Although the Philharmonic Concerts are sustained by so warm a sympathy that they need no commendation of ours, yet interest in the cause of Art, and the diffusion of just sentiments as to its expression, impel us to utter the satisfaction we felt in the performances of this Society last Saturday evening. From them are heard music worthy the admiration of any mind, and performed with a degree of perfection worthy a great metropolis. It was such music as we hoped to find in New-York, where there are many persons educated where the Fine Arts have already attained their perfection, and where there is also an influx of well-educated musicians, if any where in this country.
The orchestra, composed of more than fifty instruments, is truly excellent, both as to gradation and arrangement, and the skill of individual performers. The effect of the music is, therefore, delicate, mellow, spiritual; no rude masses of sound, no clang; but flexibility and fulness alike delighted the ear and the soul.
The audience, too, was a sympathetic audience, both in its stillness and its applause. There were no rustlings of paper and whisperings, so prolonged as to lose the introductory strains, on hearing which intelligence of composition should be grounded.
Almost every piece was well performed in its own kind. The symphony of Haydn gave us great pleasure, and of a kind to which we have become unaccustomed. We had so long been intoxicated and upborne by the passions and prolonged inspirations of that god of modern music, Beethoven, or stunned by the noisy marvels produced by the merely talented composers, that music so bright, so serene, so youthful and unadulterated, came upon us as sweetly as it might to open the window from some great picture-gallery and step out into a fresh green field.
In all the movements of this symphony, we enjoyed seeing the forms to which we are accustomed in the simpler, clearer outline of an earlier day. The minuet was really a minuet in its thought and form. The composition by Spohr gave us some idea of his music, which we never attained from hearing it more imperfectly performed. This composition was full of grace and dignity; it showed a great knowledge of harmony; but there was also melody, which is surely the heart of music.
The clarionet was played with great beauty. We hope to hear the same performance repeated. The vocal part was unworthy the instrumental. The quartette was an entire failure. Mrs. Loder sings in a good style; whether she can ever fill that room so as to satisfy the ear, we do not know, as she had that night a severe cold.
We are very desirous to hear Beethoven’s Seventh and Fifth Symphonies from this orchestra, also some music from Mozart.
One terrible drawback upon the pleasures of the evening we could not have expected with an audience capable of appreciating an entertainment so refined. We refer to the atmosphere produced by an entire want of proper means of ventilation, which during the last half hour seemed to taint the very music as it flowed. Americans are such devout imitators of England in every thing else, it is pity they should omit it solely in this respect. We are so well aware of the horror of fresh air prevalent in this country, having seen those who need it generally shunned more than if they showed symptoms of hydrophobia, that we have become very timid in speaking on the subject; yet, as there are to be two more concerts, and there is, this time, a good deal of pleasure at stake, would it be too much to ask for the insertion of one or two moveable panes, very near the tops of the windows? If the audience would only try it, we think they would find it is pleasanter for hundreds of people to have some means of breathing, while listening together to music!
In concluding, let us say more distinctly why we felt so much satisfaction at hearing something so truly good in its way. It was not merely that we enjoyed sweet feelings and intellectual exhilaration, but because, knowing that it is the office of the beautiful arts to remind man of what he ought to be, by giving back to him, in worthy forms, the aspirations of his better hours, anything that is done, in this spirit, instead of flattering corrupt taste for the sake of money or success, seems to us a focal point of light and heat, the earnest of general good, and the stimulus to its attainment.
“Music in New-York.” New-York Daily Tribune, 18 January 1845, p. 2.