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THE MENTAL HISTORY OF POETRY..
"To search through all I felt or saw,
Now, in those art-circumstances incident to the times we have alluded to, before those external conditions essential for the formation of Painting and Music existed, before science had dawned, before the simple and precious ore of Music was separated from the miscellaneous and earthy materials surrounding it, when it was scarcely seen to exist, before it was gathered even into the vaguest system, whilst it had not conformed a rudiment of its science, or assumed a feature in art; and when Painting was seldom seen, ere any of the sciences and preliminary studies which precede it were begun to be cultivated,—the finest and the only general medium of demonstration which man possessed was,—language. Consequently in language that high and comprehensive internal flow of admiration, that abstract rapture of emotion resulting from a keen moral susceptibility, a bright and broad imaginative expanse, a full mental endowment, acting upon all the grandeur, beauty, wisdom and worth of the external world,—sought expression. On language this inherent spirituality in man, this eternal sunshine of the mind, poured its lustre and kindled it into song.
f rom the circumstances we have considered, it would appear that Poetry, at the period in question, existed to a great extent of necessity—that is, in the absence of Painting and Music to divert the stream of aesthetic expression. It may be observed, however, that it is not here intended to imply that at this period there would be no strong predisposition in some minds to adopt other art-expression than that of Poetry; but that, however favourably many natures may have then been inwardly endowed for demonstrating the art3 of Music or Painting, this primary endowment, from want of the necessary shaping by cultivation, and the essential guide and inspiration of previous example, besides the minor artificial requisites which the illustration of these arts involve, and which can only exist in a rather highly civilised age,—from the absence of these outward conditions, the most favourably endowed tendencies in the direction of the above arts could scarcely have accomplished any noticeable result, or conducted the mind of their possessor to any adequate expression of his ideas,—and that these circumstances would tend to drive the mind for expression into the freer and more attainable medium of Poetry.
The reader is now in possession of the circumstances whence we derived the conclusion, essayed in page 101, that Poetry was the primeval art — the commencing link in that grand and golden chain of the fine arts which encircles and adorns life—the first shining herald from the human mind of their bright existence and future reign.
Having now separated the art of Poetry, with regard to its physical constitution, from that of the sister arts, Painting and Music, showing that the material of its effect is of a compound and negative character, whilst that of the other arts is pure and of positive influence; at the same time having shown, on the other hand, that Poetry, in its effect, is intimately connected^ with those arts, inasmuch as it absorbs much of the aesthetic instinct, whose pure tendency is in their direction. Having observed that Poetry is the primeval art, that it shines in the dawn of all art, carrying at this period the whole burthen of that wide expression, — bearing in its channel the main stream of that full spring tide of admiration which, inspired by nature, is ever flowing through the mind and from the heart of man, and shining on the record of the world as the one tribute of intelligent nature to that invisible spring of beauty, "the varied God," on the part of all nature: the moral stream of art shining to the heavens, though within it carrying the images of earth, and bringing down upon the earth the high glories—and mingling its images with the deep and bright infinity—of the skies. Having observed the circumstances which caused such an influence to assume the form of Poetry, and Poetry alone, we shall proceed to consider the imme
* Continued from page 102.
diate process of the formation of Poetry more in detail, and thus enter upon that portion of our inquiry, anticipated in page 87, respecting the separate and foreign art-influence which invests it. And whether we consider this separate influence with reference to former times, or all times, the principles which regulate it are the same in all circumstances: it is simply the presence in Poetry of instincts tending and belonging to the other arts, as to Music or painting, but which, through absence of appropriately specific demonstrative endowments, or through other and still more external desiderata, such as the existence of the arts to which these instincts relate at the requisite point of development, the instincts themselves, in the necessary vigour and ardour, or the domination of the special poetic instinct (the consideration of which, by the bye, has not yet been arrived at), which, through some of these causes, have retired from or been baffled in, other art-directions, and sought the channel of Poetry, and, whilst adopting poetical expression, stilljnfluencing and modifying the character of that expression.
In appealing to language as it medium wherewith to reproduce some influence of admiration,' it is obvious the first proceeding would be to adopt that process which involves language only in its simple application, which employs it in its common and ordinary capacity of suggestiveness alone, namely, literal description. This ordinary use of language would go to form the framework, the necessary subject-matter of the aesthetic intention; and under the inspiration of the Poet, it would soon be observed to define the outline of the poetical idea, to pourtray the general material likeness of those objects which lit the fire of his imagination ; or, if the influences of his admiration were qualities instead of objects or persons,—then this literal description would be observed to prepare the essential physical circumstances, by the narration of actions or events, appropriate for the display of the qualities in question. This literal reproductive process alone would be sufficient to invest with replete form an unpretending poetical idea— to reproduce a simple object of Poetic admiration—and where that idea unites the qualities of conciseness, originality, with that of not involving circumstances or effects lying far without ordinary experience, it suffices to produce simple but very effective Poetry, as in the following example:
"A violet by a mossy stone
But in investigating the component character of poetical reproduction and expression, there is soon seen to manifest itself the instinct of Painting and Music. First, with reference to painting, it is soon evident thattthe poet begins to borrow that richness, that beauty in the abstract, which a vivid and lavish portrayal of natural objects and effects can confer upon his literal description. The abstract and always mysteriously gratifying influence of colour, of light, of space ; the influence of form and of natural arrangement, is evidently understood by the poet, and is highly conspicuous in all Poetry. This fact is exemplified in that tendency which prevails in Poetry to adorn its circumstances with all the splendour,—-or, on the other hand, gird them in all the glowing force, massive grandeur, or desolate picturesqueness—of effect, which these attributes of the material world, handled by nature, or by one who understands nature as a painter, can be made to convey. This accounts for much of that varied and powerful scenic effect in Poetry, for the poetical tendency to clothe persons, objects and circumstances in that condensed fulness and force of natural colouring—to surround them with that redundant array of natural imagery, beautiful or austere, which is scarcely compatible with reality. All this is the working within the poet of the painter's instinct.
Here is an example of a person thus clothed with, and associated with, a teeming abundance of natural charm, in Tennyson's "Eleanore :"—
"Far off from human neighbourhood,
Thou wcrt born on a summer morn,
With breezes from our oaken glades,
Of lavish lights and floating shades;
And flattering thy childish thought
The Oriental fairy brought.
At the moment of thy birth,
The choicest wealth of all tho earth,
Again, this instinct is visible in Poetry, not only with reference to the materials, requisite for natural scenic effect, themselves, but with respect to the manner in which these materials are used, the way in which they are wielded, the method in which they are rendered productive of effect. Thus we may observe in poetical description all that effect which can be wrought by skilful and intelligent "touch," that wonderful efficacy, that characteristic expression and ultimate aim of effort which is produced through a few strokes; and here the presence of the painter's instinct in Poetry is more -visible than ever; for it is in this faculty of attaining the desired effect—as in many cases only that effect can be attained— by one or a few strokes, where more particularly the artistic genius resides; and no one, not even a painter, will dispute that this quality is observable, and to its highest and most meritorious exemplifications, in the works of great poets. In the following example the salient features of Rhine scenery are rapidly selected by the eye of the bard, and thus projected into a poetical picture:— "The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom Of coming ripeness, the white city's sheen, The rolling stream, the precipice's gloom. The forest's growth, and Gothic walls between, The wild rocks shaped, as they had turrets been."
Here are materials not only for one, but for many pictures ; and it is worthy of observation how finely the different materials of natural effect are contrasted in the above example, how skilfully and artistically 'they are arranged, as in the passage italicised, where the forest's growth is so romantically associated with Gothic walls. There is, moreover, visible in the above,—the power of grasping extraordinary breadth of effect, and expressing it in one stroke. Thus, what a sweep of natural scenery is embraced in the exexpression, "the negligently grand!" What an illimitable array of charm is pictured, when side by side with this is suggested "the fruitful bloom of coming ripeness." "The white city's sheen," connected by "the rolling stream" with "the precipice's gloom," both in propriety of arrangement and contrast of effect, is, to say the least, unexceptionable and most picturesque and graphic, and of itself would require more than one picture of the artist for its pourtrayal.
Besides the substantiation of this truth of the general presence of the painter's instinct in Poetry, which examples from the works of all great poets (of which many more might be adduced) supply; the fact, that it is the continual and general custom of a large class of artists to draw the subjects of their pictures from the poet, and literally follow the poet in his projection of natural scenes and effects, would afford adequate proof of the same ;—of this presence of the painter's instinct, his love of nature, his susceptibility to her varied phases of manifestation and impression, his delicate and truthful discernment of her effects, and his intelligence of the aesthetic principles of those effects, consequently his power of reproducing them or conceiving them—being strongly recognisable in Poetry.
(To be Continued.)
ROYAL ENGLISH OPERA.
Six representations of Mr. Benedict's new opera have thoroughly established its success. On Saturday night the house was literally "crammed;" the opera was listened to with the same lively satisfaction as on the night of the first performance ; the same pieces were singled out for applause and "encores," alike hearty and unanimous; the principal singers were recalled after every act; and, at tho conclusion, in obedience to a rapturous summons, the composer himself appeared before the curtain.
Enough has been said about the book, and when it is stated that the task of preparing verses for the songs and concerted music, has been accomplished in such a manner as to combine sense and poetry with
lyric numbers—a desideratum too often unsupplied in operatic libretti, onr duty in this respect is fulfilled. It is too late in the day to enter critically into tho literary and dramatic merits of The Colleen Bawn; and the question of whether such a subject was well suited for musical treatment is Biinply one of taste. Whatever objections might bo laid would, in most instances, apply with equal strength to Der Freischiitz, Dinorah, and other operas of forest, pastoral, or village life. The incidents of the water-cave are not a bit more melodramatic than those of the flood-scene in Dinorah, the only drawback lying in this fact — that as Eily, Myles, and Danny Mann are not all three brought in face to face contact, there is no opportunity for such a grand trio-finale as Meyerbeer has contrived for Dinorah, Hoel, and Corcntin. Myles-naCoppaleen mistakes Danny for an otter, and shoots him, it is true; but a trio for soprano, tenor, and bass, with an imganary otter for bass, would hardly, we think, be acceptable. As the original play is reconstructed, it presents quite sufficient dramatic "effect," variety of character, and hints for local colouring; and of all these Mr. Benedict has availed himself with the utmost skill. If no one would speak, or rather attempt to speak, with the Irish "brogue," except Mr. Dnssck, the representative of Corrigan — whose impersonation, by the way, though a little overdone, exhibits a considerable amount of humour — there would be really nothing to complain of. Allowing for ever so many deficiencies, however, the opera has won the car and the admiration of the public.
The general characteristics of Mr. Benedict's music are precisely what we had a right to expect from Weber's most gifted disciple (the late Heinrich Marscbncr not excepted), and the author of so many genuine melodies. It is strange, that since 1846 when The Crusaders, his third English opera was produced at Drnry Lane Theatre — a dramatic composer of such eminence should have been neglected by tho directors of our operatic establishments, and stranger still when it it remembered that, in the interim, Mr. Benedict has been constantly producing works that are now universally praised. To mention no others his Undine, as full of dramatic power as of bright tune and harmonious beauty, has been talked of ever since its production at the Norwich Festival, and rendered tho name of its composer "familiar as a household word." The fame of this may probably have reminded the spirited managers of the Royal English Opera that the musician who wroto The Gipsy's Warning, The Brides of Venice, and The Crusaders, was still alive, and still in the undisturbed possession of his inventive faculties.
The Lilt/ of Killarney is divided into three acts — the first being the longest and best, the second the next longest and next best, the third tho shortest and, on the whole, least vigorous. It could hardly have been otherwise. As with tho music so it is with the libretto. Mr. Benedict is always equal to the situation he has to deal with; indeed, he not seldom rises above it; but he must bend perforce to the absolute conditions of his libretto. A German in musical taste, although a naturalised Englishman in fact, bo has treated his subject just as any of his aspiring compatriots would have done (granting thorn the ability), and especially his master, Weber. He has idealised it from first to last. Not alone. Danny Mann, but Hardress Cregan, Myles-na-Coppalecn, and Eily herself, are raised into a higher region by the wand of the musical enchanter. On the other hand, with a felicity that very few German theatrical composers have exhibited, he has caught tho national melody of the country in which the plot of his opera is laid, and has used it with undeviating propriety as a sort of harmonious undercurrent. This he has effected by artistic touches here and there, never interfering with the main design, nor appearing where—as in tho higher passages of feeling — the imitation of peculiar turns of melody, &c, would be obtrusive and a mere trick of handling. A thorough master of all the resources of instrumentation, he has made the orchestra everywhere subservient to his ends, and by well imagined combinations, introduced at not too frequent intervals, has obtained the characteristic colouring alluded to wherever it was most essential and wherever it was sure not to interfere with any graver purpose — such as the pourtrayal of strong emotion or the delineation of powerfully dramatic climax. But to leave generalities: tho overture is what it should be—a pastoral, and in its way a petit cliefd'auvre, sparkling, dramatic, full of tune, and scored to perfection. The introduction to the first act, in which Hardress and his guests are assembled on the eve of the intended wedding, is alone an ample apology for the interpolation of a new scene, by way of prologue, into Mr. Boucicnult's well-kuown drama. Nothing could be more spirited or more cleverly designed. Hardrcss's song, "The bachelor's life," contrasts most effectively with the choral acclamations of his more boisterous companions, besides being genial in itself; while the chorus which brings the introduction to an end—" A race now by moonlight"—delivered first by the men, then by the women, and then by both simultaneously, is lifelike, animated, and full of tho subject. In the solidity of this introduction, which is not the less brilliant for being well-kuit, the German training as well aa the German sentiment of the composer is manifest; here, in short, Mr. Benedict, notwithstanding the old English or Irish cut of the tune allotted to Hardress, is fairly, if unconsciously, in "Vaterland." This enlivening commencement is successfully followed up in the serenade and duet for Danny Mann and Hardress ("The moon has raised her lamp above") — the "signal duet" as it is called—a piece which, though not in a rhythmical sense so entirely original as many other things in the opera, must inevitably attract musicians by its ingenious construction just as much as it delights tho public by its graceful melody and its admirable appropriateness to the situation. Tho quartet ("Oh, never was seen such a beautiful star")—in which the two characters already named take the chief part, while Mrs. Cregan and Corrigan are in the background — shows Mr. Benedict again in "Vaterland," and could only have been written by one to whom tho music of Weber was as much "a feeling" as " high mountains" to Lord Byron. Myles-na-Coppnlcen's first air is in its way irreproachable. The recitative, in the minor key, is as plaintive as the air, in the major (" It is a charming girl I love"), is hearty and tuneful. The burden of this is repeatedly alluded to during the opera, especially when Mylcs is soliloquising. Eily's first air is to the one already mentioned what the Colleen Bawn is to her unrequited but constant lover. Just as characteristic as the other, "In my wild mountain valley" becomes proportionately more expressive. Mylcs's song is tho manifestation of a lovo for ono in the same sphere as the singer, but Eily's lovo moves in a higher sphero than her owns and there is in tho beautiful melody with which Mr. Benedict has been inspired by this nice distinction, something of " the desire of the moth for the star" which ono of our great poets has apostrophised so eloquently. It is replete alike with dejection and aspiration — the first being conspicuous iu the opening, which is in the minor key, the last in the exquisite burden—
11 And, led by my taper'! bright shining,
— which is in the major. The whole nature of the "Colleen Bawn" is foreshadowed iu this and in another song to which we shall presently allude. Of the "Cruiskecn Lawn" — arranged in quartet for Eily, Sheclah, Mylcs, and Father Tom (Eily principal) — we can only say that never was national melody (whether Irish. Scotch, or English — and Mr. W. Chappell, an excellent authority, tells us that it is English, tho name of the original tune being "St. Paul's steeple") treated in a more discreet, and, at the same time, ingenious manner. Mr. Benedict again, by a few artistic touches, has enriched the melody and enhanced its intrinsic beauty. The finale to the first act is in some respects a masterpiece. The duct for Eily and Hardress, with which it commences, reveals a touch of Spohr, and iB at any rate for the most part essentially German in feeling. The rest is as forcible as it is musicianlike. The concluding quartet has, it is true, a strident passage, in unison, of the Donizetti and Verdi school; but that is only one element in the general effect. The situation, tho strongest in tho opera, could hardly have been treated more powerfully.
The hunting chorus—" Tally ho'oh 1" with solos, interspersed, for Anne Chute, is as bright and cheerful as could be wished ; nor from a musical point of view is there anything to be said in disparagement of the florid air for Anno Chute ("The eye of love is keen"), and the dnet into which it merges; though it was certainly difficult for the composer to make as much of Hardress with the rich heiress as of Hardress with the poor and low-born "Colleen." The next piece — a trio for Hardress, Corrigan, nnd Mrs. Cregan (the accompaniment to which occasionally reminds us of Spohr's overture to Faust)—is one of the most striking and ably-written concerted pieces in the opera. Hero once more our composer w dreaming listlessly in "Vaterland." The following duet (where Danny Mann obtains the glove from Mrs. Cregan), in the first movement, again shows Mr. Benedict's predilection for Spohr (whose style he can emulate without borrowing his ideas), and in the last — a pompons military refrain, in which the purity of tho Cregan escutcheon is duly apostrophised —an entirely independent train of thought, hardly of a colour with the rest. Danny Mann's scena — however difficult it may be to imagine Danny Mann singing it — is another masterpiece. Nothing in the whole work is more touchinglv expressive than the slow movement, "The Colleen Bawn, the Colleen Bawn 1" while the allegro, fiery and passionate, is rife with the very spirit of Weber, whose name might have been attached to it without fear of questioning. To this fine piece succeeds what, in our opinion, is —to speak in conventional language —" the gem of the opera." The ballad, " I'm alone, I'm alone," would seem to have sprung from the fountain head of Irish tune, so quaint is it, so plainlivc, and at the same time so spontaneous. Has Mr. Benedict obtained access to some hitherto undiscovered works of Caroan? Yes or no, that Carolan, in his best moments of inspiration might have produced just such a melody, is as positive, as that, under
any circumstances, Carolan could never have clothed it in such perfect harmony. There was a time when such an air as this, so beautiful and so instinct with the Irish character, would in itself have sufficed to make an opera; but the Webers and Bossinis, the Meyerbcers and Aubers of our day, have taught the public to expect some half-dozen more or less perfect things in every opera — just as it was when Mozart filled aU Europe with melody, and Cimarosa and Paesicllo sang what J. S. Bach would have called "the pretty Italian tunes," in the favoured cities of the South. Happily Mr. Benedict, in The Lily of KWarney, has not been reduced to such straits as to mako tho success of his opera depend upon ono song; but, like his gifted contemporaries, has been abio to "crowd his score with tune." Between Eily's ballad and the finale there is an oxtrcmely clever and dramatically conceived duet between the heroine nnd her humble adorer, in which Myles warns Eily against Danny Mann. In this, as in so many other parts of the opera, Mr. Benedict, while clinging to the traditions of "Vaterland," evinces a fluency which can only havo been derived from an intimate knowledge and thorongh appreciation of the best Italian models. The music of the water-cave scene, in which occurs the incident of the " header," and other points not easily amenable to anything higher than a purely melodramatic treatment, has in no way daunted the composer. The introduction of a chorus of boatmen, in the distance, was a happy idea, and is in an equal degree effective, whether as a prelude to what follows or as a sequel to the whole, to which its reiteration, as the curtain falls, gives a sort of poetical consistency. All the purely melodramatic music is excellent — picturesque as well as melodious, the occasion.nl snatches of Mylcs's song, "There's but one Colleen Bawn," forming another happy connecting link. For a grand concerted finale there was, as we have hinted, no opportunity; but Mr. Benedict (like Weber in the incantation scene in Der Freischiiiz) has managed to create and sustain a lively interest without this important musical accessory. That the dignity of his work in some degree Buffers from its absence must be admitted; but under the circumstances there was no help — "header" and grand finale together being incompatible.
Act HI. begins with a remarkably graceful serenade ("Lullaby") for Myles, addressed to the sleeping "Colleen," to which succeeds an admirably written trio for Eily, Myles and Father Tom. We have then the wedding music, comprising a chorns with ballet, and a charming address for the bridesmaids (" Let the mystic orange flowers" \ all showy and brilliant, and like the trio in tho legitimate school of German dramatic art. The "popular ballad" of the opera, " Eily mavournccn "—sung by the repentant Hardress, who imagines that Eily is dead —is far above the ordinary calibre of such things, being elegant without the slightest tinge of commonplace. In this respect words and music arc well matched, and might serve as healthy models for the future. The concerted piece which follows, and may be regarded as the commencement to the last finale, is ingeniously constructed, and includes a trio for Mrs. Cregan, Anne Chute, and Hardress (" From the window, haste', away"), in the shape of a round or canon, which will hardly fail to enlist tho attention and approval of connoisseurs. The final air for Eily ("By sorrow tried severely"), chiefly noticeable for its buoyant and cheerful melody, is, nevertheless, nppropriato to the situation, and brings down the curtain with unmistakeablc effect.
We have spoken in general terms of the performance, and have only to add a word or two about the representatives of the dramatis persona. Miss Louisa Pync, both in a musical and dramatic sense, is an ideal "Colleen Bawn." About her execution of music the effect of which depends on fluent and brilliant vocalisation enough, though certainly not too much, lias been written; bnt in the two songs of Eily, and especially the last, "I'm alone, I'm alone," she rivals the sweetest singers any period nnd of any clime. More perfect and touching expression was never listened to. Mr. Harrison, in Myles-na-Coppaleen, has added another to his recent list of "genre" characters, in which his stage-tact and histrionic proficiency stand him in such good stead. His music, too, suits him entirely, and he delivers it con amore throughout. Miss Susan Pyne cannot make herself look precisely old enough for the mother of Hardress; but what she lacks in age she atones for in a spirited conception of the part. Miss Jessie M'Lcan improves, and it depends upon herself to make further progress. With a voice at once so flexible and agreeable there is nothing (she herself "willing") to prevent her attaining an honourable position. Industry and application will effect all that is required. Mr. Haigh, too, is advancing. On the whole, Hardress is the part in which he has appeared to most advantage. As specimens of his singing, the duet with Mr. Santley in the first act, and tho ballad, "Eily mavourneen," may be cited with special commendation. To Mr. Dussek allusion has been made. Mr. Patey has an ungrateful part in Father Tom, but as far as the music goes ho made the most of it. For Mr. Santley no praise can bo excessive. To specify what he sings well in the somewhat high-flown music allotted to Danny Mann would be to single out almost every passage; but not to name the scene of the second act, beginning with the slow movement, ** The Colleen Bawn, the Colleen Bawn!" as among the finest pieces of dramatic singing that have been heard for years upon the stage, would be to leave unnoticed one of the most remarkable features in the performance of Mr. Benedict's deservedly successful opera. To the chorus, the orchestra, and Mr. Alfred Mellon, their talented and indefatigable chief, justice has already been rendered. Such auxiliaries in an operatic performance on the grand scale of the Royal English Opera are invaluable. They give life and spirit to the whole.— Times, Feb. 17.
MONDAY POPULAR CONCERTS. The concert on Monday night (the 75th) was interesting for several reasons. The programme contained three pieces which had not previously been heard—viz., Chcrubini's third quartet (in C major), the andante and Scherzo from Mendelssohn's unfinished quartet (No. 7), and Hummel's trio in E major, for pianoforte, violin and violoncello. It was tho lost appearance of M. Sainton, and the first of Mr. Sims Reeves, M. Sainton's engagement has been a legitimate success. The great French violinist has shown that his style was neither French, German, Italian, nor Belgian, but cosmopolitan, and that the works of every master came easy to his hand, and lay entirely within the sphere of his appreciation. More vigorous, chaste, and unaffected playing 'could not be wished. On Monday, as though to give (clat to his temporary retirement, M. Sainton played, as it seemed to us, even better than at any previous concert. The quartet of Chcrubini—a truly grand work, originally composed as an orchestral symphony—is a severe test for the most expert violinist; and equally so, in a totally different style, ore the movements from the posthumous quartet of Mendelssohn. Both, however, were perfectly executed, the scherzo of Mendelssohn (a thoroughly Mcndelssohnian inspiration, full of the spirit and humour of A Midsummer Night's Dream) being encored and repeated. M. Sainton's coad jutors were MM. Rics, Webb and Fiatti—Mr. Webb especially winning distinction in the first variation of Mcndelsshon's andante, where the theme is given to the viola. Signor Fiatti, who has but lately returned from his tour with Mad. Goldschmidt-Lind, remains where he was— at the head of all existing violoncellists. In the quartet of Chcrubini he was a tower of strength ; whilo the fairy-like passages of Mendelssohn's scherzo were touched with a delicacy scarcely less ethereal than themselves. To Mr. Halle, the pianist of the evening, was assigned the solo sonata of Beethoven, Op. 26 (with the variations and funeral march)—how he plays which need not be told. In the trio of Hummel (with M. Sainton and Signor Piatti), Mr. Halle's execution could hardly have been excelled in neatness, grace, and vigour by the composer himself, one of the greatest masters of the instrument in an age prolific of great masters. The trios of Hummel (whose music, by the way, is happily becoming more in vogue at these concerts than was formerly the case) are precisely the cheerful, brilliant sort of pieces to wind up the concerts with effect, and send away the audience in good spirits. The trio in E is among the most spirited and attractive of the seven ; but every one of the remaining six deserves a hearing.
For Mr. Sims Reeves, who received the hearty welcome to which his rare merits as a singer of classical music entitle him, two of the finest songs of Beethoven were selected—" Oh, beauteous daughter of the starry night" (in the original, "Bnsslied"), and the Lieder-Kreis—" An die feme Gelicbte" ("To the distant beloved"), six songs in one, each a melody, and the whole, combined, R masterpiece which even Beethoven has not surpassed. Both were grandly sung, and after both Mr. Reeves was recalled with enthusiasm ; but, as a matter of course, the incomparable Lieder-Kreis was the most [striking display. Although the six songs comprise in all some thirty verses, the earnest and impassioned manner in which they were delivered held the audience spell-bound to the end, a genuine burst of applause testifying to the delight they had experienced. The other singer was Miss Susanna Cole, whose fresh and attractive voice is getting more and more thoroughly under the control of its possessor. In Mr. Henry Sraart'B elegant canzonet, "Soft and bright the gems of night," and in an exquisite " Lullaby" of the 17th century C Golden slumbers kiss your eyes"), for the revival of which we are indebted to tho indefatigable research of Mr. W. Chappell (in whose "Popular Music of the Olden Time, " it finds a place), Miss Cole won golden opinions, and at the termination of each was complimented by a " recall." Mr. Benedict accompanied the vocal music. The pianoforte part of Beethoven's Lieder-Kreis is extremely difficult, but under the hands of this accomplished musician the difficulties seemed to vanish, and none but those who are acquainted with the music would have guessed that anything more trying than an ordinary accompaniment was in question.
At the next concert, when Mr. Sims Reeves is again to sing, Miss Arabella Goddard is announced to play Woelfl's celebrated sonata di bravura, called Ne Plus Ultra. On the same occasion M. Vieuxtemps makeshis last appearance for the season. The place of the admirable Belgian violinist, however, is immediately to be filled up by Hcrr Joseph Joachim. If spirit and enterprise deserve success, it is unquestionably merited by these entertainments, nothing being left undone to sustain the high position to which they have hitherto been indebted for their almost unexampled popularity.
ADELINA PATTI AT BRUSSELS. (From an occasional Correspondent.) We have lately been in a high state of excitement, musically speaking, in this pleasant little capital, this petit Paris, as the brave Belgians themselves delight in calling it; so, under the impression that a short account of the cause thereof may prove interesting to the readers of the Musical World, I have determined to forward you a few lines on the subject.
Sig. Mcrelli has arrived here with his Italian Operatic Company, from Berlin, and taken up his quarters at the Theatre Royal do la Monnaie. The first opera 'represented was La Sonnambnla, and Mlle. Adelina Patti was the Amina. The house was crammed long before the rising of the curtain, the most astounding reports of the fair stranger's vocal powers having preceded her arrival. Great was the anxiety manifested to hear ono who may be designated the "girl prima donna," with as much right as Cardinal Wolsey was once dubbed the "boy bachelor," since it required the same amount of precocity in the young lady to achieve at her age the position she holds on the lyric stage, as it did in the Ipswich student to merit, when only fourteen, the title of B. A.
Public expectation was screwed up to fever height, and, in this case, it was not disappointed. In Mile. Patti, Bellini has found an artist worthy of the gentle production of his brain, and one who won all hearts ere she had half got through tho part she selected for her debut before a Belgian audience. All those who have listened to her syren strains declare they never heard a more beautiful, a softer, or a purer voice, a voice which owes more, mayhap, to nature, bounteous source, than to art. She was more especially applauded in the duet of the first act; in the scene of sonnambulism of the second, and in the andante of her grand morceau in the third. I really fancied the public would never be tired of applauding.
Although you in England know all about Mile. Patti's voice and acting, you do not know what the critics here say of them, and therefore I will give you a specimen from the leading journals — the subject being Amina:—"In the two performances of La Sonnambula,"—I forgot, by the way, to inform you that this opera has been given twice — " Mile. Adelina Patti surpassed all the expectations which, with good reason, had been founded on her extraordinary merit and recent reputation. Mile. Patti is a great singer. She belongs to no one school more than another; her singing, full of sympathy and feeling, leaves the old beaten paths far behind. Her style is peculiar to herself; it is impossible to compare it, with justice, to anything ever heard before; she resembles no one, she imitates no one; she is Mile. Patti! Her certainty of execution; the delicacy and purity apparent in all she docs, and, above all, the irreproachable correctness of the whole register of her voice, which is of incredible compass.rcnder her an exception among the artistic celebrities of the day; her prodigious talent astonishes, surprises, captivates; you applaud in spite of yourself,carried away by an irresistible feeling of admiration. If to the preceding qualities, which border on the marvellous, we add the most graceful appearance that ever set off a young girl; beautiful and brilliant black eyes, full of slyness when they are not full of tenderness or grief; an infantine grace, overflowing with charms and wellbred case, and a genuine histrionic talent, delicate, witty, striking, and dramatic, you will have a tolerably complete idea of this fairy of eighteen, whose name is Adelina Patti. Her success, or, as we prefer saying, in order to be nearer the truth, her triumph,was immense. Overwhelmed with marks of approbation and applause, and recalled by the entire audience with a degree of excitement verging upon frenzy, the fair young creature was obliged to come back and repeat the final rondo, besides coming forward once again, after tho fall of the curtain, to receive from our intelligent public a fresh proof of their approbation. Mile. Patti will mark a fresh era in Brussels, as, by the way, she has already done in America, in London and, quite recently in Berlin.
All I hope is (and I could choose a dozen more critiques, on Rosina Lucia, Norina, &c, equally flattering), that these unbounded eulogia will not turn the head of the little "prima donna." Iam told this is unlikely, that, in short, Adelina is not to be spoilt. Taut mieux. R. S.
Regent Street and Piccadilly.
MONDAY POPULAR CONCERTS.
SEVENTY - SIXTH CONCERT, on MONDAY EVENING, February 24, for the.Beneflt.of
Being, most positively, his last appearance this season.
(Mendelssohn)- Song, »
Sonata, ** Ne Plus Ultra," for Pianoforte Solo, Miss Arabella Goddabd (Woclfl).
Part II.—Sonata, in D major, for Pianoforte and Violin. Miss Akaiiella Goddard Mid M. Viri'xtemps (Mozart). Song. " Adelaide," M r. Sim Hervfs (accompanied on the Pianoforte by Miss Arabella Goodardi (Beethoven). Old English Song, "The Oak mid the Ash," Miss Clari Fkasi K (Popular Music of the Olden Time) Quartet, in A, Op. IS, No. 5, for Two Violins, Viola and Violoncello, MM. Vict'XTemps, L. Rin, II. Webb and Piatii (Beethoven).
Conductor, Mr. Benedict. To commence at eight o'clock precisely."
Notice.—It is respectfully suggested that such persons as are not desirous of remaining till the end of the performance can leave either before the commencement of the last Instrumental pi-re, or between any two of the movements, so that those who wish to hear the whole may do so without interruption.
Between the last vocal piece and the Quartet, an interval of Five Minutes will be allowed. The Concert will finish before half-past ten o'clock.
Stalls, 5s.; Balcony, 3s. j Admission, Is. t
Tickets to be had of Mr. AUSTIN, at the Hall, 28 Piccadilly; Ciiappbll Sc Co. 50 New Bond Street, and of the principal M u ■—iters.
fTERR JOACHIM, the celebrated Violinist, will make
.11- his first appearance in London at the Monday Popular Concerts, St. James's Hall, on Monday evening, March 3rd. Sofa stalls, as st Chappbll & Co.'s, 50 New Bond Street.
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% gpttttczd SSSorto.
LONDON: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1 8 6 2.
MRS. BRADSHAW, the once celebrated Miss M. Tree, sister to Mrs. Charles Kean, whose death has this week been recorded, was one of the most popular ballad-singers of her day. The term "ballad-singer," as understood in the olden time, can hardly be estimated at its proper value now. According to the modern acceptation of the word, all our artists are ballad-singers, from Mile. Titiens and Mr. Sims Reeves, downwards, since they are constantly singing simple songs. But these are their exceptional moments, and only go to prove the condescension, or the willingness to oblige, of our first sopranos and first tenors. Formerly
the reputation of vocalists in this country depended almost entirely on their ballad-singing. For that branch alone of vocalisation they were prepared and educated, and they attempted no other style. Nor did their fame suffer because their range was restricted and their efforts limited to one school. That a vast deal may be accomplished in the interpretation of simple, unsophisticated airs, no one will dispute. Miss Stephens, one of the most remarkable singers whom England has produced, owed the greater part of her celebrity to ballad-singing. So did Incledon, Sinclair, Wilson, Mrs. Dickens, &c. Singers like Mrs. Waylett, Miss Byrne, Mr. Pearman, and Miss M. Tree, were indebted for their name altogether to their ballad-singing. Ballads were not only the songs of their predilection, but they had studied them alone, and could excel in no others. The artists had concentrated their mental powers into one focus, wherein was displayed all their strength and brightness. Had Incledon lived in the present day, who could assert that, with all the advantages of modern education, he would have risen superior to what he was when he wrung tears from his audience in "Black-eyed Susan" and "Farewell my trim-built wherry," or threw them into ecstacies in "The Storm" and "The white-blossomed sloe?" Certainly in those days ballads were the sole medium for the expression of sentiment in music. Our composers did not attempt grand operas, like Mr. Balfe and Mr. Wallace, nor operas of the Opera Comique kind, like many of our native musicians.
The real English lyric work for the stage was a ballad-opera, which was little more than a drama with single songs, like the Beggars' Opera, with an occasional duet, trio, or chorus, and now and then, rara avis, a concerted morceau. Henry Bishop, the most successful of our writers of ballad-operas, achieved his principal successes in productions of that kind, and by his genius, made them the chief standard works in the repertory of English lyric theatres. With such beacons before them, doubtless the aim of the English vocalist would be in a great measure to devote his talents to the mastery of ballads. It was that which above all was expected from him, and the accomplishment of which was most deeply appreciated by his hearers. But music made rapid advances as an art and a science, and the public feeling went no longer hand-in-hand with such trite simplicities as ballad-operas. The introduction of Italian and French operas on the English stage lent a distaste to these meagre national concoctions, and some of our composers, fired to emulation by the success of Auber, Rossini, and Mozart at Drury Lane and Covent Garden, essayed to produce an opera after the orthodox model. Mr. John Barnett's Mountain Sylph, we believe, and Mr. Edward Loder's Nourmahal led the way; or, at all events, the reception they obtained from the public impelled other musicians to follow in the same track. Perhaps the greatest blow the ballad-opera received was in the immense success achieved by Mr. Balfe's Siege of Rochelle, which may be said to have revolutionised the English operatic stage.
That the ballad opera was the last remnant of an uninformed taste and a circumscribed education, we think all will admit,— as well as that it was an incontrovertible proof that England, from the days of Dr. Arne, had produced no j great original thinker in operatic writing. Ballad-operas had their uses and influences notwithstanding. From their constitution and the special favouritism bestowed on them sprung the best and purest school of plain singing. No vocalists in the world could sing simple airs like the English; could give them the same unadulterated expression and the same unadorned style; or warble them with richer