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a chorus, in the memory of all who have bestowed any regard whatever upon the construction of such picces, that we may venture to say no other name than HANDEL ever presents itself in company with the word chorus, and again no other chorusses but the richest, most elaborate, and most magnificent of all he has left us.
What we bear of such things at a theatre, if we except Matthew Lock's Macbeth, are rarely objects of more regard than the vociferations of a mob at a procession in the streets. Even at the Italian opera they are almost entirely overlooked. To compare any theatrical composition of this sort with those of the oratorio, and of Handel in particular, is highly unfair on account of every circumstance that excites or accompanies such productions. If then some of Mr. Bishop's chorusses have been little spoken of, or nearly forgotten, it arises very much from this association, and more from the little interest with which chorusses are received. He is nevertheless pre-eminent over all his predecessors but Lock, in this respect. The sesletlo, “ Slay, prithee stay,” in the Miller and his Men, deserves to be particularly mentioned; and the chorus, “ Now lo the forest we repair," has still higher pretensions to excellence. The introductory sym. phony is, as usual with the author, light, elegant, and lively, while the body of the chorus is wrought up with great strength of expression, the various modulation, harmonies, and richness of the accompaniment heightening the effect of the vocal passages. All the parts are well managed, and the whole is brilliant and vivacious. The first chorus in the Maniac is striking for its complication and force. The finale of the first act has also great merit; it is very spirited, and some beautiful melody is intermixed. In couches,” which is forcible throughout, and rising in effect as it proceeds, Mr. Bishop has borrowed from himself. The idea of the opening having obviously introduced itself from his celebrated, and really most excellent bass song of “ Fust into the waves.” Some of the best, if not the very best of his clioral music, is however in the Virgin of the Sun. These picces are constructed more in the manner of HAYDN's Creation than the chorusses of landel. We can speak of no theatrical chorus so highly as the storm scene in this opera. The first parts are very graceful—the middle full, grand, and awfully impressive. A great deal both of what we may call natural and artificial force is employed to produce effect. In the last chorus-Vengeance, Mr. Bishop appears to have been stimu
lated by the extensive female voices he had to write for, and he has succeeded in point of variety and powerful effect. The specimens we have quoted, if they were the only things of the kind MR.. Bishop had written, would, in our esteem, give him a decided preeminence in this department of composition over all lris more modern predecessors.
A barrenness of invention in the composition of part-songs, seems to us to be a circumstance common to tire writers of English dramatic music. So much of the strength of an Italian theatre frequently resides in the concerted pieces, that we scarcely know a single opera from which instances of beautiful perfection might not be extracted. An English opera, on the contrary, rarely contains any thing of this sort worth notice. A few may be drawn from STORACE, and one or two from Attwood' and Kelưy. Suield is not fertile any more than his compeers in this respect. We entertain a suspicion, that three things limit the genius of the composer in this matter-Ist. The support of the dramatic character; 20. The nature of the words; and 3d. The want of a matured taste in the mixed audiences of an English theatre. We observe; that almost all the part-songs are very plain, and too frequently coarse, vulgar, or tawdry in their construction. The untaught ear can most easily apprehend single sounds, and there must be a considerable degree of advancement in science before one is brought to relish the perfection of harmony, or of intermingled pássages, where the coming in of the several parts create an apparent confusion as to sense, and leave very few clear ideas on the mind of the hearer as to the sentiment expressed by the words. We conceive therefore that this last fact throws a damp upon the ardor of the musician, and directs his attention to the single songs. Certain it is, that with very few exceptions indeed, considering the quantity of music we have gone through, we find no glees at all to be compared with those of WEBBE and our later HORSLEY, whose works in this department are amongst the most honourable specimens of the genius of our time and country. Mr. Bishop has, however, cultivated glee-writing with somewbat more success than the generality of his predecessors. We have already quoted, “The Chough and Crow” and “Blow gentle gales,” which may be adduced as powerful and sweet examples. In the duets we did not perceive a single specimen deserving high commendation.
Mr. Bishop's overtures are not perhaps upon a par with his other writings. They are high-sounding, but certainly not remarkable for learning or genius. He has a very extensive knowledge of the power of instruments, and yielding too ready an assent to a prevailing taste in a mixed audience, he is apt to admit solos for the display of particular instruments, which weaken the general effect. His overtures we believe have rarely extended beyond the orchestra of the theatre.
To conclude then, we give Mr. Bishop credit for fancy, study, and taste; and if his works should seem to lack the intensity and variety of thought and feeling which constitute what is understood by ORIGINALITY, there is yet a brightness, a gracefulness, a suavity, and sometimes a strength in his writings, which płace him far above the line of mediocrity. Whoever purchases his operas will find in most of them agreeable melodies, well adapted to singers whose aims are directed to the amusement of lighter hours and of general audiences_music commonly pleasing and rarely difficult of execution, and bearing the stamp and impress of the fashion of
A Collection of Motelts for the Offertory and other Pieces, principally
adapted for the Morning Service. The whole composed, selected, and arranged, with a separate accompaniment for the Organ or Piano forte, and respectfully inscribed lo Wm. Troy, Esq. by Vincent Novello, Organist to the Portuguese Embassy in London.-Six Numbers. London.
The earliest efforts of musical science were devoted to the service of the Catholic Church, and we owe to the learning and industry of her servants the bulk of those inventions which first methodized the knowledge of harmony, and afterwards preserved and continued it. To so remote a date as 590 of the Christian æra, probably almost all our readers well know, we are able to trace the exertions of Pope Gregory, who collected the rudiments of chụrch music, and are ranged them in the order long continued at Rome, and adopted by the chief part of the Western church. “He banished,” says the writer we quote, “the Canto Figurato as too light and dissolute, and substituted his own chaunt, called Canto Fermo, for its gravity and simplicity." Since this period, however, every species of learning and graceful contrivance have been at various times employed in the mass, and the Catholic Church has, in every age, been the fruitful origin of compositions of the highest merit and beauty, as well as the bountiful nurse and protectress of musical professors. Nor is it a matter less singular as connected with antiquity than remarkable in science, to find the musical productions of the early times of the great Pope GREGORY connected and incorporated with the works of composers in the 19th century.
But during the establishment of the Protestant form of worship * in England we have derived very little from the followers of the ancient worship. With the exception of Mr.Webbe's masses, which were the first to supersede the use of the Gregorian chaụnt in Catholic choirs,
* Let us vot however be understood to speak irreverently, or without the fullest recollection of the noble and glorious compositions for our Cathedral Services which have been written during the interval. In thus stating the temporary banishment of Catholic music from our shores, we merely relate a fact, and do not by any means wish to open a controversy, or even to institute a consparison respecting the benefits the science has or has not received from the change.
the selections of MR. LATROBE, the two volumes of selections and three of masses of Mr. Novello, we are not aware of any addition to the public stock of choir-music of this description. Hence the Catholic choirs of the kingdom have confined their music within narrower limitations, and general science has ceased to be enriched, The publications however we have recited bave originated a feeling and desire for the enjoyment of such sound and delightful writings; and the compositions of CALDARA, Hasse, HAYDN, Mozart, PeREZ, MOREIRA, Wesley, Russell, and others scarcely less celebrated, have been heard in the forın of masses, hymns, motetts, &c. not only in the choirs but in concerts, with the sincerest gratification. The world is already deeply indebted to Mr. Novello for the judg. ment, taste, learning, and industry displayed in the elegant compositions and the masterly arrangement of his former collections. The work we have now before us entitles him still further to the marked acknowledgments of all real lovers of music. We think we may yenture to add, that he merits tho thanks of his own church; but perhaps these will experience some exceptions, for the clergy are in general studious to preserye a certain degree of simplicity in their music, and we have already found that there are even laymen among the Catholics who regard the introduction of secular compositions, though adapted in the finest possible manner to sacred words, as liable to objection. These pious persons, whose motives every one must respect, are apprehensive that original impressions of a light kind should be too fixedly associated with known melodies, and thus divert rather than elevate the mind in the solemn moments of devotion. The argument is not without its weight, but its appli. cation is here reduced within very narrow bounds by the nature of the pieces selected for secular writings by the circumstances which have insulated them from very general observation in England. The persons who attend the King's Theatre are comparatiyely, very few, and they are still fewer who visit the Opera sufficiently often to note and remember the melodies which they there hear. They are commonly of rank and education, and therefore secured from the danger of abstraction from the duties of devotion, which might accompany similar associations among a class more alive to
* Last winter the town flocked to Warwick-street Chapel to hear a mass composed by Signor Garcia, the tenor singer at the opera, but we have not understood that it is yet published.