscrupulous composer has not warmed up Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven with extra orchestration. Mr. Bargiel’s production is simply an overgrown quartet. The stringed instruments have it almost exclusively to themselves, and not a thought is uttered which could not adequately be expressed on four fiddles.
The symphony was the principal, and indeed the only important orchestral work in the program; for Mendelssohn’s overture to ‘Melusine,’ although highly agreeable, can hardly be considered a novelty, and Beethoven’s choral fantasie depends mostly on the piano and the voice. Mr. Carl Wolfssohn played the solo in the last named work with great clearness and effect. He was admirably supported by the orchestra, which, we are glad to say, gave the work without the abbreviations which are too frequently made. The quaintness of the variations—necessarily a little old fashioned—is thoroughly delightful, and their melodiousness makes them and the other portions of the fantasie acceptable to all ears. Mr. Wolfssohn is a pianist of fine taste, who has a large eclectic love of music apart from any consideration of its mere difficulty. He is one of the few who prefers to interpret an author rather than himself. The mere experts in technical difficulties underrate the choral fantasie because it requires something more than they can bring to its just interpretation; something more, in fact, than the high-pressure school of the day either cultivates or commands. We are thankful to Mr. Wolfssohn that he has restored a charming work to its proper place, and hope that the fantasie has not been heard for the last time this season. Mr. Wolfssohn’s other solo was Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor (opus 49), the slow movement and sostenuto passages of which he played superbly.
In Beethoven’s piece the chorus was sung rather indifferently by the Liederkranz Society, the members of which also gave a Volkslied with effect. The latter was encored, and a better known and better sung piece was rendered in its place.
Mlle. Parepa was the vocal ‘star,’ and her warmest and most enthusiastic admirers must have been gratified with her success—gratified because her audience was a critical one, and the cantatrice’s efforts were worthy of all praise. The scena and aria, ‘Ah! Perfido,’ by Beethoven, has never been given better in this country. The largeness of the style, the certainty or the method and the grandeur of the voice were all demonstrated by Mlle. Parepa in this admirable morceau. Susanna’s aria, ‘If guiltless blood be your intent,’ was also rendered with superb breadth of color and fullness of effect. Mlle. Parepa has never been heard to such advantage as at this concert. It is evidently unnecessary to confine her to trashy ballads and silly little show pieces.”
Bargiel’s symphony did not impress. The first part seems rather dry, the second movement lacks originality in the melody and the form is not concise enough. We liked the minuet best; the trio is especially charming. This works indicates that the composer seems to “be more at home with an orchestra”.[Comment: based on information out of other reviews this piece was played with only a few instruments at this event]
Mrs. Parepa made an excellent impression with her masterly performance of Beethoven and Händel. Beethoven was only 26 when he wrote “Ah perfido!” and Mozart’s influence is recognizable in this piece. However, Beethoven also integrates his own style especially in the recitative, the andante and the allegro. Unfortunately for singers, this work is in part challenging for the voice. However, Parepa is skilled enough to master it with bravura. She gave the best vocal performance we have heard in a long time.
We are grateful to Mr. Wolfsohn that he played Beethoven’s fantasy. This piece has been neglected in performances, although it is one of the most presentable piano works in the entire field of classical piano music. [article continues with an evaluation of Beethoven’s work in regard to the feelings he expresses in the performed piece as well as other of his works] (…)Mr. Wolfsohn played with a deep understanding and emotion. The orchestra and chorus performed equally well and thus this work lingered on in the hearts of the audience. The Chopin Fantasy was also played by Mr. Wolfsohn – with technical skill and dramatic expression.
The solo performances of the Liederkranz members were excellent as well. All in all this concert was a high point that will be remembered for a long time.
“Bargiel’s Symphony is, in many respects, a meritorious work, especially when we remember that it is his first in this difficult form. The composer, however, does not often step forward in his own individuality; his invention of themes is not always the happiest, and in the working out his motives he is sometimes tiresome. Yet there are points in the work that command us to respect the talented young composer, such as the Minuet with its fine Trio, and much in the first movement. The Andante is only soiled by its too uniform and long spun out close, but the last movement is the weakest of all. However, Bargiel has here opened a path to his future instrumental compositions. We cannot remember to have heard Madame Parepa sing more finely than in this concert; the rest of a few days seemed to have removed the traces of fatigue, so apparent in her voice when singing the preceding weeks at the Academy of Music. In Beethoven’s great aria, she displayed her uncommon compass and power to the highest advantage, in spite of the great demand this fatiguing (for ordinary singers work makes upon the vocal organ. These qualities and her fine steady tone, were also fully appreciated in Handel’s dramatic air from ‘Susanna.’ When Madame Parepa sings genuine music, she gives us the thoughts of the great masters presented in a large cartoon, as it were; then we find breadth of conception, continuity of power, great bravura; the lady only needs a finer finish in detail, and the breath of poetic passion, which is not, alas! to be acquired to be a really great singer in the highest sense of the word. Mr. Wolfsohn again proved himself the talented and progressive artist; he added much to the enjoyment of the evening, especially in the pianoforte part of Beethoven’s lovely and interesting Fantastic. The concert was altogether one of the finest that we have had her for a long time, and we hope it will not be the last, of so entirely satisfactory a nature, which we may enjoy in the course of Mr. Thomas’s soirees.”