The second of the series of Symphony Concerts, given in Sanders Theatre was attended by a rather large and enthusiastic audience. The large number of people present and the great enthusiasm were both due in great part doubtless to the presence of the famous soloist Mme. Nordica, though the orchestra, always appreciated, did not fail to receive its share of the applause. All the selections of the evening were given with the precision and accuracy which have always characterized the work of the Boston Symphony orchestra. The interest was kept up successfully till the last number, which seemed hardly up to the high standard of the rest of the programme. Nevertheless the concert as a whole was a decided success.
The first number on the programme was Mendelssohn's Overture "Hebrides." The work opens with the introduction of a theme which is repeated, again and again, by different instruments, a sort of answering from the wood instruments to the brass. In the middle is introduced a duet for clarionet with a soft accompaniment by the rest of the orchestra. At the end of each variation of the main theme the whole orchestra works up to a climax so that the effect of the whole on the hearer is that of repeated strokes which die away so quietly that their frequency is not unpleasant.
The second number, an "Aria" by Gounod, "La Reine de Saba," was effectively rendered by Mme. Nordica. The piece is quiet throughout, with little chance for dramatic display. The soloist had an admirable conception of the selection and though she did not show herself to such advantage in it as in the more dramatic and stirring song "The Erl King," yet her rendering was appreciated, for she had to appear three times before the audience ceased their applause.
Tschaikowsky's Suite, the third number, was finely given throughout. The first movement opens with a theme by the flutes, which is taken up by the whole orchestra, and developed into an intricate maze of short phrases worked to a climax and ending, then, quietly, in a soft passage. The second movement is odd in every way, even in its name, "Valse Melancholique," itself a seeming contradiction. The waltz time is sustained but the music is rather funereal than bright. The third movement, the exact opposite of the second, is a "scherzo." There is no regular theme, but an entanglement of a lot of minor ideas which produce no impression but that of confusion. The final movement, a theme with variations, is a technical work of little interest to the ordinary hearer.
Mme. Nordica was heard to better advantage in the fourth number, "The Erl King," which gave much more opportunity for the dramatic power which she possesses than her first selection. This piece illustrates the highest ideal in musical writing, the representation of an idea in such musical terms that the idea is seen through the music without hearing the words. The picture which the composer had in mind is suggested by the music. This time the soloist was forced to appear four times before the audience were satisfied.
The fifth number, the overture "Euryanthe," by Weber, seemed rather below the rest of the programme, if not in point of musical worth, at least in popularity. The enthusiasm flagged at this piece, but the concert which it ended was undeniably one of the best yet given in Cambridge.