Chamber (includes Solo)
14 December 2015
“Mr. Oscar Pfeiffer’s second concert, given last evening at Steinway’s, was a successful appeal to public favor. In nothing of his that we have heard does he represent himself more characteristically, both as player and composer, than in his delicate embellishment of a theme so fancifully poetic as the Cante de Fées, or Fairy Tales. The piece is good token of his taste and skill as a musician, were there nothing beside to give warrant that he is an able virtuoso. But the fantasia on themes from Lucrezia, and Liszt’s illustrations of Meyerbeer’s Prophet, enabled Mr. Pfeiffer to explain some additional resources of his education and style as a player. The Lucrezia themes, without being in the least problematic, were clearly and strongly worked; the Liszt music, which is the reverse of simplicity, was quite as good a performance in another way. Among the many good players that came before us Mr. Pfeiffer would take individual and conspicuous rank, and chiefly for his manipulative strength as a player and his intelligent and perspicuous force in bravura passages. His technical talent is evidently very good; his dexterity sufficient, and, added to this, he is creatively a clever musician. Belonging to a class of musicians, who, without the absolute gift of genius, still makes a hearty claim to popularity by the presence of brilliant acquirements, Mr. Pfeiffer, as one of the most genial of his class, deserves special welcome. He was well assisted last evening by Madame Altieri Pfeiffer, whose ‘Casta Diva,’ neither profound in feeling or exquisite in expression, was nevertheless an ornamental surprise. ‘Kathleen Mavourneen,’ albeit we have [heard] it many times, was by no means ungracious or unacceptable; and, altogether, Madame Pfeiffer’s share of the programme was measurably successful, if in no single respect new. Mr. Pollack’s singing of two capital songs by Rubinstein and Abt was excellent; and we have already taken occasion to praise Rudolph Hennig’s able performance of Chas. Schuberth’s Adagio and Mazurka.”
The concert was very well attended. (… the following review is almost literally the same than that of the NNYMZ below, except for Pfeiffer’s hands being called ‘iron hands’. (…) The performers received much applause.
The concert attracted a large audience. The talented Pfeiffer’s style is one of energy, subtleness and elegance and resulted in a brilliant success. He was well supported by his wife, whose voice is more appropriate for a concert hall than a stage, as well as the excellent singer Pollack.
“Mr. Oscar Pfieffer gave his second concert in New York at Steinway Hall, on Tuesday evening. The newest piece in the programme was the Septuor (in allegro and scherzo time) by Hunnell [sic], for piano, flute, oboe, horn, alto, violoncello, and contrabass. The fluent unstrained—and perhaps unmeaning—but certainly brilliant work was conscientiously played; but Mr. Pfieffer’s share of the performance did not afford him the opportunities to display his more decided characteristics of dash, vigor, and power in the bravura, which he found in his own ‘Etude de concert,’ a florid study—and the fantasia on themes from ‘Lucretia Borgia.’ As a forcible player, always clear and never tame even in his path through quiet passages, Mr. Pfieffer makes his impression, the spirit in which he performs, however, is always his own, and there is a certain amount of irksomeness apparent whenever he assumes to illustrate the feeling of any other composer. There is, nevertheless, a sort of prestidigitorial skill in his rapid movements which makes its own way. He possesses, certainly, iron fingers, a powerful wrist, and callous extremities. Mr. Pfeiffer was assisted in quite a lengthy programme by Signora Giudetta Altieri, who treated the audience to some ornamental performances on ‘Casta Diva,’ ‘Kathleen Mauvourneen,’ and an arrangement of Godfrey’s ‘Guard’s Waltz.’ Mr. Ignatz Pollack rendered with funereal effect Abt’s love song, ‘I bless thee night and day, love,’ and another sentimental aria, in tones so awful that no young lady would have doubted for an instant that he meant every word he said. Mr. Henning was heard on the violoncello.”
Pfeiffer understood to do the character of the sextet composition complete justice and, at the same time to emphazise his playing without slipping into virtuoso “tricks”. In the Lucrezia fantasy he was able to show the full spectrum of his skill eventually. As Wehli is called ‘the pianist with two right hands’, Pfeiffer could be called ‘the pianist with the eager fingers’ based on his energetic style. Yet, despite his strong touch of the keys, he knows how to play the finer nuances just as well. This was shown in one of his own compositions, “Chants de Fees”, a charming, melodious salon piece. Signora Altieri was in very good disposition and pleased with all her pieces, especially the Casta Diva.