SECOND PHILHARMONIC CONCERT.
The concert on Monday last was, in consideration of the Holy Week, chiefly of a sacred character. The first part consisted of the Overture to the second part of Spohr's Last Judgment, some pieces from Mendelssohn's St. Paul, and Beethoven's Mass in C; and Beethoven's Choral Sym- phony, which constituted the whole second part of the concert, has some strong devotional features. There was a singularity in prefacing a selec- tion from one oratorio by an overture belonging to another; and, because, in the programme, it was called by the name generally applied to such pieces in foreign scores—" Sinfonia "—the Society has been illiberally charged with an attempt to mislead the audience into a belief that they were to have two Symphonies, as usual! But this "Sinfonia from the Last Judgment," (as it was correctly designated,) one of the clearest, sim- plest, and most melodious of Spohr's orchestral compositions, was a better introduction to a brief selection from St. Paul than its own overture, which, from its weighty and imposing character, must always stand as the vesti- bule of the whole mighty edifice to which it belongs. The selection con- sisted of the sweet chorus, " Oh, happy and blest are they,"—which was softly and smoothly sung; the soprano air, " Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets,"—in which Miss Birch made various improve- ments on the author's text; and the air, "O God, have mercy upon me,"—which Mr. Phillips also improved. Beethoven's Mass, from beginning to end, was an admirable performance. A mass, indeed, is for obvious reasons not well fitted for a concert-room; and its performance has been made an article of accusation against the Society. But we must either hear this mass as the composer wrote it, with a full orchestra and a great chorus, in this way, or not at all; and of two evils it is not difficult to say which would be the greatest. The only alternative is to hear it, with some dozen voices and an organ accompaniment, at the chapels in Warwick Street or Moorfields.
Beethoven's Choral Symphony never before produced such an effect in this country. Considering the very imperfect and faulty provision made by the Philharmonic Society for rehearsals, the performance was a marvellous display of ability on the part both of the conductor and the band. We confess that, though somewhat familiarized with the details, we cannot yet grasp the vast design of this gigantic work, or discern the bear- ing of the long series of instrumental movements upon the subsequent vocal treatment of Schiller's " Ode to Joy." We can understand the gay and sportive scherzo, and the serene and placid adagio; but we are very sure that no one who heard for the first time, and without a key, the principal movement in D minor, so full of grandeur, agitation, and even gloom, would ever associate it with any idea of joy. Perhaps it is intended to sot by the power of contrast.