The series of Steinert concerts opened auspiciously yesterday afternoon with the concert of the New York Philharmonic Society in Symphony Hall. Usually concerts in Boston attract no large audiences unless the performer be an Italian singer or a Russian violinist but the number present yesterday at a really brilliant concert showed that Boston has also its music lovers. Thus does the Steinert management continue its tradition of excellence.
The purely orchestral portion of the program traversed Tschaikowsky's Pathetique Symphony and the Prelude and Liebestod from "Tristan and Isolde"; the assisting artists were Mme. Antoinette Szumowska, who played the Second Chopin Concerto, and Mr. Joseph Schwarz who sang arias from Haendel's "Israel in Egypt" and Verdi's "Ballo in Masshera" and "Wotan's Abschied" from "Die Walkuere."
Comparison of the Orchestra with that of Boston is inevitable. While the New York band has a much fresher and more limpid tone in the strings, the wind section, especially the brass is harsh and rough. Mr. van Hoogstraten is clear and incisive, a conductor of compelling dynamics and deep insight. His reading of the symphony was especially capable and muscianly, his interpretation of the third movement (allegro molto vivace) a triumph although it seems to us that he missed much of the flowing grace of the Allegro congrazia. The rather bombastic finale seems an anticlimax to the truly masterful third movement. The symphony however deserves to be heard much more frequently.
Mme Szumowska played the Chopin concerto with facile technique and sympathetic understanding. Especially poetic was her rendition of the Larghetic. Countless soprani have made us look for a different type of voice in the singer of Haendel to that of Mr. Schwarz. In the aria of Verdi and in "Wotans Abschied", however, his voice, a warm dramatic baritone, found its true medium of expression and the latter especially he sang with a fire and understanding truly excellent. It is to be regretted that the orchestra in accompanying him in this last played the Fire Music so poorly. It hurried through the music, cutting off the arpeggios as if it were too anxious to come to the end of a concert already protracted which had undoubtedly been a great strain on the players.
On the whole, the concert was by far the most interesting we have attended this season and deserved fully the applause of an audience that filled Symphony Hall.