Third Philharmonic Society Concert
London: Hanover Square Rooms—Time: Evening, Eight o’Clock
Subscription Concert: 4 Guineas
|Symphony No.41 in C major, Jupiter||Mozart|
|From Il crociato in Egitto:|
Aria, ‘D’una madre disperata’
|Piano Concerto No.6 in B flat major, |
Fantastique (first time of performance)
|Motet, Exaltabo Te |
(first time of performance)
|(composed expressly for the Society)||Horsley|
|Overture, Die schöne Melusine (MS)||Mendelssohn|
|Symphony No.92 in G major, Oxford/Letter Q||Haydn|
|From Mount Sinai:|
Air, ‘Holy and great is thy name’
|Violin Concerto||Mr. Wolff||Spohr|
|From The Creation:|
Duet, ‘By thee with bliss’
Chorus, ‘Forever blessed’
|Mrs. Knyvett, Mr. Bradburry |
|Overture, Belshazzar’s Feast (MS)||Griesbach|
|Principal Vocalists: Miss Masson, Mrs. Knyvett St; Mr. Bradburry|
|Principal Instrumentalists: Messrs. Moscheles, Wolff|
|Leader: Mr. Charles Weichsel; Conductor: Mr. Ignaz Moscheles|
Salary: £21 for two performances.
[GB-Lbl RPS MS 299, f22 v.]
Charlotte: ‘Moscheles played his new Concerto Pathétique at the Philharmonic, and directed on the same occasion Mendelssohn’s still unknown overture to Melusine; both novelties were received coldly’.RMM, 201.
Letter: I. Moscheles to F. Mendelssohn.
London, 12 February 1834
I have read and studied your Overture (“Melusine”) with ever-growing interest; and let me say, in the fewest of words, that it is a splendid work. It is marked by vigorous and spirited conception, unity, and originality. Thus impressed, I proceeded to the first rehearsal, after having gone through it privately with Mori. But it was not an easy matter to moderate the orchestra in the piano parts; especially at the outset they would make a desperate plunge, and the trumpets were somewhat surprised at having to fall in with their 7th on C. I winced and groaned, and made them begin again three times. The contrasting storms went as if Neptune held the sceptre; but when the voices of the Sirens were to disarm that boisterous ruler, I had to call for piano, piano ! piano ! at the top of my voice, bending down to the ground, a la Beethoven, and in vain trying to restrain the ferocious violins and basses. However, at a second reading things went better. The work was studied with the liveliest interest, and received with the fullest appreciation. I hope to bring out the lights and shades still better at the performance. You have given the horns and trumpets, alternately, the
which they rendered splendidly with stopping and damping.
Letter: K. Klingemann to F. Mendelssohn.
London, 22 April 1834
Im letzten Philharmonie-Konzert ist Deine Melusine vom Stapel gelassen,—besser nichts sagen, so sehr mich’s auch jammert, nicht viel, ein Zehntteil von dem Erfolg, den ich sicher erwartete. Es kann Dich wenig rühren, denn sicherlich,—hier spreche ich höchst ernsthaft und aus vollster Überlegung,—das Werk ist viel zu gut, als dass es einem solchen Publikum nur dämmernd einleuchten könnte. Es klingt himmlisch, süss und leidenschaftlich. Der Abschied am Ende bewegt mich entsetzlich. Wir, die kleine stille Gemeinde haben Viel dabei gefühlt. Aber das ganze Konzert war altogether [sic] verflucht lau, obgleich Moscheles kondukterte, und obgleich Ihr und Horsley und Neukomm drin vorkämet. Moscheles’ neues Konzert machte auch keinen grossen Eindruck—es ist auch so gut.—Ich war übrigens durch und durch überzeugt, dass das Tempo der Ouvertüre zu langsam war, und habe mein Bedenken nach der Probe gewissenhaft vorgetragen,—M. schien drauf einzugehen und versprach es in der Aufführung etwas rascher zu nehmen; ich hab’s aber nicht gemerkt, es war und blieb zu langsam, wodurch die frohe Partie sehr verlor. Du weisst, er ist in solchen Punkten etwas wunderlich, besonders glaube ich gegen einen Liebhaber und halben Kunstrichter, so ein guter Kerl er auch sonst ist.
Letter: F. Mendelssohn to I. Moscheles.
Dusseldorf, April 1834
…But now let me say how grateful I am for all the trouble you have taken with my Overture. It is quite a painful feeling to have a piece performed and not to be present, not to know what succeeded and what went wrong; but when you are conducting I really feel less nervous than if I were there myself, for no one can take more interest in his own works than you do in those of others, and then you can hear and take note of a hundred things that the composer, preoccupied as he is, has no time or mind for.
I had already heard from Klingemann what a true friend you had been to my Overture, and now your description puts it all so visibly before me. After reading your letter, I took up the score, and played it straight through from beginning to end, and felt that I liked it better than before.
By the way, you complain of the difficulty in getting the pianos observed; and as I was playing the piece over again, it struck me that that was really my fault. It is easily remedied, for the whole thing, I believe, is due to the marks of expression; if you have those altered in the parts, it will be set right at once. First, everything should be marked one degree weaker; that is, where there is a p in the wind instruments, it should be pp; instead of mƒ, piano; instead of ƒ, mƒ. The pp alone might remain, as I particularly dislike ppp. The sƒ’s, however, should be everywhere struck out, as they really are quite wrong, no abrupt accent being meant, but a gradual swelling of the tone, which is sufficiently indicated by the . The same again wherever the
etc. recurs; in all such passages the sƒ’s should be done away with; and in the strings as well: for instance, at the very opening, and where the trumpets first come in, it should be pp; the ƒ’s should simply disappear. Klingemann would, I am sure, oblige me by making these alterations in the score, a copyist would transfer them to the parts, and then the whole thing would sound twice as mermaidish.
Letter: F. Mendelssohn to C. Moscheles.
Dusseldorf, 11 May 1834.
…I cannot understand your news that Moscheles’s new Concerto met with the same reception. I thought it as clear as sunshine that must please the public, when played by him. But when is it to be published, that I may pounce upon it? [FM.IML, 103]
Philharmonic Society Programme
UNDER THE IMMEDIATE PATRONAGE OF
THIRD CONCERT, MONDAY, APRIL 7, 1834.
|Sinfonia – – (Jupiter) – –||Mozart.|
|Aria, Miss MASSON, “D’una madre disperata”|
|(Il Crociato in Egitto) – – –||Meyerbeer.|
|Concerto Fantastique (M.S.) first time of Performance;|
|Pianoforte, Mr MOSCHELES – –||Moscheles.|
|Motet, “Exaltabo Te,” composed expressly for the|
|Philharmonic Society, and first time of Performance||W. Horsley, Mus. Bac. Oxon.|
|Overture to “Melusine,” or “The Mermaid and The|
|Knight” (M.S.) first time of Performance –||F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy.|
|Sinfonia, Letter – – – –||Haydn.|
|Air, Mrs W. Knyvett, “Holy and great is thy name”|
|(Mount Sinai) – – – –||The Chevalier Neukomm|
|Dramatic Concerto Violin, Mr WOLFF – –||Spohr.|
|Duet, Mrs W. KNYVETT and Mr BRADBURRY, “By|
|thee with bliss,” and Chorus, “For ever blessed”|
|(Creation) – – – –||Haydn.|
|Overture to “Belshazzar’s Feast” (M.S.) – –||J. Henry Griesbach.|
Leader, Mr. WEICHSEL.—Conductor, Mr MOSCHELES.
*** TO COMMENCE AT EIGHT O’CLOCK PRECISELY.
The Subscribers are most earnestly entreated to observe, that the Tickets are not transferable,
and that any violation of this rule will incur a total forfeiture of the subscription.
THE NEXT CONCERT WILL BE ON THE TWENTY-FIRST OF APRIL.
The Standard (April 8, 1834): 2.
PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY.—The third concert for the season took place last night, and presented much novelty as well as variety. Mr. Moscheles brought forward another new concerto for the pianoforte, a fantasia, in which both in originality and power has gone beyond all his former compositions.
The Times (April 8, 1834): 3.
The third concert for the season took place last night, and presented much novelty as well as variety. Mr. Moscheles brought forward another new concerto for the pianoforte, a fantasia, in which both in originality and power he has gone beyond all his former compositions. It is a work written, not in servile subservience to the reigning taste, as is too often the case, but for reputation with the real judges of the art. His execution of it left nothing to be desired, for it made the composition, refined as it was, perfectly clear and intelligible. It was much and warmly applauded, and it is no small compliment to the audience to say that they were able at the first hearing to appreciate so well so masterly a work. A motet, “Exaltabo te,” by Mr. Horsley, followed, composed expressly for this society, and was also a very successful essay. The musical world has long dealt with pleasure on “See the Chariot of Love,” “In Celia’s Arbour,” and other charming glees by this composer, but it has not often had experience of his power of wielding the full orchestra and chorus in the way that it was displayed last night. No man is better acquainted than Mr. Horsley with the old masters. Without servilely copying them, he has adopted much of the grandeur and severity of style which belong to Handel, Bach, and others of the same age, intermixed with the rich and gorgeous effects which are only to be obtained from the modern orchestra. An overture by Mr. Mendelssohn, to Melusine; or the Mermaid and the Knight, in MS., and its first time of performance, had the place of honour in concluding the first act. It is one of the best compositions of this young author, on who, if on any one, the mantle of Beethoven may be said to have fallen, and who is undoubtedly a musical genius of the first order. Many passages in this symphony remind us of the “Pastoral Symphony” and other great works of Beethoven, but it is the imitation of a kindred spirit and not plagiarism. The most striking as well as novel piece in the second act was Spohr’s “Dramatic Concerto,” which was played on the violin by Mr. Wolff, a young performer, a pupil of Mayseder, of most decided talent, and of the highest future promise. His style is very pure, and he possesses the uncommon quality of a strength and brilliance of tone, sustained through the most difficult passages. His performance was perfectly successful, and we understand, which adds very much to the merit of it, that Mr. Wolff had only a few days’ notice to prepare himself for it. The character of the composition is a remarkable one, being that of a cantanta, or bravura, intermixed with recitative and song, giving great scope for expression, in which, among other qualities, Mr. Wolff excels, and it would have afforded in that respect an admirable lesson to many of the “prime donne” of the Italian opera. The selection of this concerto alone deserves great praise, in preference to the wretched trash with which we are constantly presented under that name; the composition is as perfect and as full of interest as that of the best symphonies by this composer. In the vocal department there was little to invite notice. Miss Masson gave an air, “D’una madre disperata,” from Il Crociato in Egitto,which was well sung, as is every thing this lady does, but the selection was not a fortunate one, and was far from displaying her fine contralto voice to its full advantage. There were too many florid passages in it, and too great compass; her forte, as in all voices of that class, lies in expression. A song, from the Mount Sinai of the Chevalier Neukomm, of no very striking merit, was allotted to Mrs. Knyvett, who also, with Miss Masson, Mr. Horncastle, and Mr. Hawkins, and other vocal performers, took part in Mr. Horsley’s motet. The symphonies were Mozart’s “Jupiter,” a title given, we believe, to his 4th, by the elder Cramer, and an early one of Haydn’s, neither of them so well played as they might have been. But we must except from this censure the concluding movement of the “Jupiter,” which, though the most difficult, was the most perfect in the execution. Mozart never conceived anything more grand and daring than this movement. Mr. Moscheles was the conductor, and Mr. Weichsel the leader, on this occasion.
The Morning Post (April 9, 1834): 3.
The third Philharmonic Concert took place on Monday last.
|Aria, Miss Masson, “D’una madre dispe-||MEYERBEER.|
|rata” (Il Crociato in Egitto)……………….|
|Concerto Fantastique (M.S.), first time of per-||MOSCHELES.|
|formance; pianoforte, Mr. Moscheles…….|
|Motet, “Exaltabo Te,” composed expressly||W. HORSLEY, MUS. |
|for the Philharmonic Society, and first time|
|of performance…………………………… z|
|Overture to “Melusine,” or “The Mermaid||F. MENDELSSOHN |
|and the Knight” (M.S.), first time of per-|
|Sinfonia, Letter H……………………………||HAYDN.|
|Aria, Mrs. W. Knyvett, “Holy and great is||The Chevalier |
|thy name” (Mount Sinai)………………..|
|Dramatic Concerto Violin, Mr. Wolff………||SPOHR.|
|Duet, Mrs. W. Knyvett and Mr. Bradbury,||HAYDN.|
|“By these with bliss,” and Chorus, “For|
|ever blessed” (Creation)…………………|
|Overture to “Belshazzar’s Feast” (M.S.)……||J. H. GRIESBACH.|
|Leader, Mr. WEICHSEL.—Conductor, Mr. MOSCHELES.|
MOZART’S sinfonia, characteristically denominated The Jupiter, was executed throughout with admirable precision and correctness; indeed the quadruple subjects in the last movement were taken up by the various instruments with unusual confidence. The coda of HANDEL’S Amen Chorus in The Messiah excepted, there is no example to be found where motivi are brought by contrapuntal [sic] ingenuity to so splendid a climax as at the termination of this allegro. The audience applauded the performance of the sinfonia with enthusiasm.
Miss MASSON acquitted herself becoming an artiste of superior mental capacity; her shakes were often imperfect, and the figurative passages in the quick movements of the aria required more physical power than she possesses; but the beautiful slow sostenuto movement was sung with a just sense of the expression necessary for its effect.
Mr. MOSCHELES has wisely departed from the orthodox plan of solo compositions, and in lieu of alternate tutti and set passages, the rather eclatant than beautiful, has produced a fantasia of varied matter, original and characteristic, in which the full resources of the orchestra are employed as nuance to the tout ensemble: in this particular MOSCHELES has imitated MOZART, whose pianoforte concertos are replete with interesting treatment for the orchestra. We were much pleased with a syncopated melody, alternately in the bass and treble, accompanied by a sequence of tulles in the counterpart; this, in conjunction with the accentuation of the orchestral accompaniment, was most strikingly effective and difficult of execution. Imaginative works in the musical art are so seldom appreciated at a first hearing that we were not surprised to find persons in the room whose obtuseness of intellect rendered them unconscious of the beauties of this concerto fantastique. The execution of MOSCHELES is always perfect, combining every style necessary for an accomplished performer, and the merit of his composition was rightly appreciated by those whose judgment to an artist is most worthy of his confidence.
The motet is the third choral composition which the Society has this season brought forward as novelties; the which, we repeat for a third time, are better calculated for other Concerts than these. A movement in A, four flats, pleased us; also a phrase of sustained melody in G in the first chorus; otherwise we cannot point to any other part of the composition that merits particular notice. We much prefer the most insignificant productions of fancy to all the more elaborate works of pedant without the traits of originality. We have heard enough of Mr. HORSLEY’S glees to excite our admirations for his talents; but we must in candour say that the motet performed at this Concert does not add to his fames, nor to the prosperity of the Society by its performance.
The MS. Overture by MENDELSSOHN is finely conceived; the tranquillity of the arpeggio subject, and sostenuto, in a major key, are well contrasted by the bold relief of a secondary one in F minor. A singular effect is produced by the trumpet reiterating the dominant seventh note B flat, which in a subsequent bar becomes the tonic, the arpeggio motive playfully continued among the string instruments. The coda resembles part of BEETHOVEN’S Pastorale Sifnonia. This overture requires much delicacy in its execution, and we shall be delighted to hear it another season.
One of the early sinfonias of HAYDN is occasionally very acceptable. The one performed is in G, and has a schezzo [sic] finale worked with all the skill of the great master. The execution was not altogether so delicate as we could have wished; the nuance of the last movement and minuets was totally neglected by the violin and basses. NICHOLSON was conspicuous in the andante, and gave his rentrées the finish of a fist-rate flautist.
The air from Mount Sinai is unequal in merit and interest; the one-half is tedious, the other melodious and tame, as Mrs. KNYVETT sings it.
The violin concerto demands powers of a different kind to those displayed by Mr. WOLFF; it contains phrases in recitative which must be felt ere they can be expressed, and this Gentleman is frigidity itself in expression. His intonation was constantly sharp, otherwise his other redeeming qualities are numerous. His sostenuto and staccato bow are good, and the brilliancy of his rapid executions met with much applause. SPOHR’S music is calculated for the style of this player, although we applaud him for having let us hear a fine composition. The cadenza of double stops was well executed. We were not aware, when we heard Mr. MORI introduce it as his own invention in MAYSEDER’S variations, that it belonged originally to the dramatic concerto of SPOHR. After this we left the room, but have since been informed the Mr. GRIESBACH’S overture has considerable merit and was well performed.
Altogether it was a very dull concert. When only eight concerts are given in this vast metropolis professedly for the performance of classical modern orchestral music, it must assuredly be at any of the eight an imperfect programme without the names of BEETHOVEN, WEBER, or SPOHR.
The Morning Post (April 10, 1834): 3.
ERRATA.—In yesterday’s account of the third Philharmonic Concerto, for “tulles in the counterpart of the concerto fantastique, by MOSCHELES,” read “is not calculated for the frigid expression of Mr. WOLFF’S violin playing.”
The Spectator (April 12, 1833): 345
THE PHILHARMONIC CONCERTS.
THE third concert was on Monday last: the scheme as follows.
|Aria, Miss Masson, “D’una madre disperata”||MEYERBEER.|
|Il Crociato in Egitto……………………………|
|Concerto Fantastique MS., first time of per-||MOSCHELES.|
|formance; Pianoforte, Mr. MOSCHELES…….|
|Motet, “Exaltabo te,” composed expressly||W. HORSLEY, Mus. Bac.|
|for the Philharmonic Society, and first time|
|of performance………………………………… z|
|Overture to Melusine, or The Mermaid and the||F. MENDELSSOHN |
|Knight” MS., first time of performance…………|
|Sinfonia, Letter Q…………………………………..||HAYDN.|
|Aria, Mrs. W. Knyvett, “Holy and great is||Chevalier NEUKOMM.|
|thy name,” Mount Sinai………………………..|
|Dramatic Concerto Violin, Mr. WOLFF………….||SPOHR.|
|Duet, Mrs. W. KNYVETT and Mr. BRADBURY,||HAYDN.|
|“By these with bliss,” and Chorus, “For|
|ever blessed,” Creation………………………..|
|Overture to Belshazzar’s Feast, MS………………||J. HENRY GRIESBACH.|
|Leader, Mr. WEICHSEL.—Conductor,||Mr. MOSCHELES.|
It is one part of the Directors’ duty to feed the public appetite for novelty; and on this occasion it was not neglected: how far excellence was joined to novelty, may in some instances be questioned. The whole affair of bespeaking compositions of certain members of the Society, instead of proceeding upon clear, intelligible principles, appears to have been dictated by mere caprice. If the Society had desired to do an act of justice to the English vocal writers of the present day, it would have selected their best works for occasional performance; but from this it has systematically refrained. It manifests the waywardness of a child, which values nothing unless, allowed to call it “its own.” What need is there to adventure in a lottery for the chance of a prize, when so much wealth is within reach? Did it never occur to the minds of these adventurers, that there are blanks as well as prizes in lotteries? The third of the new vocal pieces appears in the scheme of the present concert—the Motet by HORSLEY. Now one, at least, of this author’s Motets is known to the public, and known only to be admired. Why was not this taken? Here was no risk of failure—no doubt—no uncertainty. But the Society could exercise no ownership over it: they could not place it on their shelves as an unique copy: they could not lock it up from the rest of the world, and allow it to grow venerable with dust and cobwebs. Has the spirit of HASLEWOOD descended on the Philharmonic, or is Dr DIBDIN admitted to its councils?
As far as we were enabled to judge of this Motet, we should rate it below the author’s “God is our hope and strength;” which is formed on a purer and better style, is more vocal in its structure, and displays more of that mental as well as scientific power which Mr. HORSLEY is so well known to possess. In the verse for six voices, “Miserator et misericors Dominus,” the composer discovers that talent for vocal part-writing its which he has few superiors: but the last chorus had a disappointing effect. We ought to add, that the performance was not such as to enable us to form a perfect estimate of the composition. The balance of power, which ought to have inclined to the voices, was fearfully on the side of the instrumentalists; and thus the true character of the piece was not brought out. Miss MASSON’S singing was wasted upon a song by no means calculated for the atmosphere of a concert-room; and Mrs. KNYVETT’S was equally ineffective. The duet and chorus from Creation succeeded in emptying the room of nearly half the audience. Here again the chorus was overborne by the band. There are two versions of this duet; one of which runs thus—
“Air and ye elements, nature’s first-born,
That in quaternion run, and ceaseless changes make;
Ye dusky mists, that now arise
From hill and steaming lake,
Resound the praise of God our Lord” —
the other thus—
“Ye strong and cumbrous elements,
Who ceaseless changes make;
Ye dusky mists and dewy steams,
Who rise and fall through the air,
Resound the praise of our Lord”—
Such are the fascinations of nonsense, that the latter was selected for performance.
But let us turn to the excellencies of the scheme, residing, at [sic] they usually do, in the instrumental music. We need not vent any new raptures over MOZART’S gigantic or HAYDN’S graceful Sinfonia; but we may indulge ourselves in speaking in marked approbation of MOSCHELES’ new Fantasia. It is the best composition that he has given us for a long while. For a season he seemed to be falling into the track of the pianoforte scramblers, and sacrificing grace, erudition, and expression, to mere execution. The present composition combines all these in an eminent degree, while it is equally calculated to develop the author’s powers as a player. Nothing could be more finished than the ensemble of the performance.
SPOHR’S fine Concerto was well played by Mr. WOLFF, as far as a distinct, clear, and brilliant display of manual skill extends; and these are the usual demands which a violin concerto makes on the performer. But those who have heard it played by SPOHR will remember, that it then assumed the interest of a vocal composition. The words were left to the fancy of the hearer to supply; but the varied expression which he conveyed into the opening recitative and air could not be mistaken. It was SPOHR singing one of his own songs on his violin. With such a reminiscence, it is no mean praise to say that many parts of Mr. WOLFF’S performance afforded us great pleasure.
MENDELSSOHN’S new Overture is full of originality and beauty, and of those felicitous groupings of the wind instruments which always distinguish his compositions, while they equally evidence the skill as the genius of their author. GRIESBACH’S Overture ought to have had a better situation.
The Atlas (April 13, 1834): 235-236.
Philharmonic Society—Third Concert, Monday, April 7.
ACT I.—Sinfonia, (Jupiter)—MOZART. Aria, Miss MASSON, “D’una madre disperata” (Il Crociato in Egitto)—MEYERBEER. Concerto Fantastique (M.S.) first time of performance, Pianoforte, Mr. MOSCHELES—MOSCHELES. Motet, “Exaltabo Te,” composed expressly for the Philharmonic Society, and first time of performance—W. HORSLEY. Overture to “Melusine,” or “The Mermaid and the Knight,” (M.S.) first time of performance—F. MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY.
ACT II.—Sinfonia, Letter—HAYDN. Air, Mrs. KNYVETT, “Holy and great is thy name” (Mount Sinai)—The Chevalier NEUKOMM. Dramatic Concerto Violin, Mr. WOLFF—SPOHR. Duet, Mrs. W. KNYVETT and Mr. BRADBURY, “By thee with bliss,” and Chorus, “For ever blessed” (Creation)—HAYDN. Overture to “Belshazzar’s Feast” (M.S.)—J. HENRY GRIESBACH.
Leader, Mr. WEICHSEL—Conductor, Mr. MOSCHELES.
MR. MOSCHELES’ direction is most favourable to the full effect of symphonies; he keeps the band well together, takes the movements in excellent time, and beats with a precision and clearness which are rarely found in conductors. Musicians of German education are, in all that concerns the orchestra, whether in composing for it or in directing it, very much preferable to others, and it must be regretted, we think, by the subscribers in general, that Mr. MOSCHELES is not constantly retained in the office which he filled on Monday. The symphony of MOZART was performed with great spirit, and, except in the last movement, in which the repeats were not observed, strictly according to the author’s directions. Miss MASSON does herself credit by selecting many concert pieces which are quite new to the public, though often worthy of better acquaintance. This plan, at the same time that it creates an interest in hearers, operates favourably upon the singer, by preventing unfavourable comparisons. In this instance, however, we thought that Miss MASSON had committed the double mistake of drawing an indifferent piece of music out of its well-merited obscurity, and of undertaking to sing a composition which exposed her to more physical exertion than she is equal to. Except in a rather graceful middle movement of the aria, the laborious effort of the singer quite disfigured the performance.
Mr. MOSCHELEs, in his late compositions, has displayed the most extraordinary powers of invention, and, at the same time, taste and beauty of feeling, for which, we believe, few gave him credit. He is now another HUMMEL; he has engrafted upon that fire and fancy which always characterised his writings—the charm of his great contemporary, the suavity of melody—the new, but connected and intelligible design, and the choice method of harmonizing, in which every chord tells, though there is nothing which appears recherché or pedantic. This is only the habit of uncommon place thought, joined, perhaps, to somewhat more of conscience and judgment than most musicians possess; and very highly ought this quality to be esteemed, since, in adding to the amount of what is new and good, it increases the sum total of pleasure. We esteem the concerto fantastique one of the happiest efforts of its author: the design is purely inventive, and combines, in one movement, examples of the brilliant and expressive styles, naturally introduced, and neither of them destroying the unity of the composition. The moderate length of this piece fits it for great success in the concert-room. The harmonizing and phrasing of the slow and expressive part in G minor excited a great sensation among the musicians present. In brilliancy and precision of execution, Mr. MOSCHELES has outrun encomium: we can really say nothing worthy of his fine manual skill—it is accuracy and certainty itself. Mr. HORSLEY’S motet will, we hope, conclude the society’s unfortunate batch of compositions “to order,” which have proved to demonstration, if that fact needed proof, how incapable the best of our “native” composers are of standing by the side of the really great masters whose works are brought to a hearing in this room. If we had heard none of MOZART’S motets, we should have thought the style of some parts of this composition respectable, and the movement in A flat beautiful; but knowing the existing models in this kind, very much qualifies our admiration, and reduces what ought to be considered a work of imagination and genius to the level of an academical exercise. We did not all admire the florid passages of the duet between Mrs. KNYVETT and Mr. HORNCASTLE, nor the manner in which the trumpet was used (if our memory serve, in the first chorus), nor the close of the motet without a fugue—the more especially, as a number of choral phrases in unison had excited expectation of some point to be led off. The fugue, however, was not forthcoming, and we were obliged to be content with the plagal cadence. Conclusions of this sort are hardly excusable in church music, in which science ought to compound for an absolute want of originality in the form and style of the composition: when both are deficient, disappointment is inevitable. MENDELSSOHN’S new overture in F minor is an excellent work—it is alternately in a fanciful and in a tragic and impassioned style, recalling, in some degree, though with a different rhythmus, BEETHOVEN’S Egmont. The changes of time in this composition produce a very good effect; many of the instrumental combinations are new, and the science with which some of the phrases are worked shows the well-grounded musician.
HAYDN’S symphony, played at the commencement of the second act, is one in G, that has been so frequently heard as to make a change desirable. Will the directors never gratify the audience by choosing that symphony in F sharp minor to which the pleasant history is attached of HAYDN’S stratagem for reinstating himself in the good graces of his prince, when himself, and the orchestra under his direction, were dismissed? Not only is this work of historical and even dramatic interest, but it is excellent music to boot. The air sung by Mrs. KNYVETT from NEUKOMM’S new oratorio is not one of the most favourable specimens of its author. The signer was a little weak and uncertain in her upper tones, but in other respects the chaste and tasteful performer that she always is. Mr. WOLFF brought forward the same concerto in which, as we hear, SPOHR first introduced himself as a violin player to the English public. Every musician present felt grateful to the player for reviving so beautiful a composition, which is modelled upon a vocal scena, and imitated in turn the recitative, the aria cantabile, and the energetic an impassioned bravura. In the last movement in A minor, the player displayed himself most advantageously, as it regards the mechanism of execution. Mr. WOLFF’S taste is very good, but in respect to tone and intonation he has yet much to study. The latter part of the Creation, though it has some good choral effects, is deservedly less known than the rest of that work. Mr. GRIESBACH’S new overture is creditably put together, but is has nothing of the more spiritual part of composition to recommend. A new work ought always to occupy another position in the bill, or not be heard at all.
Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette, Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press (April 12, 1834): 4.
THE PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY.—The third concert for the season which took place on Monday night, and presented much novelty as well as variety, Mr. Moscheles brought forward another new concerto for the pianoforte, a fantasia, in which both in originality and power he has gone beyond all his former compositions. It is a work written, not in servile subservience to the reigning taste, as is too often the case, but for reputation with the real judges of the art.
The Athenæum (April 19, 1834): 297-298.
Third Philharmonic Concert.—This was a less interesting Concert than either of the two which preceded it; the symphonies being Mozart’s Jupiter,’ and one by Haydn in G,—and we confess that, for the full enjoyment of a musical evening, we require to hear some work of Beethoven’s or Weber’s. But this very cause probably made the Concert more acceptable than its predecessors to many, who are not yet fully alive to the grandeur and originality of the latest school of writers. In the scheme there was no lack of novelty; two MS. overtures, one by Mendelsohn Bartholdy, called ‘Melusine, or the Knight and the Mer-
maid,’ and one by Mr. J. H. Griesbach, were performed for the first time; the former, like all the works of its gifted composer, exhibited much skill and experience of orchestral effect in the treatment of his subject, which was sweet enough to be the song of any siren [sic], but was, as a whole, less effective than most of his other compositions; the latter was less fanciful, and rather deficient in contrast, but it is written in a fine vigorous style, and possesses great merit. We had also a ‘Concerto Fantastique,’ composed and performed, for the first time, by Moscheles. We much like these irregular compositions, beginning with Weber’s ‘Concert Stück,’ when they are the production of a master mind; and the one under consideration was full of beauties and contrasts, to which ample justice was rendered by the performer, whose perfect execution (a happy combination of delicacy and fire) we cannot imagine surpassable; his octave passages in the last allegro were absolutely miraculous. Mr. Wolff’s performance of Spohr’s ‘Dramatic Concerto,’ was unequal; in the introductory recitative he was too sharp throughout, and by no means effective; in the rapid passages and cadenze of the last allegro, his bowing was very successful. He deserves an instrument less meagre in tone than his own.
Of the vocal part of the selection, we should have little pleasure in speaking.
Supplement to the Musical Library (May 1834): 18-19.
THIRD CONCERT, MONDAY, April 7th.
|Sinfonia . . . . . (Jupiter) . . .||MOZART.|
|Aria, Miss Masson, ‘D’una Madre disperata.’ (Il Coriciato in Egitto)||MEYERBEER.|
|Concerto Fantastique (MS.), first time of performance; Pianoforte,||MOSCHELES.|
|Mr. Moscheles . . . . . . . . . .|
|Motet, ‘Exaltabo Te,’ composed expressly for the Philharmonic Society,|
|and first time of performance . . . W. HORSLEY, Mus||Mus. Bac. Oxon. Oxon.|
|Overture to Melusine, or The Mermaid and the Knight, (MS.) first||BARTHOLDY.|
|time of performance . . . . F. MENDELSSOHN||BARTHOLDY.|
|Sinfonia, . . . . . . . . . . .||HAYDN.|
|Aria, Mrs. W. Knyvett, ‘Holy and great is thy name.’ (Mount|
|Mount Sinai) . . . . . . .THE CHEVALIER||NEUKOMM.|
|Dramatic Concerto Violin, Mr. Wolff . . . . . .||SPOHR.|
|Duet, Mrs. W. Knyvett and Mr. Bradburry, ‘By these with bliss,’ and||HAYDN.|
|Chorus, ‘For ever blessed.’ (Creation.) . . . . .|
|Overture to Belshazzar’s Feast, (MS.) . . . J. HENRY||GRIESBACH.|
|Leader, Mr. WEICHSEL.—Conductor, Mr. MOSCHELES.|
This was, on the whole, rather a tedious concert, though at least half the pieces were of a very superior kind. The fact is, that the vocal part acted as a drag on the instrumental, and the bill was unskilfully put together. It is more easy to meet with good performers than good managers, and the chances are, that, in a committee of six or seven musical men, being professors, not one will be found with a head for business. In the council-room they are as weak as Antæus raised from the earth: the moment their feet touch the orchestra they become strong.
The first symphony—thanks to a leader and conductor of such steadiness—never went better. The second—that in G, performed at Oxford by Haydn when the doctorate was conferred on him—though it has no trombones, no trumpets, no drums, nor even clarinets, which were scarcely known at the time it was written, is always found to have charms for unprejudiced ears, for persons of taste. What can be more melodious, at the same time more rich, than the adagio?—What more vivacious, exhilarating, than the minuet and trio ! What more original than the finale? We should be most happy to hear half a dozen of such old symphonies every season, though they are so comparatively noiseless.
The Concerto Fantastique is in fact in three movements, though they are all linked together, and there seems to be only a change of time. The two greatest qualities of a composer are combined in this work— invention and taste. These possessed, industry will furnish what is improperly termed the science, though labour can never supply the want of the creative power. In this we have plenty of agreeable melody, full and rich instrumentation, showing that the whole has been as well studied as imagined, originality and variety. The first part addresses itself most to the experienced auditor. The middle, slow, in G minor, appeals to those who love expressive, sentimental music; and the finale, all gaiety—some bad critics called it trivial—is meant for those whose attention is apt to flag, unless kept alive by a brisk, stimulating conclusion—something to which every hand and foot may responsively beat time. The modest length of this—about fourteen minutes—is much in its favour; not that the matériel is in danger of becoming attenuated, but because no feeling in any degree approaching to satiety is at all induced. The good sense of Mr. Moscheles has enabled him to feel the truth of the maxim, Jam satis est, the wisdom of which few composers of concertos have had wit enough to discover.
The violin concerto was played at one of these concerts by Spohr himself, many years ago, and with his performance fresh in our recollection, we were quite satisfied with Mr. Wolf’s. This may be called a scena for the violin: there are both recitative and air, slow and quick, in it: words only are wanting; and when it is considered how few vocalists allow us to make out a single syllable that passes from their lips, and that an instrument is much more perfect, quoad instrument, than the voice, it may be a question whether songs, &c. are not quite as intelligible when produced from the string and bow, as from the trachea and larynx. The whole composition abounds in feeling, is full of striking effects, and was now performed in a superior manner.
The aria of Meyerbeer does not quite suit Miss Masson’s character of voice. To parts of it she gave great effect: to others, where flexibility is required, she proved unequal; but her articulation and pronunciation are entitled to unqualified praise. We regretted Mrs. W. Knyvett’s choice—if it were her choice—of a song. The first half of this is somewhat dull, and the whole is calculated for a church or chapel, not a concert-room. Neither did the duet succeed, for the same reason. Moreover it is by no means the best thing in the Creation.
The motet, one of the compositions written for the society, possesses some of the merits, and exhibits the defects of the former two. That it is the production of a musician who is thoroughly acquainted with the rules, and experienced in the practice, of his art, is quite clear: that it wants the force, the character, which originality, or something approaching to originality, alone can give, is not less obvious. We are too much in the habit of dignifying by the term composition barren imitations, provided the score is well written—for such is the phrase—though writing a score well is about as mechanical an operation as writing correct orthography and good grammar, and demands no other qualifications than those which a tolerable education, attention, and patience, will generally bestow. To compose ought to signify to invent. Without invention, that is, without originality, what is commonly called a composition is no better than a copy; a selection, or pasticcio, at the best. We should have admired a slow movement in this motet, in A flat if we mistake not, the violins con sordini, had it not at once reminded us of other things. We should much have approved the combination of the vocal and instrumental bases in the last chorus, but that it is an undisguised imitation of ‘The Lord shall reign,’ the well-known opening of Handel’s chorus, ‘The horse and his rider.’ In few words then, we must have pronounced this rather a clever, and in some parts a pleasing, work, had it been what we call new: viewed as a composition openly challenging criticism, and wanting novelty, we can only say that it is by no means so successful as some of Mr. Horsley’s efforts in glee-writing have proved.
The new overture of Mendelssohn in F minor is an able composition, but, judging from once hearing, does not seem to us to be equal to either of his former two. If, however, on further acquaintance, it shall appear to come at all near them,—which possibly may be the case—we shall joyfully declare our conviction, and withhold no commendation to which its merits may entitle it. Mr. Griesbach’s overture has a right to claim as much praise as we have bestowed on the new vocal pieces produced at this and the former concert: it is just as correctly written, and exhibits the same modicum of originality.