As in consequence of illness we were unable to attend Mr. Fontana’s Concert on Saturday evening we have requested the following notice from an able critic:*
We heard this new Pianist on Saturday evening, and do not hesitate in ranking him among the very first Artists. He confined himself entirely to the new and fashionable school of Liszt and Thalberg, and exhibited all the force and dazzling brilliancy of this difficult Music.—His performance struck us as uniting a wonderful finish with the most delicate feeling. Nor was it wanting in great and powerful effects. In his whole manner there was a total absence of every thing like trick and ostentatious display, a self-sustained and artist-like dignity which seemed wholly unambitious of applause. It may be thought perhaps that the Serenade performed by the left hand alone, might be objected to as an exception to the justice of the criticism. But then it should be remembered that one part of the vocation of the new school Pianist is to show how much may be done with the least amount of manual capacity. Since Paganini achieved such wonders on one string of the violin, other virtuosos may be allowed sometimes to exhibit their digital skill.
The three Fantasias, the first on some very striking Spanish airs, composed by himself, the second on the Finale of Lucia di Lamermoor, by Liszt, and the last on the Huguenots, by Thalberg, were all executed with great perfection. This music dazzles and bewitches, but is apt to weary and confuse the hearer, if indulged in too long. It is the music of embellishment and costume, which seems to be a strong tendency in all art at the present day. The simplicity of a theme is almost lost sight of in the profusion of ornament. It is like a succession of tableaux acted in successive dresses of more or less magnificence by the same beautiful forms.
Still let us acknowledge the beauties even of an outward and elaborate skill, with this special observance, that the freshness of the artist’s inspiration be not corrupted by an ambition to overcome difficulties and show how far his fingers can emulate the lightning.
With all deference to the brilliant school whom Mr. Fontana has so beautifully illustrated, and with sincere admiration of the performer’s abilities, we still trust that if he stays among us, he will take for his motto sometimes ‘paulo majora canemus,’ and introduce the public to the deeper works of those whom even Liszt and Thalberg venerate as Masters.C.P.C.
“Mr. Fontana,” New-York Daily Tribune, 6 January 1846, p. 2.