Price: $1.50, reserved and unreserved
16 January 2018
“To Steinway Hall for one of Theo. Thomas’ concerts. There was a ‘suite’ by one Grimme for strings alone, not brilliant but clear, honest, and quite free from clap-trap. Chorus from Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens--very grand. Something about Faust by Liszt--rubbish that gave one a sensation like that produced by eating sour apples or choke-pears. The second part of the concert was the noble Eroica Symphony, which we enjoyed most keenly. Except the C minor, it’s the greatest symphony extant.”
“The fourth symphony soirée attracted a large audience to Steinway Hall last evening, despite the inclemency of the weather. The programme was, we might say, an audacious one, comprising the latest extravagances of the modern school with the familiar movements of Beethoven. Grimm’s suite in canon form, in four movements, for strings, alone, was charmingly played, as was also the remarkable and strikingly original Mephisto Waltz, by Liszt. We must defer to some future time anything like an analysis of works so entirely different from the beaten path of composers, as want of space constrains us. The Mendelssohn Union sang the march and accompanying chorus from the Ruins of Athens, under the direction of William Berge. The immortal Heroic Symphony closed the soirée. We have heard this work a dozen times in Europe, and never before with more of the true Beethoven spirit than by this admirable orchestra last evening.”
“The fourth of Theodore Thomas’s symphony soirées attracted a very large and appreciative audience to Steinway Hall on Saturday evening. The success of these admirable musical entertainments is an assuring evidence of the growth of a thorough musical cultivation among our people, and, as well, that the conscientious and able rendering of the grandest orchestral and choral music meets with a worthy reward. Mr. Thomas was especially successful at this last soirée, in the production of the exceedingly difficult ‘Suite in Canon Form’ (op. 10), of Grimm’s a composition of a rigidly scientific and intellectual cast, and demanding the most careful execution.”
“Symphony Soiree.—The musical event of last week was Theodore Thomas’ ‘Symphony Soirée’ on Saturday evening, when, despite the inclement and still more threatening night, Steinway Hall was well filled. Happily, the subscription list of these concerts is ample enough to afford a margin for the bad weather which has so long and persistently pursued Mr. Thomas in his persevering efforts. Beside that, musical people are learning to make the effort to go where they are well assured of complete satisfaction, and these entertainments are so admirably made up, so well balanced and so thoroughly artistic in programme and performance, that they are deservedly great favorites. The number of Saturday Evening Concerts were only four, but quite enough. The first was a new production here, but we believe even in its native Germany it is not yet known. It was a ‘suite in canon form,’ by J. O. Grimm. Being composed for stringed instruments alone, and in the undulating perpetual fugue of the canon, its effect was most peculiar. The first movement—‘Allegro con brio’—was given gracefully and spiritedly. In the second—‘Andante lento’—Mr. Thomas descended from his conductor’s stand, took his violin, and with a select few of the orchestra rendered that exquisite morceau in a style recalling his quartet playing with Mason, Matzka and Bergner. The other movements, ‘Tempo di Menuetto,’ and ‘Allegro resolute,’ carried on the feeling and idea of the whole ‘suite,’ the theme ever gently recurring and irresistibly calling to mind the sweet monotone of sea waves on a broken beach—now weird and strong, now soft and low—but always with the same returning song. It was a decided success, held the audience to almost painful stillness, and called forth strong and hearty plaudits. We hope to make better acquaintance with this welcome stranger. Next in order came the March and Chorus from the music written by Beethoven to Kotzebue’s ‘Ruins of Athens.’ This was given by the orchestra, and the choral part by the Mendelssohn Union, under direction of Mr. Berge, of that society, and given with much spirit.
The first part of the programme was concluded by another new production: Second Episode, from ‘Faust,’ (as dramatized by the German poet, Lenau,) ‘Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke,’ (Mephisto Waltz,) by Liszt. This composition contained the writer’s usual brilliant contrasts of instrumentation with wild and startling effects of melody, harmony, rhythm and everything else that one begins to think he can lean on, and suddenly finds himself mistaken. It was certainly demoniac enough for the most [?igeant] imagination, and splendid enough to cause the poor Abbé pangs of mortification in his monastery for so robing the fiend in the habiliaments [sic] of an Angel of Light. After a brief interval of rest, the orchestra rounded the evening’s performance with Beethoven’s third symphony, the ‘Eroica,’ of which nothing need be said save that it left nothing to be desired. Mr. Thomas deserves the thanks of all who love such music for the admirable innovation of placing the symphony last, instead of first, upon his programme. The symphony generally represents the ripest and richest thought, and as it is best it should come last, so, that one may take it home and enjoy it undisturbed.”
The program was interesting and was again evidence of the director’s effort to introduce the newest and best music to the audience. Grimm’s suite for strings was very well performed and received; especially the melodious ‘andante lento’ in which the duet of the first violin and viola was played in masterly fashion by Thomas and Matzka. The composition of Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz” is of much higher quality than his “Nächtliche Zug”. The interesting instrumentation of the waltz keeps the listener captivated throughout; its performance by the orchestra and the conductor was excellent. The chorus’s performance of Beethoven’s march from Ruinen von Athen left hardly anything to wish for, except for a little bit more liveliness and energy. The finale was the “Eroica Symphony”; a work that creates a sense of admiration for the composer whenever it is performed. It was played with precision, fire and verve.
"Mr. Thomas's Symphony Soiree on Saturday was successful. Grimm's fine Suite in canon form, a work new to concert-goers, led the programme. It is entirely for stringed instruments, and is adroitly and exquisitely worked in all its parts--its best passage being an Andante in which occurs a very complex and charming fugue. The march and chorus of Beethoven's 'Ruins of Athens,' was strongly, though we cannot say grandly rehearsed by the Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Chorus. Finally, we most heartily compliment the orchestra for the real care with which Beethoven's Heroic Sympathy [sic] was brought from the awful beauty of the funeral march to the grand resumption of the heroic sentiment in the final Allegro. May we hear it again so impressively discoursed."
Grimm’s suite is a highly respectable work. (A musical analysis and interpretation follows) (…)
Liszt’s Mephisto waltz is completely different (from Grimm’s work). It is filled with life, fire and verve. (A musical analysis and interpretation follows)
The march and chorus (of the next work) was well performed by the orchestra and chorus.
Beethoven’s “Eroica” was a suitable finale. With the exception of the first movement, which was too fast, the orchestral performance was very good.