WITH the commencement of the Italian Opera and the Philharmonic Concerts the musical season may be said to begin ; and this year they were nearly coincident, the first Philharmonic concert having been on Monday. We regretted to see the evidence of a still further decrease in the number of subscribers, in the comparatively scanty attendance ; although this was an event which we not only looked forward to but predicted. The causes of decline were only partially palpable, but they were not the less fatal in their operation. When a regard to the interests of the Society (in which, to a certain extent, are bound up the interests of the art) induced us, several years since, to expose and to censure the spirit in which its concerns of were administered, to urge the necessity of reform, and to point out the means by which it should be effected and the existence of the Philharmonic thus perpetuated, our predic- tions were derided and our motives questioned. We then said, "Wait —a few years will decide the correctness or otherwise of our antici- pations, and the soundness of our advice." Few years have elapsed, and the melancholy truth now stands revealed. While however, it is generally admitted that the chief cause of decline is While, 'within, it cannot be denied that external causes have operated to this end. The Philharmonic Society for many years had a monopoly of the instru- mental market—it had no rival. This is no longer the case : another society, once, by comparison, contemptible, is now grown into a formi- dable competitor. We hinted last year at the game LAPORTE would pro- bably play when he found the Philharmonic sufficiently weakened and humbled. That time seems to be now arrived ; and accordingly the Opera band and Opera singers are inlisted in the service of a rival
Sitdunia, No. 1 BEETHOVEN.
Duca., Memlames VILLoWEN, " Vanne se alberghi " (Andnmirs) E liCADANTI. Concerto Violin, I) Mithq, MT. 13LA011ovE
Trio, Me.tianies V11.1.0W EN and Miss MAssoN, Night's ling' ring bit:ides " (Azor and Zemira) SPORE. Overture, Yeti./ (first tint/. of perIonnanee) Itmsstors. Leath r, Mr. S. CILANIER—Cunductor, 5fr. PorrEn.
The new Sinfonia of SPOIIR excited more interest than any piece that followed it ; since of all living writers SPOIIR alone seems able to produce a composition of this class that is destined to live : and it is, in all respects, a work worthy of his great genius. Of the various move- ments, we prefer the andante and the conclusion. The former is one of his most lovely melodies, enriched with a texture of harmony so rich and captivating that the attention is for ever kept alive, and at first hearing on the stretch, so varied and so abundant are its graces. The principal subject of the last movement is similar to one which had been previously used by 3Iozater and BEETHOVEN, but treated by SPOHR in his own peculiar and masterly style. The perfect unity of design which pervades the entire movement, stamps it as the work of egreat mind, while the endless variety of combination in the treatment of this and the subordinate subjects, exhibits the fertility of its author's re- sources. Over the orchestra he has supreme power ; in every form of employment he knows how to use it to the best advantage ; and there IS not a single instrument but has throughout an important part to sus- bin. Like SPoun's other Symphonies, and we may add those of BEETHOVEN which most emphatically indicate their author's originality of thought, this composition was not received by the audience, at a first hearing, with a burst of enthusiasm. The majority of the Philhar- monic hearers must first ascertain whether they may safely commit themselves to applaud a composition of which they are imperfect judges, before they venture on so bold a step. BEETHOVEN'S Concerto in C major, by no means one of his best, was respectably played by BENNETT. Much more may justly be said of the execution of Bona's Concerto by FiLisonovu ; although the merits of the composition are but slender. The Overture to Yelva ought to have been heard long since, as it has long since been published, and is a composition worth the hearing. It only served, on the present occa- sion, to play out the few bearers who lingered through the second act.
• establishment, in which there are no conflicting interests and dirty cabals, but where all is under the direction of a single mind. The nightly Instrumental Concerts at the English Opera-house have also tended to break down the existing monopoly : for here many of the same pieces were performed, and with the assistauce of the same indi- viduals, or others of not far inferior talent. The Quartet Concerts, offsets from the parent tree, have absorbed some of its nourishment. And there are many amateur fiddlers, former frequenters of the Phil- harmonic, who now enjoy, or think they enjoy, greater pleasure by social scrapings. These various competitors ought to have induced in the members of the original establishment increased vigilance, increased energy, and a fixed determination to maintain the position they once held. They have chosen the opposite course, and the lamentable result appears.
The changes in the orchestra this year are few and unimportant. The principal performers are, for the most part, better qualified for their places than any of their contemporaries, with one signal excep- tion—BAUMANN, whose bassoon-playing is a positive nuisance. The arrangement of the band (an experiment, as we conceived on the trial- night) is, unfortunately, persisted in, and the "balance of power" com- pletely upset. The stringed bass instruments are scattered and thrown back ; and instead of the firm foundation, the crisp tone, the distinct articulation, which were the consequence of their former situations, we have neither the one nor the other Smothered behind the phalanx of violins, violas, and wind instruments, their support is feeble, their tone fuzzy, and their power insufficient. The acute instruments—always sure of a hearing—arc now thrust to the very front edge of the orchestra, and the brass instruments so placed as to drown every other sound.
But it is time that we turn to the scheme of Monday night.
Sinfonia. No. 5 (first time of performance) SpOHR. Duetto, Mi,Lnim, VII,LowEN and Madame VILtowEN CAToN, (their tinit perrormance in England,) " La Serenata," with Pianoforte Accompaniment ROSSINI. Coucetto. Pianoforte, in C :Mum% Mr. BF:NNETT BEETHOVEN.
Song, Mine 51 AK`ON, " The sea bath pearly treasures."
with Horn Obligati), Mr. JAIME= 1,AouNru. Overture, Eurgahthe C. M. VON WEBER. Two Parisian ladies named VILLOWEN made their English data on Monday evening. We learn that they are highly accomplished women, driven to the public display of their musical talents as a resource under various calamities which they have been called to sustain. The know. ledge of these facts deprives us both of the will and the power to cell, sure, if we were so disposed ; and it ought to have induced the Direc. tors to give them at least fair play. They are disciples of the French school of singing ; of which, it is well known, we are no admirers ; hut, having been allowed to sing, they ought (like Madame DORUS GRAS)
to have sung French music. This, however, is directly opposed to the usual practice of the Directors ; which, wherever possible, assigns to a
singer some unsuited composition—Rossi:sr to PHILLIPS and lionns, SPORR to Madame BALFE, and so on. The Duet "La Serenata," from a set of ROSSINI'S Canzonets, containing many and great beauties, ought
to have been sung by a treble and tenor voice : the transposition was
therefore made at the expense of the author and the singers. The duet of MERCAUANTE afforded the ladies a more fitting opportunity to dis-
play their powers. Flimsy in itself, it acquired all the interest it parted from the additions made by the singers. The embellishment; which formed the principal portion of the duet, were sung with mar- vellous accuracy, although their range was "deep and high ;" and, we should imagine, left the admirers of the florid style nothing more to wish. We presume, and we hope, that the qualifications they possess will introduce these ladies to many fashionable and profitable engage- ments, since we are satisfied that their vocal powers, when properly called forth, will delight and astonish numberless hearers. The most absurd thing of all was giving them the trio from A.zur and Zemira, and compelling them to sing it in English, although an Italian version of the same composition exists in the Philharmonic library. Evidently
untutored in the music of Germany, and having it also presented to them in a foreign tongue, who could wonder that the music of Smut was hardly to be recognized? It had scarcely a feature in common with the same trio sung as we last heard it, by Madame STOCKHAUSEN, Miss BIRCH, and Miss HAWES.
The chief merit of Miss MASSON'S song belonged to the horn accom- paniment; which placed Mr. JARRE'TT at once in the position of the first English player on his instrument. As the Directors this evening broke through their rule (which we always thought a foolish one) of excluding front performance all vocal music unaccompanied by the band, it is to be hoped that a regulation relaxed in favour of ROSSINI, Will no longer be enforced against BEETHOVEN, MozAter, or PURCELL ; but that we may be allowed to hear the "Adelaida " of the first, the "Non temer " of the second, and PURCELL'S "From rosy bowers," a cantata worthy of Miss MAssos's powers, and one which she has made com- pletely her own.