30 January 2013
“Irving Hall.—The concert here to-night is for the benefit of the attachés of the establishment—efficient and polite as we all know, and worthy of encouragement in every possible way. The programme is unusually interesting, and will be illustrated by the best artists. A new organ has been erected, and will be opened by Messrs. Morgan and Warren. The soloists, in addition to the gentlemen we have named, are Mrs. Marie Abbott, Miss Emilie Knauss, (pupil of Mr. William Mason,) Mr. L. P. Thatcher, Mr. L. B. Mills, Mr. Theodore Thomas and Mr. F. Eben.”
“Another interesting concert took place at this same establishment [Irving Hall] on Saturday evening. It was for the benefit of the attachés of the Hall—a worthy and obliging set of officials, who perform their duties unobtrusively and well. The attendance was not very good, but the sale of tickets was, we are glad to hear, satisfactory. There was quite a buzz of expectation about this concert. Of late there has been much talk about organs, arising probably from the fact that Messrs. Steinway & Sons intend placing [sic] a superb organ in their new concert hall. The Boston fever, at all events, has reached New-York, and it attacked Irving Hall with great severity. It broke out in the mild and pleasing form of a cabinet organ; next it assumed an aggravated character in the shape of a reed organ, with a thirty-two foot reed which wagged leisurely; finally it broke out irrepressibly on Saturday evening, when a fine pipe organ from the manufactory of Messrs. Odell was ‘opened’ for the first time. The instrument is not large, but it possesses sufficient power to fill the hall, and the mechanical combinations are contrived with such ingenuity, that the full resources of the registers are readily commanded. It is in this latter respect that this organ particularly excels; the voicing did not strike us as being either brilliant or clear. An allowance, however, must be made for the haste in which it has been put up. Mr. S. P. Warren opened the programme with Bach’s fine fugue in A minor, which he played superbly, exhibiting great clearness of execution both on the manuals and pedals. Later in the evening Mr. Warren played Thiele’s Theme and variations, a spirited, effective and popular piece, which was also finely rendered—although some of the mixtures were not happy. Mr. G. W. Morgan, who is justly regarded as the best organist in the country, next illustrated the capacities of the instrument. Mendelssohn’s overture to the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was played faultlessly and with a vivid and truthful reproduction of the orchestral effects contemplated by the composer. This piece was received with a storm of applause, and notwithstanding its length, was re-demanded. Mr. Morgan played instead an arrangement of ‘America, ’tis of Thee,’ with variations—a very showy and telling piece, displaying alike the immense execution of the player and the ability of the instrument to speak as quick as may be required. The ‘Overture to William Tell’ also exhibited these admirable traits. Mr. Morgan’s sense of color is thoroughly exquisite, and his technical skill in the rapid manipulation of stops quite surprising. The opening of the organ was, it will be perceived, a complete success. The vocal part of the concert was interpreted by Mrs. Marie Abbott, who sang the cavatina ‘Ernani, involami,’ acceptably. We preferred the lady, however, in the encore piece ‘Consider the Lilies,’ accompanied by Mr. Abbott on the organ, which she sang with earnestness of feeling and accuracy of expression. Her fine, full voice is heard to the best advantage in such music. Mr. L. P. Thatcher, a gentleman who possesses a good tenor voice, created a favorable impression in the German song, ‘Wie schoen bist du,’ and the pastorale from ‘Le Prophète.’ Mr. S. B. Mills played two Etudes, one by Chopin, the other by himself, both faultlessly. This admirable artist also assisted Miss Emily Knauss in Thalberg’s ‘Norma’ Duo. The lady made her first appearance, and was too nervous to do justice to herself. The polonaise by Chopin in A flat major suffered seriously from this unfortunate cause. Why do young artists invariably overtax themselves on the import but trying occasions of their debuts. The duo exhibited Miss Knauss to the best advantage. The lady has undoubted ability, and will, we hope, do better next time. Mr. Theodore Thomas played a solo on the violin with his usual skill and delicacy. The concert it will be seen was made up of good material.
The annual concert, for the benefit of the attachées of Irving Hall, took place on Saturday evening, under the most insuspicious [sic] circumstances.
The following artists volunteered their services on the occasion: Mrs. Marie Abbott, Miss Emilie Knauss, Mr. Thatcher, Mr. S. B. Mills, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Warren, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Eben, and Mr. Dressler, Conductor. The new organ, erected by the Messrs. Odell, was a prominent attraction in the programme.
Mrs. Abbott has a beautiful voice and sings gracefully and expressively music of a simple and quiet character. In sacred music she is especially excellent, but in operatic arias she is by no means so successful, being deficient in Italian manner and style and also in the required bravura. It is folly in singers to slight that which they do well, for the silly ambition of attempting that which is beyond their reach. Her Italian Aria was but indifferently sung, but her songs were charmingly rendered. Mr. S. P. Warren’s first selection for the organ, a Prelude and Fugue by Bach, was smoothly and elegantly played; the subjects were well defined, and both on the manuals and on the pedals he displayed a remarkable neatness and certainty of execution. His second piece was a much less successful effort. The variations were irredeemably bad. His combinations could not have been worse, and the result was a perfect muddle and confusion. He did not seem to have studied out the capacities of the organ, as to the relative power of the stops. In the Finale, however, with full organ, he played most brilliantly, showing perfect mastery over the manuals and pedals.
Mr. L. P. Thatcher, a new aspirant for concert honors, sang two songs very acceptably. He has a good voice, both as to compass and quality, but he does not yet understand the management of it. The registers are not fairly equalised, he is uncertain in the use of the upper tones, either fearing to trust them, or blurting them out without preparation. This gives the impression of a broken, immature style, and tells against his many really excellent points, for he evidently possesses feeling, expression and force. A few months closer study as to the management of his voice will render Mr. Thatcher a valuable addition to our concert strength.
Miss Emilie Knauss, pianist, has been brought out too early. She has mastered the difficulties of execution to a considerable extent, but her touch is heavy and sluggish, and her power is unbalanced, her left hand literally overslaughing [sic] the right hand to utter indistinctness. Allowance must, of course, be made for the nervousness consequent upon a first appearance, but conceding that we would detect no qualities which would warrant a public appearance, the piece chosen Chopin’s Polonnaise, betrayed more clearly the inadequacy of the performer. Neither in lightness, brilliance or force, nor in sentiment or color, did it receive justice. We do not expect perfection in a debutante, but we do expect a revelation of some of the cardinal points of piano-forte playing. On this occasion we only found a certain facility of manipulation, which was, however, displayed to better advantage in Thalberg’s duet with Mr. Mills. It is difficult to prognosticate a future from the first performance; we can only say to Miss Knauss that if she has ambition to excel as a pianist, there is hope in patient and diligent study.
Mr. S. B. Mills played two studies by Chopin and Mills, in his usual perfect manner, and gained a unanimous encore when he played his second tarantella with faultless accuracy and brilliant effect. He played upon a very fine grand piano of Steinway & Sons, which was remarkable for the sonority of its bass. Mr. Theodore Thomas and Mr. Eben added to the interest by their excellent solo performances.
Mr. G. W. Morgan displayed the resources of the Odell Organ to the best possible advantage. His performance of Mendelssohn’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ overture was far below his usual standard of excellence. We were not satisfied, either, with the accuracy of the execution, or the compositions used; but in his variations in ‘God Save the Queen,’ his playing was magnificent. The beauty, variety, and ingenuity of his combinations, the brilliance and accuracy of his execution, with hands and feet, left nothing to be desired. His performance of the ‘William Tell’ overture was equally admirable, and it is needless to add that he was applauded to the very echo.”
“Miss Emilie Knauss made her debut at Irving Hall on Saturday evening, 7th inst., at a grand concert given for the benefit of the attaches of Irving Hall. The lady, who is a pupil of Messrs. Mason and Thomas, the celebrated artistes so well known to all concert goers, is said to have achieved a decided triumph. She selected for the occasion a Polonaise composed by Chopin, which is considered one of the most difficult compositions by experienced professionals, and a grand duo for two pianos with Mr. S. B. Mills. In both of these very complicated and exquisite productions she evinced great talent and immense power of conception barely met with in debutante pianists, and gives evidence of the most careful and untiring study. Brilliant success is anticipated for her wherever she may appear. The whole performance was a decided musical treat.”