The "Grand National Concerts" at Her Majesty's Theatre commenced on
Tuesday evening, and go on nightly. Our musical readers are already aware of the plan of these entertainments, as described in the programme put forth by the Directors. That announcement, as well as the current gossip, had excited great curiosity about the concerts; and
they drew to thelKeitrfls erqidliePaver+4.r sW4qWl4 `rWithin lin minutes after tht-11Mes *e'reed, trotabnaffe, con-
sisting of the whole floor of house from tlateirele if it xes to the back of the stage was filled qdMeggiid t like a torrent, till tbeaeheditme tpeAbsiaely ipackedlarelia be ittinverableitefirMerthiln a
flock-9f .410e21 in• On AV, PePfefff..■§4111#41 '631X 21149113Pt 1/9/l14369t9, 9 t4e,1110,_,_416111 n `,1 it° the FM4,wly 14,1! Ole t'a#P, 77113 6 rativ'e e,. e • • 1. • the stit tax, di% ge ;' • IV and eagerly sought by the people, w with •fltightql eV disordited' glitnithite t.1514e fiflntI*el-4121174 the press: 1tmsy' %Tents, iiintkIneil that 1; h4t4falsulis *I13 at- fended with ;no small noise and tumult. Sued' wies theietate of tisieglenot merely at the beginning but during two-thirds of flu perfermance, 'after which the crowd thinned and the confusion abated. The boxes and stalls, too, were as full as they could hold : but in those happy regions there was no discomfort—their occupants sat surveying with compas- sionate serenity the labouring crowd below. How did the music fare in the midst of all this turmoil ? But in- differently, of course. It could not be heard to advantage in any part of the house not even in the privileged places above. The struggling crowd in front ;wide too much noise of their own to hear the orchestra except when it became as noisy as themselves. The people behind could hear nothing distinctly but the fortissimo of the band ; Halle's finger on the piano, Sainton's tones on the violin, and the "sweet voices" of Angri and Miss Messent, were equally lost upon them. Then the musical sounds rose in the air in the midst of such a complication of discordant noises, that they were not much better heard above than below. There is no use, therefore, in talking of the reception of this or that piece by the audience. There was a great deal of uproarious applause, and violent contests between encores and non-encores ; but of anything like judg- ment or discrimination, under such circumstances, there neither was nor could be the slightest vestige. The only thing that really told was the Overture to Guillaume Tell; its concluding double-quick march, played with matchless force and spirit, carried the multitude by storm. The concert, even had it been better heard, would not have been very satisfactory. The best piece in the programme, Beethoven's Concerto in E flat, was broken cff in the middle. Charles Halle (who has no supe- rior in the execution of classical music) evidently played with little com- fort to himself, and seemed glad to be released from his task. His other performance, a note-splitting fantasia of the modern sehool, was un- worthy of him, and probably intended as a sacrifice to vulgar taste, and a propitiation for the sin of having inflicted Beethoven on a popular audience. If so, it failed; for it was as little regarded as it would have been at the Philharmonic had he ventured on playing such a thing there. Balk produced an "introductory overture" of his own ; a mere piece de circonstance, which will not be often repeated. Sainton played a solo on the violin of which we were able to hear enough to convince us that it was worthy of his reputation. The only vocal pieces that de- serve even to be mentioned were the two airs from the Semiramide and the Huguenots sung by Mademoiselle Angri. The dancing music, of which there was a plentiful supply in the shape of quadrilles, waltzes, and polkas, was generally set down as inferior in spirit and effect to the corresponding things at Jullien's concerts. The orchestra fully realized the anticipatory description of it : collectively and individually it is admirable ; though it is easy to see from what we have said that it had little scope for the display of its powers.
On the second evening, Wednesday, the enormous crowd of the previous night produced a not unnatural reaction. The promenade was not half full, and the boxes and stalls were still thinner. The band was employed more worthily than before upon the Sinfonia Eroica • which was played. in two halves, at the beginning and end of the first part. One great feature of Beethoven's famous orchestral work was thus lost—its won- derful construction as a whole. Madame Biscaccianti, a stranger in London, sang an air of Bellini very well; and a pianoforte solo was played by a Master Werner,—a juvenile prodigy, of whose merits we may speak at another time. Au reste, the concert was a counterpart of Tuesday's. The third concert, on Thursday, was in itself like the pre- vious ones. But the attendance was much better than on Wednesday, and the audience were quiet and attentive. The classical pieces, cense- quently—lfendelssohn's Pianoforte Concerto in G minor, played by Halle, the same composer's Violin Concerto played by Cooper, and the Overtures to .Egmont and Faniska—were satisfactorily heard.
We cannot from these performances form any conclusions as to the probable success of the undertaking. The excessive crowd of the first night was as much against success as the thinness of the second ; but, from the experience of the third night, we hope the attendance will settle down into the medium which will prove the golden mean. Neither from the commonplace character of these concerts are we to infer that they will continue to be commonplace. The Directors are evidently not yet ready to bring their resources into the field. We have to look forward to the chorus of his Prussian Majesty's chapel, coming en masse from Berlin, and to a number of original works, orchestral and vocal, on which eminent composers are stated to be employed.
With all this allowance, we have doubts as to the possibility of making very cheap concerts acceptable to persons of cultivated taste, or of de- vising any kind of concert so as to gratify the wishes and tastes of all." The fable of the old man and his ass will apply even to concert- giving—in trying to please everybody you please nobody. Different entertainments must be suited to different tastes. We have the Phil- harmonic for the lovers of classic orchestral music ; we have Exeter Hell for the serious middle-class audience ( a large portion Dissenters) who go to hear the sacred harmonies of Handel and his followers ; we have the Madrigal Society, the Purcell Club, the Beethoven Society, the Musical Union—each with a specific purpose, and calculated to gratify a particular taste. But an audience disposed to enjoy with equal relish the profound involutions of the symphony, the massive harmonies of the ora- torio, the delicacies of the Italian opera, the namby-pamby simplicity of ballad-singing, and the thumping and braying of polkas—is a chimerical assemblage, which cannot exist. This, we conceive, is the "rock ahead" of the Grand National Concerts, and we don't well see how they can steer clear of it.