THE DERBY FESTIVAL.
DERBY possesses many of the requisites to give success to a festival. Its central situation—its noble church, so admirably adapted for the display of a numerous orchestra— its industrious, enlightened, and thriving population, and its numerous and wealthy nobility and gentry—are advantages which, in ordinary times, have little chance of failure. The present, however, are not ordinary times.
In a niusical festival our attention is always first directed to the selections ; for these indicate the decline or advance of the national taste. The presence or absence of MALIBRAN, PASTA, CATALANI, or any other star of eminence, has no bearing on this important question. Their business, at these meetings, is merely to repeat a few hacknied airs and duets, which may be profitable or not, according to the terms of their purchase, but which are quite independent of the general character of the selection. Our testimony is first due to the good taste of the Derby Committee for having produced the Chevalier Neuxoerar's Oratorio, Mount Sinai. We had the good fortune to hear its first imperfect performance in London, and to draw the public attention to its many and great excellences. We recommended it to the especial notice of our provincial meetings ; and the adoption of this recommendation at the present festival, is a gratifying evidence that our labours to advance the musical taste of the country are not in vain. After having, on former occasions, given a detailed analysis of the Mount Sinai, it is unnecessary to describe it. We have now heard the composition " in perfect form ;" and those instrumental effects which we were only able, at its former performances, to guess at, have now been realized. The skill of the composer is here as fully manifested in filling up, as his genius in designing the great outlines of his work. Unlike RIES'S oratorio, every thing here has some suitable and rational end to answer—exhibiting a unity of design and purpose, instead of a mere assemblage of difficulties, which, when surmounted, lead to no result, and leave no impression. From a student in the school of HAYDN, we anticipated a skilful employment of the wind instruments; and it was so. Probably in this respect the oratorio never was more perfectly performed. leTicnoesoer, WILLMAN, G. COOKE, MACKINTOSH, and HARPER, each in turn or together, delighted us with their masterly playing ; and the three trombones, on which much of the effect of the Commandments depends, were admirably sustained by SMITHIES, WOODHAM, and ALBRECHT. The choruses had been well practised, and were sung with precision and power, by the members of the Liverpool, Derby, and Leicester Choral Societies.
In addition to this oratorio, the Chevalier NEUKOMM contributed the following songs to the selections.
Benedictus (Oboe Obligato), sung by Madame STocau.i.usrx.
Maomificat (Violino Obligato) Miss CRAMER.. " ehe si mai" Miss MASSON.
David's Lament (Violoncello Obligato) Mr. BRAHAM. Every one of these is calculated toform a valuable addition to our stock of sacred music. In the last, BRATLAM realized all the anticipations which we indulged in our review of it ; in his hands, with LINDLEY'S accompaniment, "David's Lament" is one of the most perfect performances we ever heard. The Last Judgment was performed, of course ; not entire, but nearly so. We have yet the Sinfonia and the magnificent Recitative which begin the second act, to hear. The unrivalled greatness, the overwhelming majesty of this work, breaks out upon us more and more at every repetition : no composition that we know of, discovers in an equal degree the real power of music, and invests it with a like influence over the mind and the feelings. Of the sacred music, the only piece which remains to be noticed is the anthem "God is our hope and strength," by HORSLEY. Brought into collision with all the variety of excellence which distinguished these selections, it suffered nothing by comparison, and • only caused a feeling of regret that he who could write so well for :such a band, should have written so little.
Our veneration for HANDEL leads us to notice the wearisome repetition, by the same singers, of the same songs at every succeeding festival. We entreat the ladies especially, to bear in mind that they are not driven to the necessity of always singing "Angels ever bright and fair"—" What though I trace"—and "From mighty Kings ;" but that HANDEL did actually write certain other songs, which, if they would take the trouble to look, might not be found unworthy of their talents. The Selection from Israel in Egypt, too, is always confined to the same choruses ; why, it would be difficult to say. There is no reason for the constant repetition of " He gave them hailstones," and" The Lord shall reign ;" to the uniform exclusion of "Thy right hand, 0 Lorcl"-..ii The people shall hear"—' And with the 'bled *cif thy nostrils," and others. We intend, some day, to publish a-list of neglected songs and choruses of HANDEL, which ought to take their turn in performances of this kind. The same injustice is constantly perpetrated upon HAYDN. .0f.his four oratorios' the first Act of Creation is all that the public are .allowed. to hear.; the incessant reiteration of which has now become a habit which must be broken.
The schemes of the Evening Concerts consisted chiefly (as they, usually do) of those songs and concerted pieces which have --attained their share of metropolitan popularity. The greatest favourites with the audience were Madame STOCKHAUSEN'S Swiss songs, Miss CRAMER'S "Soldier's tear," Da BEGNIS'S "1 violinie' PHILLIPS'S "Sea," and a very spirited new song of BRAHAM'S by the Chevalier NEUKOMM, "Wine, wine."
Of the instrumental pieces, young MANVICES'S Violin Concerto attracted the greatest share of attention. He is a native of Derby. shire, and very early discovered a love for the violin : after being for several years under SPAGNOLETTI, he went to Germany, and placed himself under SPOHR, and the present festival was fitly chosen for his debut as a concerto-player. His tone is round and full ; his style marked by energy and expression, and his execution amply sufficient to content those who can receive enjoyment from playing which is not intended to excite mere astonishment. The Morning performances, we have said, were in All Saints' Church. The orchestra was judiciously constructed; and the fol. lowing were the proportions of the band
48 Stringed Instruments.
26 Wind Instruments.
34 Cantos. 26 Altos. 25 Tenors. 29 Basses, 188
This distribution of numbers might have been improved by nil, creasing the strength of the Chorus, and especially of the Basses, who were borne down by the Altos and Tenors. The Evening Concerts were held in the County Hall, a place in every way fitted for such a purpose ; and all the arrangements which regard the convenience of the audience were admirably made. It is but justice to say, that the various duties of the Committee—and they are both various and arduous—could not have been performed with more attention and ability. The defects which we have pointed out in the schemes, were but specks on a surface of uncommon brightness, and we tender them our best thanks for their well-directed efforts in advancing the cause of good music. Some circumstances, of a local and temporary nature, conspired to lessen the attendance on this festival. The attention of the country is absorbed by one great subject ; and until that is decided, the interests of trade, the claims of charity, and even the calls of fashion, will be comparatively unheeded. Many of the principal nobility and gentry of the county were engaged in attending their Parliamentary duties, and the detestable and unchristian spirit which assumes the cloak of religion arrayed itself against the interest of the festival, we fear with some success. As we predicted, the attendance on the performance of the Messiah was by far the least numerous. We exhort future committees, both at Derby and elsewhere, to give this oratorio a little repose : if not, its hearers will decrease with an accelerated pace, and it will soon be performed to the walls. This we should lament to witness, and would willingly prevent. We have said but little of the individual exertions of the principal singers ; for most of them are too well known to render remark necessary. As one of the newest and most promising candidates for public favour, we ought to mention Miss MASSON; whose singing HANDEL'S music bespoke a cultivated mind, while her execution of the songs and duets of the modern Italian school evinced her perfect acquaintance with this difficult branch of her art. It deserves to be noticed, as one evidence of the high estimation in which this festival was held by professional judges, that Mr. MOSCHELES, Mr. and MTS. HORSLEY, and MTS. ANDERSOrç were among the number of its auditors ; and that, in addition to these, many amateurs, well known in the musical circles of the metropolis, were attracted to it.