Both day and night were filled with music yesterday and most of it was of an admirable kind, admirably performed. In the afternoon Madame Patti sang in the ever‑perennial opera of »Martha« at the Metropolitan Opera House, while Mr. Franz Rummel proclaimed the musical gospel according to Beethoven at the Concert Hall of the Madison Square Garden, and Mr. and Mrs. Henschel sang artistic songs most artistically at Chickering Hall. In the evening there were several musical entertainments, but interest was monopolized by the sixth evening concert of the Symphony Society, under Mr. Damrosch.
Touching the matinees a few words must suffice. Admiration for Madame Patti’s singing in Flotow’s opera is an old story. It is one of the operas in her repertory in which she has always been so unqualifiedly delightful that the voice of criticism has uniformly been pitched in the key of highest praise. Signor Valero fairly shared the honors of the day with her, which circumstance is variously significant. The others in the cast were Signor Novara (Plunket), Madame Fabbri (Nancy), and Signor Carbone (Tristan). This week Madame Patti may be heard on Wednesday evening in »Lucia di Lammermoor,« and on Saturday afternoon in »Il Barbiere di Siviglia,« in which opera Signor Campanini will also sing. The regular Abbey & Grau company will give »Lohengrin« on Monday evening, »Hamlet« on Tuesday evening, »Faust« on Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening.
The interest manifested in the second of Mr. Rummel’s historical recitals was under the circumstances highly complimentary to that excellent, earnest and conscientious artist. A programme of six Beethoven Sonatas (op. 26, 27 No. 2, 53, 57, 110 and 111), enabled him to put forth his powers in a field which is particularly congenial to him and the results were highly gratifying to his admirers. The third of his recitals will take place tomorrow afternoon in the same hall, and the programme will be made up of pieces by Clementi, Hummel, Field, Czerny, Moscheles, Weber and Schubert.
Mr. Damrosch last night produced a novelty calculated to give music students something to think about. It was a tone‑poem, or something of that sort, which for the purpose of greater mystification was entitled »Macbeth« by the composer, Richard Strauss. The obvious ambition of this young man is to take a step beyond Liszt in the field of symphonic music. It is a step made in seven‑leagued boots, and it might be said to be a fair question whether it does not reach some distance beyond the extreme boundary line of music. In view of the amazing changes which have been wrought in popular appreciation, as well as executive capacity, whithin the last fifty years, we have considerable hesitation in saying what we think will be the outcome of such strivings, but so far as the present is concerned it seems to us that »Macbeth« must be set down as a book with seven‑times‑seven seals to the majority of those who heard it last night. It is constructed on the lines of the same composer’s »Don Juan« and »Tod und Verklaerung,« which have been discussed in this journal, but it is more enigmatical than either, thanks to its subject. »Macbeth« sets an extremely difficult problem before the instrumental composer who longs to use it. The familiar device of composers in finding a principal and secondary melodic subjec[t] for their work in the principal male and female characters of the story chosen as a foundation, though followed by Herr Strauss in this case, is of dubious utility. The feminine principle, so useful for purposes of contrast, is wanting in Lady Macbeth as created by the poet, and the incidents of the drama do not bear musical delineation in the manner of Strauss, which rests upon mood and spirit rather than outward conduct. The composition is a most extraordinary one, a phantasmagoria in tones, a bewildering succession of distorted phrases and astounding harmonies, a marvelous series of instrumental effects. Some day the meaning of it may become clear. Mr. Damrosch’s orchestra, which by constant work has developed into an admirable band, played Schumann’s first symphony, the Adagio, and Gavotte arranged for strings by Bachrich for one of Bach’s violin solos, and portions of the third act of »Siegfried.« In these excerpts Mr. Rieger sang Siegfried’s music, and Frau Mielke Bruennhilde’s. The lady was warmly welcomed back to our concert‑rooms, and sang with splendid voice an all‑compelling enthusiasm.