Manager / Director:
Lafayette F. Harrison
Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]
6 December 2017
At conclusion of review for second concert in this series. "The third concert, at which Mr. Thomas' orchestra will again [illeg.], will take place on Sunday next. Mr. Colby acts as pianist."
Brief. "Sunday Concerts.--On Sunday evening grand sacred concerts will be given at Irving Hall and the Olympic Theatre."
"Irving Hall Sacred Orchestral Concerts.
The programme for the concert at Irving Hall this evening is far ahead of anything ever attempted before in these concerts. [Lists program and performers.] Such concerts and such artists cannot fail to command the attendance of the music-loving public."
“The introduction of Theodore Thomas’ orchestra into the Sunday concerts at Irving Hall is a sufficient guarantee of their success. We have not such another collection of artists in this country. Each of them excels in his own department, and from the thirty members of the orchestra, a director can select a soloist of the highest order at random. Mr. Letsch played a trombone solo last evening, ‘The Tear,’ by Stigelli, such as we would hardly expect from Jullien in the palmiest days of his dynasty. Mr. Heind’l, flutist, played a fantasia far superior to anything that has been heard before in New York. The selection he made was miserable (Somnambula and others), but his execution and tone were those of a first class artist. The concert opened with Beethoven’s symphony in C, No. 1. When the immortal composer was engaged at this gem he had not yet rid himself of the schools nor struck out a new path by the force of his genius. Mozart strongly predominates in the first and last parts, Adagio molto, Allegro con brio and Allegro molto e vivace. In the second part—Andante con moto—Beethoven alone is heard. In such a movement he is unapproachable. There is a mine of tenderness and passionate feeling in those ever varying strains which thrills the heart. Every instrument in the orchestra has something to say beyond mere chords, and the questions and responses are interwoven with delicious harmony. Ever and anon a new idea comes surging up on the violin, viola, ’cello, flute, horn or even trombone, and, without degenerating into mere programme music, the subject is photographed and colored, without the slightest possibility of mistaking it. There must be some mistake in calling the third movement a minuet. It is a bona fide scherzo, and probably one of the first which the master of the scherzando composed. There is something so light and graceful about it, something so ethereal that one cannot class it with the formal, staid minuet. The Turkish March, the second piece played by the orchestra, is wild and barbaric, and brings back to the recollection the days of Hegira, the fall of Stamboul, and the Augustan age of Haroun and Raschid. Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor overture is a remarkable work. The jolly countenance of Sir John and the merry faces of his merciless tormenters appear in every bar of it. The fantasy on the Tannhauser was splendidly played by the orchestra. If that is a true sample of the music of the future, then let us anticipate futurity and make the Tannhauser a model for the present generation to copy after. The vocalists were Madame Bertha Johannsen and Mr. Arthur Matthison. The former is one of the most finished and cultivated artists we have at present. Her voice, it is true, is somewhat lacking in freshness and brilliancy, but her style of singing is such as all lovers of music delight in. Perfect ease, correctness, true appreciation of the ideas of the composer and sympathetic fullness mark every note she sings. Such a finished vocalist in opera and concert is a rarity before the American public, and should be heard more frequently. We understand she will appear during the season in many of these concerts. There is something, after all, in the style in which a vocalist sings a piece that is independent of the voice. Unfortunately some of our native artists forget this. If they possess good voices they think that they require nothing else. It is a great mistake. If we contrast Madame Johannsen with Madame Frederici, it will be easy to observe the necessity of good, careful training, even with a telling voice. The latter lady has a really splendid voice, but for style she is completely deficient. Madame Johannsen, without an equal voice, is a far better singer in every sense of the word. As for Mr. Arthur Matthison, he must take more lessons in singing before he comes before the public. He has a fine tenor voice, or rather a voice that can be made something of; but he must consider that merely vocalizing the notes of a song does not constitute an artist. The concert was crowded to excess last evening and, with a fashionable and appreciative audience at that. Mr. Harrison’s Sunday concerts have commenced well, and if they are kept up to the same standard they will be the leading feature of the present brilliant musical season.”
The Sunday concerts at Irving Hall and the Olympic Theatre have been very popular and promise to become truly excellent. At Irving Hall the singers alternate. Last Sunday the recently arrived tenor H. Mattheson [sic] and the fine artist Mrs. Johannsen performed. Supposedly the latter has accepted a position as vocal instructor at Anschütz’ Conservatory. The tenor Mattheson [sic] was not successful. His voice is not bad, but he has not learned anything.
"The concert by Theodore Thomas on Sunday evening at Irving Hall was one of the most brilliant. The artists surpassed themselves and the performances were irreproachable. One noticed particularly the finale of Mozart's Symphony in D, which was rendered with rare perfection. A chorus from Lohengrin, the overture from William Tell, and the allegretto of Beethoven's 8th symphony were warmly applauded. M. Pollack demonstrated an excellent baritone voice. Mme Johannsen sang a duet from The Magic Flute with him that was very successful. Finally, the evening ended with a brilliant fantasy on motifs from Robert le Diable. The audience was numerous, and they left delighted with the concert."
Mostly about the second concert in this series.
“The season has opened with Sunday evening concerts…
The ‘sacred’ things of the third concert were [lists program]…The musical journals eulogize the orchestral and indeed most of the performances (we suppose a newspaper critic would say ‘renditions’).”