usu . au b' fly grant.
THE Monday Popular Concerts were resumed on Monday last, after the usual Christmas vacation, and though the programme lacked some of the brilliant attractions of the previous concerts of the season, it was still one which could only suffer by corn-
parison with its predecessors. Htunmel's Military Septet was the great feature of the evening, and though far from standing as high in popular favour as the better known septet in D minor, was well received. A later composition than that universal favourite, the Military Septet, shows signs, if not of any degeneracy in its composer, at least of more haste and less care. The melodies are more trivial, though still Mozartian in purity of taste, and there is wanting much of the exquisite and elaborate instru- mentation which marks the septet in I), and which is not com- pensated for by the showy passages for each instrument in succes- sion. The execution by MM. Halle, Sainton, Pratten, Lazarus, Ward, Severn, and Piatti, was in most respects admirable, the only noticeable exception being the trumpet passage in the trio, which forms the distinctive " military " feature, and was cer- tainly too rapid for clearness. Mr. Charles Halle was pianist, and chose for his sonata Beethoven's No. 2. The solemn and mournful, yet wild, largo appassionato of this sonata, with the weird and mysterious effect of the basso sempre stac- cato, could only have been composed by Beethoven, and only played by Mr. Halle. The ethereal gaiety of the scherzo, which sounds as if a troop of fairies were dancing in the first beams of a sunrise which had dispelled some unearthly horror of the night, while less individually characteristic of Beethoven, was also played by Mr. Halle with no less perfect apprecia- tion. The singers were Miss Banks, who introduced an ex- quisite " lullaby " by Glinka, and Mr. Winn, who sang "Nazareth," a most striking sacred song by Gounod. One thing remains to be said with regard to the Monday Popular Con- certs in general, and last Monday's in particular. Eight o'clock is certainly not an unreasonable hour for the commencement of a concert; the audience are "earnestly requested" to be in their seats at that hour, and yet, on Monday last, for upwards of a quar- ter of an hour after the commencement of the "Septet," the atten- tion of all seated in the body of the hall and the back rows of the stalls was distracted, and their enjoyment marred, by an uninter • mitting stream of late arrivals. If people really appreciate good music they would not willingly lose a note ; while if they cannot, and only go because others do, they might, at least, have the good taste not to annoy those who can. The Monday Popular Concerts have, however, attained a reputation which would enable the director to soon put a stop to this sort of thing. If the doors were absolutely closed from the commencement of the first piece until its close, few would like waiting outside, and there is little doubt that the habitual stragglers would suddenly find it quite convenient to be in their seats at eight o'clock. The high position the Monday Popular Concerts take among similar institutions would quite entitle Mr. Chappell to adopt this course; and the great majority of their supporters would heartily thank him for putting a stop to a system which, though permimible at a theatre or orchestral concert, is unendurable at concerts where silence is absolutely essential to the enjoyment of the best music of the greatest masters performed by the most talented of artists.
At Covent Garden, the pantomime still crowds the house to the ceiling every night, while Buy Bias, the Puritan's Daughter, and Love's Triumph, all considerably shortened, precede it. Gounod's Faust is said to be in preparation, and a new opera by Balfe is also talked of. The production of the former would be a most acceptable event. There is, somehow or other, almost a wearisome similarity in the works of all our English composers, and a judi- cious eclecticism in adaptations of operas of foreign schools would both delight the public and stimulate English production. Mr. Benedict last year broke through the conventionalities of English opera to a great extent, and it is to be earnestly hoped that he will not let another fifteen years go by before following it up. At all events Faust will save us from the toujours perdrix of Balfe and Wallace.
The St. James's Theatre opened the week before last under the management of Mr. Frank Matthews. The principal features of the new regime have been the untimely end of an extravaganza by Mr. Byron, and the moderate success of The Dark Cloud by Mr. Arthur Sketchley, a gentleman hitherto not unfavourably known 118 an "entertainer." There is, perhaps, no one very glaring fault to be found in the latter piece, but in no respect does it exhibit much merit. The point on which this "drama of interest," as it is termed, turns, is whether the first husband of a Mrs. Granville was dead when she married again, and the use of this un- certainty by Philip Austin, an Australian adventurer, who, having obtained the transportation of her first husband, seeks by threats of exposure to induce her to leave her second, and who, though supposed to have mixed in society, is represented is offensively vulgar as well as villanous. The struggle goes on through a series of not very artistically contrived situa- tions; and the real interest of the piece is centred in Dr. and Mrs. MacTab,—thanks, in a great measure, to the acting of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Matthews,—a genial Scotch- man and his sharp-witted wife, who, from acquaintance with Austin's Australian career, defeat him utterly, prove his story of Mrs. Granville's former husband's death to be untrue, and ultimately hand him over to the police as an escaped murderer. Sir Marmaduke and Lady Granville, a mercantile baronet and his wife—who possesses all the disagreeable characteristics of the parvenu, -which are wanting in her husband, have not much to do with the main plot. The conventional low-life comedy, as repre- sented in a scene between the butler and the housemaid, is about