Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

lribit has been one of the inducements to their adoption. We put ther nearly upon a level with the specimens of Mr. S. Wesley's works in the volurne, to which, by places, they bear some slight analogy, though we think they go a little beyond him. The passages have, to our ears, something of the same organ effect, something of the same instrumental rather than vocal structure, wearing however an air more polished and refined by study and acquaintance with the schools of Italy. Wesley is something harder and more severe than MOREIRA. Certainly Moreira's manner is forcible and masterly. The parts are connected not without a show of contrivance and erudition, and the imitations are kept up with spirit and effect, particularly in the motett “ Sint lumbi vestri præcinti," and if upon the whole he captivates us less than the former masters, it is from his melody being less smooth, flowing, and attractive. We preferOstende faciem tuamto the rest.

The specimens from Mozart are almost all known on account of the recent performance of the operas whence they are extracted. * Possenti Numi,” from the Zauberflotte, set to the words “O Jesu polentissime," as a bass solo, and quartett is remarkable for its grave and pathetic cantabile air. It would, we think, have been improved in its effect, bad it been transposed a note or two higher, for a singer must have uncommon powers of tone and expression who could convey the passion at the very bottom of his voice. In this respect it exhibits a variation from the received notions of modern eomposers, who have endeavoured to transmute the mechanical style of writing for basses into a more elegant and graceful flow of melody. Air is not wanting but it lies so low as to render its effect doubtful if not absolutely heavy among bass singers in general. With this brief chronicle we may dismiss the selections from this author for the airs of Cosi fan tutte, 11 Don Giovanni, and La Clemenza di Tito, will probably be amongst those most readily and most generally recog. nized. We may place in the same class the extracts from the il Rullo di Proserpina of Winter. From the German opera of Fanchon, by HIMMEL, there is one short specimen of melody so delightful as to lead us to wish for more from the same spring. The seven motetts that conclude the volume are from Haydn's well known - Passione,and are ably arranged by Mr. Webbe, Jun. A terzetto from SARTI, (published by the way previously in Latrobe,) with a few other things from MATTET, Bach, GIORDANI,

and Beethoven, complete the work, except the compositions of the selector himself, which we have reserved for the last place in our remarks.

The general characteristics of MR. Novel Lo's style appear to us to be suavity, elegance, and bold and various modulation. His melodies do not rise into extraordinary felicity or originality, yet they are ever flowing and agreeable, mixing much of the sober dignity of the church style with a lighter manner that gives relief, while it assorts well with the graver foundation and more solid materials of the work. We should be induced to hazard an opinion that Haydn is a favourite with Mr. Novello, and that he often finds himself drawn by an irresistible impulse to the study and to an indirect imitation of Haydn's writings. Our notion is formed from that leading and general assimilation which attracts men of common feelings by a common sympathy, of which we not only imagine we perceive considerable traits in the compositions of MR. N. now before us, but that they prevail in other things we bave seen from his hand. It would indeed be matter of surprize, if a composer of the present day had escaped the universal fascination. We must do MR. Novello the justice to say, that we consider him to be of the school of Haydn, for we do not find a single passage that leads us to think of Haydn, otherwise than through the resemblance, which only by a large and broad acceptation impels us to the principles that they hold in common, namely, sweet, flowing and ornate melody, supported and di* versified by frequent and often curious and unexpected changes in the harmony. Me. Novelio then is Haydn's scholar not a plagiarist or direct imitator.

The first motett that presents itself, “ Asperges me Domine,” bas somewhat of both these distinctions though not in so prominent or so excellent a manner as some which follow. “ O Gloriosa” is written in a lower, a plainer, and a graver style than is customary with MR. N. and has less to fix it in the mind. " Sancta Mariais a sweet and graceful air abounding in such frequent modulation as to throw over it somewhat of the two decorative character of an ambitious style. The repetition of the words“ Sancta Maria” in the last page is how. ever highly expressive, and conveys tlie idea of imprecation with impassioned yet holy fervoir. “ Tu deviclo” (the subject from PortoGALLO,) has great merit as a counter-tenor song, both from the ele. gance of the passages and the pathetic effect of the changes in the

harmony and the simplicity of its entire structure.“ Vidi aquunis perhaps the most striking if not the most effective of the whole. The strain beginning “ Hæc dies fecit Dominusis elevated and animating, while the bold changes of key in the Allelujah add to the natural spirit of the fugue, and render it grand and nervous. The subject of “ In manus tuasis scarcely interior to any motivo Mr. N. has given us, and the continued motion of all the parts, makes it full and complete.“ Tantum ergo” in both major and minor keys are two sweet pieces of melody, finely combined with rich and various harmony, and they form the able conclusion of the thirteen picces MR. NOVELLO has inserted into his six numbers.

Upon reading over our remarks, it seems to us, that they who have not seen the book will conceive we have given a too partial description of its merits; but we can truly assure our readers that amidst the multitude of music that falls under our inspection, there are very few works we can so conscientiously recommend for general desert. They will not forget that a selection implies in itself a probability of superior excellence, and in this instance the selector had a repntation to lose as well as to confirm. He has not been unmindful of his former credit nor of the requisites for his present undertaking, and in recommending the whole six numbers to the public, we are alike supported by the suggestions of wbat we esteem to be generally sound and good taste, and by the influence of the particular beauty which appertains to almost every single specimen in the collection.

A Selection of popular National Airs, with Syntphonies and Accom

paniments, by Sir John Stevenson, Mus. Doc. The Words by Thomas Moore, Esq. London. Power.

This is a truly elegant little book in every sense; and we know not when we have been so gratified by music and words of such a kind. We cannot so well describe its scope and intention as by a quotation from Mr. Moore's preface, which it is the more necessary to do, as this number is the first of a series. “ It is Cicero, I believe, who says " natura ad modos ducimur;" and the abundance of wild indigenous airs, which almost every country except Eng. land possesses, sufficiently proves the truth of this assertion. The lovers of this simple, but interesting kind of music, are here presented with the first number of a collection, which I trust their contributions will enable us to continue. A pretty air without words, resembles one of those half creatures of Plato, who are described as wandering in search of the remainder of themselves through the world. To supply this other half by uniting, with congenial words, the many fugitive melodies which have hitherto had none, or only such as are unintelligible to the generality of their hearers, is the oliject and ambition of the present work. Neither is it our inten tion to confine ourselves to what are strictly called national melo. dies; but, wherever we meet with any wandering and beautiful air, to which poetry has not yet assigned a worthy home, we shall venture to claim it as an estray swan, and enrich our humble Hippocrene with its song.

It is not, indeed, without strong hopes of success that I present this first number of our miscellany to the public. As the music is not my own, and the words are little more than unpretending interpreters of the sentiment of each air, it will not, perhaps, be thought presumption in me to say, that I consider it one of the simplest and prettiest collections of songs to which I have ever set my name.”

The author of the poetry has here given us one clue to his fertility in the production of words which speak so deliciously to the heart, and too often so voluptuously to the senses, while they are in the finest accordance with the melodies. Hitherto the ideas of composers of vocal music have been elicited by words. In this case (as

in the general) MR. Moore's most felicitous productions bave been inspired by music. It had often struck us that the English words to Haydn's canzoncts, (by Mrs.John Hunter we believe) breathed more of the conjoined spirit of music and poetry than it was usual to find in mere translations; and we had in our owti minds accounted for their superior expressiveness, by assuming the influence of the composition. From the aggregate mass of beautiful song. writing by Mr. Moore, we are further confirmed in our opinion previously formed, that words written to music were more likely to embody and unite and as it were to exalt the perceptions derived from the combined expression, than music written to words. But why should this bc so? We think we can supply the reason. When a Poet sits down to his work, his imagination is commonly excited and occupied by some one leading idea; and the thoughts, which fill up and beautify the outline, are struck out as he proceeds; many arise from the mere friction and collision which he encounters in his search after syllables of the proper quantity, after words that will stand in his verse, as well as after epithets, images, and rhymes. He warms as he brings his fancy into fuller exercise, and perhaps the happiest pictures are those which, in the outset, were the farthest from his conceptions. Ile is therefore indebted to the process itself, in a great measure, for the power which produces his success. If then a new agent be brought to his aid-if he be first roused and melted by the touching notes of impassioned melody, he is stimulated by a fresh impulse, and by one too that has been admitted since the world began to be potent above all others over those affections moved by and employed in the labours of the muse.

What passion cannot music raise and quell!
When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren closed around,
And wond'ring on their faces fell,
To worship the celestial sound!
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell,
Within the hollow of that shell,

That spoke so sweetly and so well." Mr. Moore certainly rises from listening to the sound of music full of the God." No Poet bas hitherto blended classical imagery with a tenderness that never fails to melt the soul away, so uniformly, so felicitously; and although he is responsible for more

« AnteriorContinuar »