|Sullivan > Major Works > Jenny Lind Concert
A very interesting concert was given on Wednesday night by Mr. Arthur S. Sullivan, whose programme, besides containing vocal and instrumental compositions by himself, was otherwise extraordinarily attractive. Mr. Santley sang pieces by Gounod and Sullivan, and sang as he always sings; but the extraordinary attraction was not Mr. Santley. Mdlle. Mehlig played J. S. Bach’s concerto in C minor, for two pianofortes, with Mr. Franklin Taylor, and the Recollections of Ireland, by Moscheles, as a solo; but although she played brilliantly, and though, at the end of her second performance, there was a loud call for the venerable composer, who was known to be in the room, and who responded to the call with all the alacrity of years gone by, the extraordinary attraction was neither Mdlle. Mehlig nor Herr Moscheles, nor was it Mr. Cummings and Miss Edith Wynne who sang a lovely duet from Mr. Sullivan’s Kenilworth, and joined Mr. Santley in a trio. Nor was it even the new symphony in E of Mr. Sullivan, of the performances of which, at the Crystal Palace and St. James’s-hall (by the Musical Society of London), we spoke at the time, and which, though hardly so well played as at the Crystal Palace, under Herr Manns, was liked more than ever, and found more than ever Mendelssohnian.
The extraordinary attraction was neither more nor less than Madame Lind-Goldschmidt – “Jenny Lind.” Not only is there magic still in that name, but there is magic still in that voice; and the occasions, few and far between, which the lovers of music have enjoyed of hearing this most accomplished artist – “greatest of all singers in all styles,” as Mendelssohn said of her – since she formally took leave of the public, are seized upon with avidity. Madame Lind-Goldschmidt sang four pieces on Wednesday night, and the audience, thoroughly enchanted, would fain have listened with satisfaction to every one of the four pieces twice. Madame Goldschmidt, however, received the enthusiastic tribute to her genius with the dignified affability of one who, knowing her own worth, is at the same time pleased at the recognition of it; but she was content to give each piece set down for her in the programme once – wherein she set an example which others might imitate with advantage. Her first songs were two by Mr. Sullivan – “Sweet day,” a setting of some verses “altered from George Herbert,” and the Shakespeare song, “Orpheus with his lute made trees,” which it has been several times our agreeable task to praise. Mr. Sullivan accompanied these himself on the pianoforte, and so enjoyed a special opportunity of judging what effect could be made out of his music by the most perfect singing – perfect alike in expression and in vocalization.
But great as she was in Sullivan, Madame Lind-Goldschmidt was still greater in Handel. How she can sing the music of Il Pensieroso in general, and the recitative and air, “Sweet bird,” in particular, amateurs were made aware, not very long since, at a concert in St. James’s-hall. Nothing more engaging, nothing more earnest, nothing more dramatic can be imagined. On Wednesday night, if possible, her delivery of this picturesque scena (in which, by the way, the important flute obbligato part was admirably sustained by Mr. A. Wells, of the Crystal Palace orchestra) exhibited more poetical feeling and more consummate technical skill than when we last heard it. The shakes, in one or two instances, were prolonged almost out of measure, but then they were so faultless – so close, so “pearly,” and so beautifully rounded off – that to complain would have been hypercritical. Almost equal in interest to her “recital” of Handel’s scene was Madame Goldschmidt’s simple, unaffected, and touchingly beautiful reading of the “old English ditty,” called “The Three Ravens” – of which the Russian poet, Puschkin, has published a translation in the form of an original. Such ballad-singing – so unpretending and at the same time so thoroughly finished – is rare; and the applause that followed was as hearty, spontaneous, and unanimous as that awarded to the more marvellous execution of the great air from Il Pensieroso.
The concert opened with Professor Sterndale Bennett’s beautiful overture Die Naiaden; the first part ended with an overture to an MS. opera (The Sapphire Necklace) by Mr. Sullivan; and the whole terminated with the “brisk dance” from his Kenilworth – all of which pieces were extremely well played by the very fine orchestra under the direction of the concert-giver.
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