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And when he's bid a liberaller price,
THE MUSIC OF THE MONTH.
The managers of Drury-Lane Theatre have made two attempts to please the public by the production of new old Operas, (the Wager and Leocadea,) highly creditable to them in their present forlorn and desperate circumstances, but, as might naturally be expected, unsuccessful. Not that we mean to say that the music of the latter piece was not bad enough to have succeeded; it would be an injustice to Mr. Barham Livius, the ingenious adapter, if we were to express such an opinion, but it happened, unfortunately, that its badnexx was not of that sort which pleases the public taste. This was the case with an operatic piece, called “ Lilla," arranged by the same gentleman, and produced at Covent-Garden Theatre. The original was a German opera of Weigel, and a more vapid, common-place production, we do not recollect to have heard, (except Tarrare :) the style very Frenchy; the harmony meagre to the last degree, an absolute “living skeleton;" and yet, with all these advantages (to say nothing of a certain jigging time of the chorusses, wrong accentuation, &e.) the piece failed. When a clever musical amateur, like Mr. Livius, takes such extraordinary pains to pervert his own natural good taste in order to indulge a theatrical audience in their own way, the want of success may be to himself very disastrous; and though rather ungrateful in the public to reward his exertions in this way, we can afford him do sympathy, but rather plead guilty to a feeling of pleasure (perhaps demoniacal) in the failure of bad compositions.
We trust our readers will not class us among those crities who think to discover their ingenuity and learning by a constant cavilling at, and abuse of, all the subjects which come under their notice; we honestly confess, that, in our opinion, to praise well, is as much more accordant to our feelings as it is more difficult and more graceful. If from time to time our opinions may appear heterodox and startling, thist may perhaps be considered as a reason for our conviction of their truth; and as on all matters of this sort, writing should be as closely as possible a transcript of the author's feelings on the subject, we shall not hesitate to express our sentiments, because they do not happen to be in the old jog-trot style. It is no less lamentable than true, that very many crying abuses exist in the art of music, and not one of the least is the utter discouragement which is given to a good style of composition at our great Theatres; and though, perhaps, the galleries can
hardly be brought to relish refinement in any way, yet this has doubtless the effect of preventiug many professors, who feel the dignity of their art, from writing for the stage. That which in a proper order of things should have been a source of honour and emolument, has become a degradation—hence the success of charlatans and quacks, people whose musical pulse beat responsively with the dustmen and coalheavers in the shilling gallery. Music is a most divine art, and the feelings to which its more refined excellencies give rise, are among the most profound and exquisite of which we are capable. Who would not rather enjoy the neglect and indifference with which Mozart and Haydn's compositions are heard, than be raised by applauding galleries, to the “ bad eminence” of a Parry or a Watson?
We grow exuberant on a subject in which, as ardent lovers of excellence in the art, our owu pleasures or the contrary are so much concerned, and must return quietly to our task. The new operatic piece “ 'Twas I,” which has been produced at Covent-Garden Theatre, has been very successful; but is, nevertheless, the very climax of stupidity. The music is an instance of what gallery applause will do for a composer, and the illustrious Maestro who fathers it, has been supposed by some to have studied counterpoint under a celebrated Esquimaux composer, whom Captain Parry met with. Whether this statement be actually true or not, the score of “ 'Twas I,” justifies the suspicion.
Mr. Bishop, who has been so long enjoying the otium cum dignitate is, we are informed, forthcoming with a new opera. We shall be anxious to hear this performance, and heartily trust it may revive some of his old attraction; for it is not to be denied that the laurels which this gentleman gained by that pretty melo-drame “ The Miller and his Men," and others of his early compositions, have been gradually fading, and are now almost brown, and one cause of this defect we imagine to have been, that instead of relying on his own resources, he condescended to imitate every popular composer of the day. As the season is now advancing for the opening of the Italian Opera House, and for the Philharmonic Concerts, &c. we hope to hear some good music, of which we shall not fail to acquaint our readers. A great annoyance about the former establishment is, that the musical performances are subject to the interference of a number of noblemen entirely ignorant of the art, and who place a person in the management who must quietly submit to all their foolish caprice and whims. If a clever and intelligent musician were appointed to the situation of director of the music, these noblemen might not find sufficient deference paid to their opinions, and therefore it is judged fittest to have an ignoramus at the head of the management. When Bonaparte once interfered with the composer, Cherubini, in giving him instruction for the performance of the music in the orchestra, the musician told him, that he knew how to fight battles, but he must leave him to direct music. The Emperor, in a momentary fit of anger, deprived him of his situation, but restored him to it the next day.
!: the immense quantity of worthless trash which is issuing from the difereni dusical pulilishers under the denomination of airs with variations, rondos, divertisements, &c. for the piano-forte, it is pleasant to meet with a work from the hand of \!r. J. B, Cramer, Wet ke shame to ourselves for not having earlier noticed the “ Twenty-five characteristic Diversions for the Piano-forte,” of this author, published by Cramer, Addison, and Beale, Regent-street. These exercises are all admirable ; equally calculated to form the hand and taste of those who practice them. The writings of Mr. Cramer have done more to discover the true genius of the piano-forte than those of any other composer whatever. The sonatas of Haydn (in each of which the author has tossed away more invention and contrivance, than any of the moderns can put into a symphony for the orchestra) we view in the light of excellent musical productions rather than developing the peculiar effects of the instrument. Haydn was not a great performer on the piano-forte, and therefore this is not matter of surprise. Mr. Cramer is, to our taste, so far removed beyond all the performers on this instrument, that praise applied to him is superfluous. To the greatest power of execution, he unites a musical mind of rare occurrence: for a proof of the former, let any one hear bim play his concertos in D minor; and for the latter we would refer our readers to the “ Studio per il Piano-forte.” Mr. Cramer, in common with all great musicians, is deeply imbued with a fine organ feeling, both in his compositions and performance. His superstructions on a pedal base are always particularly admirable, preserving the character of the instrument in the sprinkling of the notes and the distribution of the intervals ; while the solidity of the harmonies seems to require an organ to do them justice. We earnestly recommend those of our readers who study the piano-forte, to abjure the works of Czerny, Kalkbrenner, Potter, Griffin, &c. and to practise the compositions of Cramer, Clementi, and Hummel. These Diversions will form an introduction to the “ Studio," and this last to the Preludes and Fugues of Sebastian Bach. The force of writing can no further go; having reached the works of Sebastian Bach, the student is at the well-spring from which all harmony flows, and we advise him “ to drink deep ere he depart.” In the“ Diversions” which form the subject of this notice, the author has been peculiarly happy in the names which he has given to the different exercises ; and one in particular, which he calls “ The Gilded Toy” is a fine, and to a musician, truly laughable satire upon the modern style of adagio performance. "To us this had long appeared a fit subject for ridicule; and Mr. Cramer has, with much humour, hit off the character of these ludicrous and extravagant exhibitions without being chargeable with gross caricature. In the time of Haydn and Mozart, to write a fine adagio movement was considered the perfection of the art; the ideas in that style of movement requiring more grandeur, the melodies more elegance and grace, and the harmonies more refinement than those of any other species of musical composition. All these requisites are now, from the higher pitch of cultivation at which the art stands, found unnecessary; and if we listen to an adagio of these times, we shall find the performer, after striking a chord two or three times in the third or fourth bar, making a skirmish from one end of the instrument to the other: for what reason, it passes our poor understanding to guess; then, after repeatedly striking one note, we shall perhaps be favoured with a rapid succession of triplets, and then, a chromatic descent from the top of the instrument to the bottom; and then, ditto reversed. Without exaggeration, this is a pretty fair statement of the materials with which a modern adagio movement is constructed; and so gross a perversion of the real excellencies of this style of composition, was first calculated to raise the musician's indignation, and afterwards naturally his laughter. To this we owe Mr. Cramer's delightful jeud'esprit. We are not to blame if composers for the piano-forte imagine that the elegance of a slow movement consists in writing fifty or sixty notes more in a bar than they are allowed by the time. Those little hurried passages which we find in the slow movements of Haydn and Nozart are all conceived in a fine taste, and serve as ornaments to some beautiful melody; but piano-forte performers, in imitating this, have fancied that the charm lay in the crowd of notes, and not in the manner of using them. Indeed, the modern refinement in piano-forte playing will not admit of such a clog upon its fine airy flights as time or accent; every thing is to be done in the style of a fantasia; it must never be discovered that the music is distributed with a certain quantity to a bar; any marking of a distinct time or accent is too mechanical for the astonishing performers of the present day. This is in a hideous taste; the consequence of it is, that we ve no performer on the piano-forte worth hearing except Cramer and Moscheles; and this last, though a good musician, and perfect master of the mechanical difficulties of his instrument, lacks much of the perception of beauty which we find in the other. In the whole range of professors of different instruments, we shall not find any who have discovered so little talent as those who study the piano-forte: either by innate stupidity in the performer, or want of perception in us, we seldom hear a piano-forte concerto which is not completely disgusting. shall take leave of these “ Characteristic Diversions,” strongly recommending them, not only on the score of useful practice, but as delightful specimens of composition for the instrument. J. B. Cramer is one of those happy spirits to whom it is allotted to scatter grace and beauty on whatever their minds are employed. The good which the “Studio” has done in advancing the powers of execution in piano-forte performers is incalculable; the mind is the only thing which we regret cannot be transferred.
Of Clementi and Co.'s late publications we have to notice Raondo by Adams, for the organ or piano-forte; the subject from Rossini's “ Di tanti palpiti.” “ The Church of England, morning and evening Service, containing Psalm Tunes, and first and last Voluntary" &c. by Blewitt: and the “ Overtures and Airs from Il Crociato in Egitto, arranged as Duets for two performers on the piano-forte," by Attwood. Of the first of these we can only say that Mr. Adams has done as much as could be done with a very bad subject for organ treatment; or indeed, treatment of any kind. The only objection to the compositions of this gentleman is, that they are generally too difficult for any fingers but those of professed musicians; and they are not likely to be attracted by such a subject as he has chosen for the present composition. All Mr. Adams's productions are ingenious, but to us they want the charm of polished melody: they however always discover the good musician. Mr. Blewitt's Organ Service, we believe, is intended chiefly for the Sunday evening recreation of amateurs; and as such, may be found pleasing. Any tendency to increase the practice of organ music should be encouraged; it is the source of all good taste in the art. Mayerbeer
is the musical idol, which that many-headed beast, the town" worships at present, and Mr. Attwood has kindly furnished us with some of "Il Crociato in Egitto," arranged as ducts for the piano-forte. This new operatic composer is too much of the Rossini school to please our bad taste; and the only peculiar feature of these duets is the extraordinary text which accompanies the music. Over some bars of this piano-forte arrangement we are informed that it is descriptive of the “labour of the slaves, in drawing and raising stones for the buildings:" again, we have “ strokes of the mallet of the other slaves in preparing the stones for building:" again, “a youth supports his aged father,” &c. &c. All this in a piano-forte adaptation is very ridiculous; if Mr. Attwood can, by a series of musical notes bring before our imagination an Irish labourer raising a hod of mortar to the top of a house, it is really more than we thought the art was capable of; and we wish him joy of the discovery.
Some interesting publications from the Catalogue of Messrs. Boosey and Co., the foreign musical publishers, we must defer noticing till next month.
A HINT TO WHIST PLAYERS.
WE,-(I and my constant partner, in love and whist-have had a long run latterly, like the bankers, of ill luck.-Night after night,for the cards are of as regular occurrence, as our Hyson,—we have lost an average half dozen of rubbers, without the set-off of one single point against the score.
Probably, it may be hinted here, that we are no adepts,—and it would not become me to speak in contradiction.— I confess willingly, on my own behalf, that I am not a Hoyle,—yet, such as we are, jointly, we have overcome players of high repute. Not unto ourselves,—but to propitious Fortune we attributed those victories—and now, under our own reverses, we claim to complaiv, as the “Dabs" did, of a partial dispensation. I can put up with an occasional bad card-hand, as Job-like as any
A sorry, solitary deuce of trumps, now and then, does not put me beside my tenour. I can go trumpless even once, twice, or thrice, without an imprecation.--I can sort, without pouting, some thirteen rabble-cords, and endure, as heroically as Briglitelmstone tradesfolk, a temporary privation of king and court favour.-It would be strange if the losses and crosses I have suffered in human dealings, had not taught me philosophy to endure any reasonable proportion of Whist adversity. If I can reckon up without fretting, the niggardly balances that are made out to me by my bookseller,-I may surely, without chafing, tell over a beggarly account of pips.
My gentle ally—as her mild, placid countenance might rouch forexceeds me in resignation. She is the last Whist player in the world to be put out by a fair average of mishaps--but the repeated frowns of fortune-fickle, alas ! no more, but against us perversely constant, have ruffed even my meek partner. The acute mischance may be got