excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 298-9 (496 words)

excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 298-9 (496 words)

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Musical letters from Abroad

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In a recent letter, we spoke of the different choral societies in London. Public performances by some one of them are very frequent; so frequent indeed, that we can find time for only now and then one. The first for the season was by the "Sacred Harmonic Society," under Mr. Costa, and consisted of a selection from "Samson," by Handel, Mendelssohn's "Christus," "The Last Judgment," by Spohr. The death of the illustrious Duke gave a tinge to all the earlier concerts, and the "Dead March" in Saul was in constant requisition. On the present occasion, the selection from "Samson" consisted of the air, "Ye Sons of Israel," "Dead March," and chorus, 

"Glorious hero, may thy grave 
Peace and honor ever have." 

The "Christus" by Mendelssohn, seems to be very popular, both among the singers and hearers. The chorale, "As bright the Star of Morning gleams," one of the best German chorales, and one that is very often heard in their churches, is brought in with fine effect after the chorus, "There shall a Star of Jacob come forth." Mendelssohn is always great in such choruses as "He stirreth up the Jews," "Crucify Him," and others in which he depends mostly upon orchestral effect, and in which he carries out his ideas of imitation or description with all the powers of modem instrumentation. 

Spohr's oratorio was well given, the Gresham Professor himself being judge; for we had the honor of a seat by his side, and of listening to his remarks during the perormance. Mr. Taylor was the first to bring out Spohr in England. "Die letzten Dinge," or "The Last Things," (which is a much better title for the oratorio than the one it now bears,) was composed about twenty-five years ago. It accidently came into the hands of Prof. Taylor, who translated the words, and first brought it out at the Norwich Festival in 1830. Since then it has been a standard oratorio, and is often performed. Prof. Taylor says: "It at once seized the public attention, and commanded the admiration of the most distinguished professors of every school. Its influences upon the feelings of an audience has been attested by expressions more decided and unequivocal than I ever remember to have witnessed. I speak not of the admiration which the musician derives from such a display of the power and the resources of his art, but of the homage which nature, though musically untutored, involuntarily yet willingly pays to genius. The throbbing heart, the moistening eye, the quivering lip, here bespeak the triumph of the composer." The solo parts were sustained by Mrs. Endersohn, Miss Williams, Mr. Lockey and Mr. Phillips. 

We cannot enter into the detail of this performance; suffice it to say, that it afforded some of the best specimens of solo, quartet and chorus singing which we have ever heard. It was performed with admirable promptitude and exactness, as is everything else that is brought under the bâton of Mr. Costa.

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excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 298-9 (496 words)


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