20 JULY 1844, Page 18



A. NEW and very extraordinary quartet-party, in the persons of &vont, SAINTON, HILL, and ROUSSELOT, assembled on Monday, apparently ex- tempore, fur the purpose of playing BEETHOVEN'S Posthumous Quartets; sad, though the original scheme was somewhat modified, they did not fail to accomplish one of the most delicious musical evenings ever en- joyed by amateur. Beauty of tone and intonation, unity of feeling, polished and exquisite delivery of cantabile and bravura passages, were married to such perfection on this occasion, that the audience sat like a party entranced, absolutely riveted to the players as the several beauties of their solos and combinations were successively developed. No such quartet-playing certainly has ever been publicly heard in London. The evening was singular not merely from the excellence of the pas- formance, but from its high artistic uncompromising character. There were no sugar-plums—none of the platitudes of song: the artists hail work before them, and they set at it very seriously, never once quitting their platform till they had brought the whole to a conclusion. Smug first led a Quartet of HAYDN in G minor, No. 74. The arrangement of the movements—the adagio in E with four sharps—at once refers this to the more advanced and polished mra of HA.YDN'S quartet composi- tions. SAINTON then led a posthumous Quartet of BEETHOVEN in B flat. A Pianoforte Trio, by Mr. OSBORNE of Paris, was next played by the author, and accompanied by SIVORI and ROUSSELOT ; and the music concluded with one of the Rasuntoffsky Quartets, (the third in e major, with the final fugue,) led by &vont. When concerto-players of five-hundred-horse-power are musicians enough to interpret the classi- cal quartets, not only does the music gain, but their own talent is ex- hibited in one of its most interesting phases. &your vanquishing the immense difficulties of PAGANINI'S B minor Concerto was certainly not more interesting to us than in leading quartets of HAYDN and BEETHOVEN, playing second in another quartet, and accompanying a trio. There, he only showed the mastery of a certain diffi- cult achievement; here, he displayed his reading, his knowledge of style and effect, in the less ostentatious but not less profound and beau- tiful styles of chamber-music. We see here, in fact, the details of the study that make up the exquisite talent of &vox'. An immense soul informs his slender frame; he renders the music with passion, but with a certain characteristic native simplicity, and consummate elegance of manner. The tone of SAINTON contrasted finely with that of Swear; yet neither seemed in either way to play against the other. We neva heard any thing in which players of solo pretension so thoroughly sacri- ficed it to the composition. It was HAYDN and BEETHOVEN, in a more charming dress than they had ever yet appeared in, that were presented to us; the performers were only remembered when the composition was over. In this quartet of various nations, HILL supported the tenor part much to the honour of England. He played with fine tone and colouring ; modifying his instrument exactly as it might be wished in the society of such players. And, " though last not least," ROUSSELOT is certainly the finest quartet bass-player we ever heard. He pro- nounces the phrases like a composer and musician, and, when accom- panying, keeps his tone so soft, smooth, and beautifully subdued, that we can compare it only to the dulciana stop in a fine organ. Such were the component parts of this special quartet—deserving of being commemorated as of one Italian, two French, and one Englishman. And as in all piquant combinations for the physical palate—in the manu- facture of punch, salads, and sauces—there is a mystery felt and ac- knowledged, may not these turn out to be the true proportions of the most highly-flavoured, racy, epicurean quartet ? A little superstition is pardonable in cases of great excitement. Of the music, we preferred the charming natural Quartet by HA.TDIt and the noble Rasumoffsky Quartet in C by BEETHOVEN. The Post- humous Quartet of the same composer, led by SancroN—a work of almost incredible difficulty in the effects, the accelerations and retarclam, tions of time—reflected perhaps the greatest collective honour on the performers. But, mingled with many novelties and beauties, it has antiquated and trite things in the shape of sequences, &c. sufficient to throw suspicion upon its being an entire and genuine work of the master, though his hand may be certainly detected in parts. There is alto- gether a want of impulse and sustained power in this composition; and, as in many of ONsLow's works, the interest in it is often sustained by effects when ideas cease. The Trio in A, performed by Mr. OSBORNE of Paris, is of the concertante order, and without any merit in point of invention or individuality of style. We expected more from the reputation of this artist than we found. If he can do no better.in playing or composing than he exhibited on this occasion, he may sons find that there are half-a-dozen young English musicians, sprung up is as many years, who are much his superior in either department.