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RICHTER CONCERT AT CARDIFF. Wales and Wagner have been strangers too long. In a country notable for the pure melodies that spring spontaneously from the harp, prejudices have grown up around the name cf the great musical innovator. He has been looked upon as the arch-enemy of the pastoral melodies which form so conspicuous a feature of Welsh music; but the people of the Principality have hitherto had no opportunity of properly weighing Wagner's claims or of properly judging his music. The concert given at the Park Hall, Cardiff, on Wednesday evening, by Dr. Hans Richter and his orchestra, was, there- fore, of national significance. Let us hope that it heralded the complete white-washing of Richard Wagner. The audience at the Park Hall was representative of musical Wales in general, and of its two great centres, Swansea and Cardiff, in particular. To the greater portion of the audience the real Wagner was a. revelation. He was no longer a man of sounding brass and cymbal, mtent upon substituting for our cherished melodies some weird, fantastic creations for over-charged orchestras. Rather was he the man of thrilling themes and ramatic truth. There was wonderful majesty in the chromatic passages for the horns and ^U'r|^>e 8' was a new charm in the sound o e wo -wind and brass instruments, a full- ness and purity which only Beethoven could ap- proach. Dr. Richter is, perhaps, the best in- terpreter of Wagner that we have and from the unisonal passage for the bassoons and horns with the tremolo violin aecompaniment-sug- gesting the curse on the Flying Dutchman-that opened the concert, right through the recurring themes of Wagner's great works until the mighty inspiration and rhythm of the closing theme to the Tannhiiuser overture was reached the audience was held spell-bound. It was fortunate that three epoch-marking examples of Wagner s compositions were' given-the" Flying Dutchman" overture his earliest work in his particular vein;' the "Tannhauser" overture, which indicates so unmistakably the trend of the composer's dramatic development; and the prelude to that most beautiful and most perfect of all his works, "Tristan und Isolde." Each of these was magnificently rendered. There was no mistak- ing the roar and hiss of the storm, or the wail of the wind in the cordage, in the "Flying Dutch- man" overture. And in beautiful contrast was the andante theme (pianissimo) which directly followed this stormy opening—a phrase full of tender pity; or the jovial song of the Dutch boatmen. The prelude to Tristan und Isolde," in which love's longing for self-sacrifice rings out with unexampled vehemence, was a masterpiece of orchestral conducting. The whole piece seemed stirred by some tragic breath, passing and re-passing. There were passion, emotion, and frenzy in the whirlwind of harmony, in the changing keys and rhythm. "The Ride of the Walkyries was another piece of vivid tone-poetry, and the Funeral March from the" Gotterdammerung" was broadly and restrainedly given. The Tannhauser" overture was a fitting close to the concert. The solemn tones of the pardoned pilgrim theme which opened it; the figure of a Bacchanalian dance flaunting merrily above the sounds of revelry the themes rushing headlong as if in some abandoned dance the voluptuous beauty of the hymn to Venus and, finally, the pilgrim theme repeated, with its great realisation of hope and joyous exultation—these, interpreted by the friend and pupil of Wagner, should give to all who were present at the concert some idea of the great composer's aims and methods. To all these Wagner pieces, Richter, by the vitality of his accent and his masterly sense of rhythm, and by his firm, unmistakeably-majestic climaxes, did a justice which no other conductor can equal. But Wagner did not occupy the whole of the programme. Tschaikowsky had his share, in the exuberance of his Slavonic inspiration. The example of his work chosen was the Symphony Pathetique" in four movements. Tschaikowsky was a genius but it takes him an unconscionably long time to express what he wants to, and after all there is not so much emotional depth in the work as the qualifying title would lead US to suppose. The first movement is supposed to suggest the doubts and the storm and stress of a restless, heroic soul, whose lofty aspira- tions are opposed by a cruel fate. There was calm resignation in the coda which, based upon descending scale passages, brought the movement to a close. The second movement (the allegro con grazia) — whose persistent quintuple rhythm suggests the dallying of this selfsame heroic soul with the sweets of life—was the prettiest in the work, and with this Richter did a somewhat extraordinary thing—almost as exceptional, in its way, as the movement itself, which is couched in 5-4 time. In such a move- ment one would have thought that the conductor would take all the more care. But no Richter let his well-trained men go. The baton was laid aside and only the eye would indicate the exact point of entry of the various instruments. And the movement was wonderfully played and wonderfully pretty. The third movement has pretentions to the heroic, opening. with quaver triplets, and pursuing its way amid changes of key and long rushing passages of ascending and descending scales back once more to the key in which it began—this is Tschaikowsky's conception of heroic deeds. The last movement is ineffably sad, but even here there is no great strength of emotion. Tschaikowsky is great but he is far too long. The measure of Dr. Richter and his orchestra's mastery over the symphony can be gauged from his treatment of the second movement. The concert was a great success, and we must hope to hear this greatest of modern orchestras in Wales again.







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