6 January 2016
“The third concert of the Philharmonic Society took place at Steinway Hall last evening. The audience was not as large as the celebrated concerts which take place every Sunday evening at the same hall, but quite as fashionable. [Gives program.] Both soloists acquitted themselves creditably, and the orchestra, under the able direction of Carl Bergmann, who deservedly ranks the very first of conductors in New York, was admirable, as usual. The Society, since Mr. George Bristow became its President, has acquired new life, and in the next season it will eclipse all its former efforts, both in the selection and rendering of great works. We understand that the Herselt [sic] piano concerto will be played at the next concert.”
“The Philharmonic Society gave its third concert of the season on Saturday evening, at Steinway Hall. The audience was large, and of the high class that these concerts always succeed in drawing together. The programme contained five selections: A concerto for the piano (Op. 59 in G) by Beethoven, an overture by Mendelssohn, the overture ‘Les deux Journées,’ by Cherubini, the fifth concerto for the violin by Vieuxtemps, and a symphony in D minor by Volkmann. All of the above pieces have been played here before, with the exception of the symphony, and it will be sufficient to say of them that they were all performed with skill and effect, and were very successful.
The new symphony has four movements, an allegro pathetic, an andante, a scherzo, and a finali allegro motto [sic]. It is a work which can scarcely judge critically from a single hearing, abounding, as it does, in beautiful though reticent passages, the full delicacy and power of which can only be appreciated when the ear has become more familiar with it from several repetitions. This is especially true of the andante movement, which is certainly one of the most charming pieces of instrumentation it has been our good fortune to hear in a long time. The masterly skill and grace with which the tender, touching minor air is first taken up by the horn as a solo, then repeated with a soft running accompaniment from the violins, and finally passed over to the violins, the whole orchestra taking up the accompaniment, with the very effective movement at the close are worthy of praise, and render this part, we think, the finest in the symphony. The scherzo did not strike us forcibly, but the finale was excellent, closing with the full strength of the orchestra in a few bars of great power and beauty.
Judging from its reception on Saturday evening this symphony has the elements of popularity with the frequenters of the Philharmonic concerts, and we shall be much mistaken if it is not often repeated. The bowing of the violins, to speak of the mechanical execution, was particularly good. The eye is so often offended and the pleasure of a concert greatly marred at the sight of a dozen violinists, each raising his bow in a perfect independent manner, entirely regardless of his neighbor’s movements, that it was a great relief to see the bows, especially of the first violins, ascending and descending in perfect regularity and in time with each other. Some other orchestral violinists that we could mention would do well to reform in this matter.
Mr. William Mason and Mr. Wenzel Kopta were the soloists, the former playing the solo parts in Beethoven’s concerto, and the latter performing with great ability the violin solos in the concerto by Vieuxtemps. Both of these excellent artists won the cordial approval of the audience. Altogether this was the best concert given this winter, and the frequent applause of the large audience testified that it was appreciated.”
“The Philharmonic Society gave their third concert of this season at Steinway Hall, Saturday evening. The programme was a dull one, and the performance sleepy. The only stirring episode was Wenzel Kopta’s bit of fantastical play on the violin. Something more phenomenal, Messrs. Philharmonicans, and then the attendance will be better.”
“For the Philharmonic Concert on Saturday evening, Beethoven’s brilliant Concerto for the Piano (op. 58) was not announced, and so its admirable performance by William Mason, assisted by a strong orchestra, was an unexpected pleasure. The orchestral depth and airiness, and great piano brilliancy of this work, especially in its delightful andante, made the task of its expression a delicate, difficult, but evidently very agreeable one. Volkmann’s symphony in D minor, a new work, was faithfully given, and though presenting new points of comparison to the higher standards of concert writing offered in the programme, is, nevertheless, a work commendable to musicians for its use of the orchestra. Mendelssohn’s ‘Fingal’s Cave,’ also given on Saturday, is, of course, interesting in a far more universal sense; it is a breezy overture, recalling grottoes and seas, and suggesting
‘Magic casements opening on the foam
Of perilous seas in fairy lands forlorn;’
A true tone-poem, instinct with the delicate sense and ethereally one of the poets of music. By the performance of Vieuxtemps’s very elaborate Fifth concerto, the new violinist, Mr. Wenzel Kopta, has obtained a cordial welcome, and will be heard with interest whenever he appears. Without startling his audience, Mr. Kopta never fails to impress us as a violinist of excellent culture and good nerve, with a keen taste for difficulties. For many reasons, Cherubini’s masterly overture to the ‘Deux Journées’ was the most instructive feature of Saturday’s programme. The author of this grand and exquisite work well deserved the admiration of his contemporary, Beethoven; and lovers of music would be benefitted by frequently hearing him. The instrumental depth and sweep of the overture, the perfect power of its bass, and the full unity of the work rank it with the very best of orchestral compositions. Of the performance, little remains to be said. We can make no distinguishing mention of any part of it, when all was so evenly, faithfully, and intelligently given.”
“Although the venue was almost filled, it is our impression that the audience is not participating this season as it was last. The opening symphony by Volkmann was, though well performed, not of our taste. The most pleasant part is the 3rd movement. However, we do appreciate the effort of introducing works of newer composers to the audience. No need to mention that the orchestra performed perfectly under the direction of Bergmann. Mason played the piano with correctness and conscientiousness.”
“The third Philharmonic concert was given by the Society at Steinway Hall on Saturday evening. The attendance was somewhat smaller than usual, owing perhaps to the out-door attractions of sleighing and skating. The programme was entirely interesting. It contained five pieces, and strangely enough two of them were concertos. This rather large allowance of virtuosity was mitigated by the fact that both Mr. William Mason and Mr. Wenzel Kopta played extremely well. Beethoven's Concerto in G is a great and beautiful work—filled with inspiration and variety of treatment. Mr. Wm. Mason played it very finely; the beauty of his touch lending particular charm and brilliancy to many scale passages. An effective cadenza was introduced in the first movement, written by the pianist. It possesses the merits of retaining preceding ideas and of being short. Mr. Kopta played Vieuxtemp's fifth violin concerto, opus 37, an exceedingly difficult and fragmentary work. It is calculated to show off the technical skill of the performer, and this it certainly did. Mr. Kopta's execution is very brilliant and clean. His intonation is perfect, and his tone, although not powerful, is pure and musicianlike. The instrumental features were a new symphony by Volkmann; the overture to ‘Fingal’s Cave,’ by Mendelssohn, and the overture ‘Les Deux Journées,’ by Cherubini. The symphony is by a new composer, who has been greatly extolled and greatly blamed by his contemporaries, and with perfect justice on both sides. There are things in the symphony which excite admiration, and things in it which are simply ridiculous. Volkmann's orchestral figures are usually good, and he imitates and repeats them with considerable skill. Where he can secure an ensemble he is effective, but his use of separate instruments is awkward. This is particularly so with the wood instruments, whose shrill tones are constantly rending the harmonic tissue, and causing a belief that three or four players are in a state of inebriety. The finale to the symphony is vigorously scored. Under ordinary circumstances it must always make a success. But it is impossible to believe that this music can ever become classic. Mr. Volkmann has written a clever work, and adapted himself to the required form. Untrammeled by the schools he will, we doubt not, do better things. Of the overtures it is unnecessary to speak. They were rendered faultlessly, as also was the symphony which, by the way, is remarkably difficult. Mr. Carl Bergmann presided in the orchestra.”
“The third Philharmonic concert offered a weak program. The opening of Volkmann’s D minor symphony was very disappointing. The composition lacked creativity and seemed dry. It is reminiscent of other composers in the sections that seem more pleasing. However, the structure of the composition is good and reveals the skillful composer. Yet, what meaning does a shell have if the content does not move us.
Kopta played with bravura and unmistakable talent.”
“The third Philharmonic Concert was given at Steinway Hall, Jan. 26th. Beethoven’s concert in G was finely rendered, with Mr. William Mason at the piano. This gentleman not only possesses true artistic feeling, but he knows how to express it, and thus enables the audience to share it. There is no player who more completely controls the sympathies of his listeners that Mr. Mason, and, to our taste, there is no one who gives a more satisfying interpretation to Beethoven’s music. The orchestral features at this concert were the overture to ‘Fingal’s Cave’ by Mendelssohn, the overture ‘Les deux Journees,’ by Cherubini, and a new symphony by Volkman. The next concert is to be given March 9th, when the overture to the ‘Magic Flute,’ Liszt’s Poeme Symphonique, ‘Tasso,’ and Beethoven’s Second Symphony will be performed.”