Price: $1; $1.50 reserved
Chamber (includes Solo), Orchestral
18 January 2018
“Wolfsohn, having given the last of the Beethoven matinees, is free to indulge the request of so many of his admirers for a Classical Soirée on the largest scale. Such a concert will be given by him on the 6th of April in the large hall of Steinway’s and will have for the body of its executants the Liedkrans [sic] Society and the orchestra of Theodore Thomas.”
“Meanwhile, we shall welcome the grand Concert which we hear Mr. Wolfsohn is to give, assisted by the best musicians of the city.”
“Steinway Hall was filled last evening on the occasion of Carl Wolfsohn’s grand concert. He was assisted by the Liederkranz Society, Mme. Frederici, Habelmann, tenor, Kopta, violinist, and a large and efficient orchestra. The Liederkranz Society added new laurels to their already plethoric wreath in the rendering of Abt’s beautiful chorus, ‘The Water Lily,’ and in Beethoven’s fantasia for piano, chorus and orchestra. The latter work is a miniature Ninth Symphony and extremely difficult. Mr. Wolfsohn fully sustained the high reputation he has won this season in New York, and the other artists assisted him in making the concert one of the best of the season.”
“Mr. Carl Wolfsohn has satisfied the good taste which has summoned him at last to the front of ‘a grand concert.’ The promise of this concert was considerable, and it was brilliantly fulfilled on Saturday night at Steinway’s. The programme was an exquisite selection, quite up to that standard of musical scholarship made evident in all Mr. Wolfsohn’s pianism. Players and singers more congenial than its four principal executants seldom come together, and when they do we have a true German service of the good things of art. Beside these, were the two comfortable bodies of chorus and orchestra—one of the Liederkranz, and the other under the baton of Theodore Thomas—forming a grand background to Mr. Wolfsohn’s lustrous performance of the piano passage in the Choral Fantasia of Beethoven. This is one of the most familiar works of the master; but when will pianists cease to love its preluding poem—orchestras to thrill with its varied theme, such grateful work for flutes, oboes, and the rest—and when will choruses cease to sing the solid and hearty simplicity of it song? It was well rendered altogether—essentially a more important doing than many an opera. Chopin’s Polonaise in F minor received equal justice from Mr. Wolfsohn. The work is rich with the eccentric spirit of Chopin’s native land—a spirit weird and wild and only semi Russian. We perceive that it has grown out of the same element as those elfin children of Chopin’s, his Polish songs. These are [?] with an elfish brightness, and pathetic with [?] of the ideal fairies; and so, when we listen to the wild tapestry and abandon of the Polonaise, the nature and genius of a nation is recalled to us. We were pleased to hear our long-absent tenor, Theodore Habelmann—glad too, that he sung Mr. Wolfsohn’s [brace?] of songs. The first is a plaint with a contemplative strain—‘I wept while I was dreaming’—thoughtfully phrased, well formed in most aspects, and only wanting the touch that awakes the heart. The second—called ‘The Water Lily’—is more vocal but is by no means deficient in the poetic character; and both are creditable to the culture of Mr. Wolfsohn. Habelmann gave them better voice than enunciation, but it was nevertheless good to hear this very clever tenor. Probably the best passage in ‘Der Freischutz’—the scena and aria of the famous prayer—was sung with broad and generous tone by Madame Frederici. So enthusiastic was this outgiving that we hesitate to find fault with a voice, the feeling of which satisfies us much more than its education and capacity. The Hungarian Variations, capricious, and intricate as Ernst could make them, returned to us a young violinist from whom we cannot hear too much. Mr. Wenzel Kopta’s execution of this trying and versatile passage deserves all praise. In the inevitable encore which followed this masterly performance, Mr. Kopta gave some equally difficult and Ernst-like variations on a theme from Ernani. The freedom of his bowing running to all but looseness, yet keeping surely with the science that bounds the libertines and vagaries of the violin—the complete ingenuity and sweetness illustrated in the player’s manner and tone—were alike to be admired. Each composition was a test of no common sort, and, what with much that Mr. Kopta has lately done to kindle a growing respect for his powers, they proved his claim to recognition as one of the very best violinists now before the public.”
The concert was well attended. The highlight was clearly Beethoven’s fantasy. Only because of the participation of the German Liederkranz was this performance possible. The vocal part and thus the finale of the work was excellently performed by the mixed chorus. Wolfsohn did justice to the piano parts with confidence, a steady technique and artistic sensitivity. He also played the other works with discretion and artistic perfection. The men’s chorus of the Liederkranz sang the “Wasserose” such mastery and with such subtle nuance that the excited audience asked for a da capo. Habelmann, Kopta, and Friderici [sic] excited the audience as well.
The attendance was fairly good; the program interesting. However; the Kreutzer overture was not well-chosen for the opening.
Wolfsohn’s pieces were new for the most part or at least not heard here often. However; the Beethoven fantasy was performed here before, but after a long interval. The last time it was performed 1808 with Beethoven on the piano. It was not successful back then. However; much was expected of the audience then, because other pieces were a fantasy for piano, “Sanctus” and “Benedictus” from the C major mass and the Pastoral – and C minor symphony.
(…) (Musical interpretation of the choral fantasy by the critic) Wolfsohn was received well for all his pieces by the audience. He was also acknowledged for his compositions sung by Habelmann, which possess many beautiful parts. The creativity and imagination in these pieces, and the performance of them, are an honorable reflection of the composer’s artistic viewpoint.
Both Friederici and Kopta were not less successful with the audience. Preyer’s “Thräne” could have been omitted, however. The solo performances of the Liederkranz were the best men’s quartets we have heard in a long time.
“On Saturday evening last, Mr. Carl Wolfsohn gave a grand concert at Steinway Hall, which was attended by a very large audience. The program was as follows…
Mr. Carl Wolfsohn’s selections, as may be seen, were of a varied character. Of these, the least successful was that by Chopin. The fitful vigor, the dreamy longings, the yearning tenderness which characterize the writings of Chopin, require for their interpretation a peculiar temperament which but very few artists possess. Mr. Wolfsohn has become so imbued with the individualities of Beethoven, that they are apparent in all he does, and for that reason his reading of Chopin was hardly satisfactory. It was too heary, and lacked both tenderness and refinement. The ‘Slumber Song,’ of Weber, transcribed by Liszt, however, he played most charmingly. It was well defined, delicately and clearly rendered, and he threw into it much passionate expression. It was a decided success.
The Beethoven Fantasia was also a great success. This he played with infinite spirit and vigor, phrasing decidedly, and giving it a clear and brilliant interpretation. The orchestra played well and effectively, and the chorus was fair but lacked in prompt decision. The piece was listened to with profound attention, and at its close received enthusiastic applause.
We have not heard, for many years, Von Weber’s grand Scena from ‘Der Freischutz’ so dramatically rendered, as by Mme. Marie Frederici on this occasion. Every note was faithful to the score, and she threw into it, in an earnest and passionate manner, all the varied emotions which the several movements indicate so powerfully. The ‘prayer’ was simply and beautifully sung, and the last movement was genuine outburst of joy sustained by hope. Her voice was in fine order, and rang through the Hall clearly and brilliantly. She also sang a German song, ‘The Tear,’ in a sweetly expressive manner, well deserving the cordial applause bestowed upon her efforts.
Theodore Habelmann is a most pleasing and effective concert singer; his style is good, his voice is charming, and he makes his effects without resorting to stage exaggeration. The Aria from ‘Don Giovanni’ was sung with classic purity, and he rendered the two clever songs composed by Mr. Carl Wolfsohn, ‘I wept while I was dreadming,’ and ‘The Water Lily,’ with so much grace and passionate expression as to elicit a unanimous encore.
Mr. Wenzel Kopta exhibited much clear and brilliant execution in Ernst’s ‘Variations Hongroises.’ His tone is pure, but rather weak, and his manipulation is remarkable for lightness and rapidity. His phrasing lacks decision, but counting up his many points of excellence, he is unquiestionably an artist of superior merit. Were he less demonstrative in his sawing and swinging motions, his playing would be much more acceptable, and his style would tone down to a more classical standard. His brilliant execution, however, won him a unanimous encore, when he performed, unaccompanied, a quartette on a subject from ‘Lucia di Lammermoor,’ with much precision and effect.
The singing by the Liederkranz Society was as near perfection as can be obtained by human voices. All the points of excellence which should characterize concerted singing were observable. The voices were perfectly balanced, the intonation was true, the expression just, every leading point was brought into relief, and in artistic coloring, nothing was left to be desired. The torrent of applause which rose at the close of the part Song, testified to the unqualified delight of the public, and resulted, of course, in an irresistible encore. It was one of the finest bits of concerted singing that we have heard for many years, and we cannot refrain from complimenting Mr. A. Pauer upon the brilliant results of his directorship.
The concert was altogether a delightful one, reflecting credit upon the taste and judgment of Mr. Carl Wolfsohn, who we trust reaped a substantial financial reward for his labors.”