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It was only fitting that the death of one so closely connected with this institution as Sir Arthur Sullivan should be commemorated by a concert of his works, and it is gratifying to record that a large audience attended the concert conducted by Mr. Manns on Saturday afternoon.
The Crystal Palace has changed a good many of its ideals, and has sadly altered its position in relation to art, since the day when it was the scene of the first of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s many triumphs – the performance of his music to The Tempest in 1862, shortly after the young composer’s return from Leipzig. As the programme was divided into two parts, sacred and secular respectively, the selection from this earliest work came at the beginning of the second part; it included the overture to Act IV, the “Banquet Dance,” and the “dance of Nymphs and Reapers.”
The incidental music to Henry VIII and The Merchant of Venice was also drawn upon, although one of the finest of the composer’s early works, Kenilworth, was unrepresented. It seemed almost a pity that no single composition was played in its entirety except the In Memoriam overture, with which the concert opened; the revival of a selection from the Festival Te Deum in honour of the Prince of Wales’s recovery in 1872 was suitable, and the Crystal Palace Choir did excellently in the final chorus, the allusions to the tune “St. Anne” coming out with great effect.
The Martyr of Antioch was represented by solos well sung by Mme. Eleanor Jones and Mr. Gregory Hast; and in the extract from The Golden Legend Mme. Bertha Rossow sang the solo in the ensemble, “The night is calm,” in a pleasing manner. The choir was admirable in the evening hymn, and they sang “O hush thee, my baby,” (sic) with a good deal of taste.
The single songs were chosen with more regard to their popularity with the public at various times than to their musical merit; room should certainly have been found for “Orpheus with his lute,” or for some of the “Window” cycle, rather than for such deservedly forgotten ballads as “Let me dream again,” even if “The Lost Chord” was inevitable. In this Miss Hélène Valma’s fine voice found a good opportunity, though her phrasing was not always beyond reproach.
Mr. Andrew Black got a well-deserved encore for the Templar’s song in Ivanhoe. The selections from the Savoy operas were kept for a popular concert in the evening; otherwise, if the desire of the director had been to present the late composer in the most favourable light, such a little masterpiece as the burlesque Greek chorus in The Grand Duke should have found a place.
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