« AnteriorContinuar »
moral injury than can be passed over or forgiven, we hope and trust that the hours are coming fast upon him which will chasten and redeem (would they could obliterate'!) his former errors. The poetry of this collection is much of such a cast. Its delights are princie pally those of reflection, and even the anticipations and descriptions are laid in with colours drawn from the past. The coming on of age begins to be visible in the calmer fires of the moslera Anacreon, and the yepave* awaits him. But we admire the more
That farewell of daylight more precious,
More glowing and deep as 'tis nearer the set.” Perhaps there is nothing particularly new-perhaps there is a great deal of what is absolutely old in these verses, but nevertheless they are so full of elegance and feeling that they are irresistible. As an example of this peculiar effect of sensibility, we may quote the Indian air, “All that's bright must fude," one of the most captivating things we ever met with. Nothing can be more hacknied than the thoughts ; nothing more common place than the expression; but in the measure and the melody taken together there is something 60 exquisitely touching, that dull iadeed must be his soul and rigidly severe his cast of thought, who can bar the passage to his heart against their combined insinuations.-“ Those evening bells" is of the same family. Indeed there is scarcely a line in the whole book that does not carry along with it the trembling light of a tenderness too melting to leave our critical austerity its perfect and proper tone of self-possession. To confess the truth, we at all times are apt to perceive that the sounds of a pianoforte (a necessary symbol of our art and mystery,) and the dulcet notes of well formed voices, (the demonstrators of our dissections) are marvellous softners of judicial asperity. Rejoice therefore, O all ye sons of song!
So much for the verbiage of the collection, and the verbiage, be it remembered, is the twin-brother, youngest born, of the melodies. Those selected are certainly very sweet, pathetic, and pleasing ; we think the Portuguese the best except the Indian air “ AU that's bright must fade," which is the better still. They are all full of graceful simplicity, and while their performance will alleviate the study of a graver, and we may be permitted to say a sounder style of composition, they will neither injure the taste, nor corrupt, though they will scarcely fail to soften the heart.
* “ Poor Anaereon, thou grow'st old."
• The concluding Russian air, harmonized * upon the same plan with Dr. Crotch's sublime " Methinks I hear the full celestial choir, aims at lighter effects, and succeeds in producing them. The melody steals upon the ear and upon the fancy with sweetness beyond description, while the hymn sustained by the under parts is in the finest style of such compositions, particularly the passage added by Sir John STEVENSON. We should, from its internal evidence, rather liave given the melody to Sicily than to Hyperborcan Russiaanother proof that the language of music, as an interpreter of the feelings, is universal.t We must, however, see more of such airs to enable us to estimate and class the general and specific character istics of national music.
Sir John Stevenson has adapted the symphonies and the accompaniment with taste and judgment. The English ear is now so accustomed to hear the voice supported by arpeggios in modern ballads, that such blandishments are become almost indispensable. These accompaniments are of that description. But they rarely, if ever, interfere with the main purpose--the display of national melody, and in general serve to set off and heighten its natural beauty by contrast. This is certainly the case in the accompaniment to the Portuguese - air, “ Flow on thou shining river." To " The bells of St. Petersburgh" is appended an upper part, which carries the words, while the accompaniment takes the originalthus giving life, sense, and being to an air which would hardly by any other contrivance have borne words-certainly not such words.
If we are disposed to object to any part of the publication, it is to the reduplication of the airs in the form of duets. None of the
* There appear to be some conflicting interests in the property of this melody. Mr. W. KNYVETT has published a glee, as his own composition, which begins note for note with the Russian air, and little notes thrown into the accompaniment bear the same similitude. The coincidence between the first strain of “Hark to Philomela singing,” and “ Hark the vesper hymn is stculing,” is too great to have been the mere effect of similarity of thought.
+ Since the above was written, we were present at a public concert where this harmonized air was sung, amidst the finest specimens of HANDEL, Mozart, CIMAROSA, Paer, and other Composers of great celebrity. The audience, which happened to be exceedingly select and critical, were more assected by this simple strain, than by any other part of the performance. It was done by the same singers who had sustained the other pieces. One hearer, not less eminent in science than warm in feeling, as he wiped the tears from his eyes at the conclusion, whispered to the writer - this, after all, is the music of the heart."
threc are improved, and two are manifestly injured by it. Our principal favourite, All that's bright,” is a thought single-puresimple—the natural, solitary, and pensive offspring of one mind. It comes after the solace of society ; after the hours of pleasure and the moments of affection; not during their enjoyment. It is the remembrance of joys that are passed. Its effect is only sure when sung by a voice plaintive, sweet, melancholy. Hence it is obviously an unfit subject for a part-song. Against the monologue “ Flow on thou shining river" being set as a duct, there are, perhaps, even stronger reasons.
Upon the whole, however, we commend this little volume to “my lady's chamber," as a high source of elegant entertainment. It is literally elegant in every sense, for we recollect no instance of a music book more ornamentally embellished or more clearly engraved. Whether it would have been as acceptable with or without the plates, we leave to be settled between “ Reason, Folly, and Beauty.*'
Agnese, Opera sentimentale in due atti, musica del Signor Ferd.
There are few English readers who have not wept over Mrs. Opie's heart-rending tale of The Father and Daughter, from which the fable of the Opera of Agnese is derived.* The novel embraces a long portion of time; it conducts its personages with inimitable force and pathos through a continuous story, and describes with a discrimination and tenderness not to be surpassed, the consuming wretchedness and the bright though weary close of lives embittered to the lowest degrees of suffering, by the consequences of one false step. The anguish, remorse, and penitence of the victim of seduction, and lier father's insanity, are pictured with an accuracy so apparently faithful, that one could scarcely believe the representation to have been the mere image of the fancy. Such a story was perhaps the very last that we should have expected to find converted into an Italian Opera; and it is, we believe, the first which has been taken from an English tale drawn from the events of common life. With the simplicity of Italian tasie, the dramatist has, however, selected a very few incidents and situations so deeply interesting and so poignantly affecting, that we have rarely seen a drama wherein the feelings were so intensely engaged. It is, however, due to the genius of our country-woman to point out, that these parts are entirely the offspring of ber invention. The foreign translator has copied not only the inci. dents, but the very words of the tale, and he has selected them with excellent judgment. He has changed the scene to another country, elevated the father's rank, and has altered the catastrophe, thus producing a species of drama analogous to our modern sentimental comedy, where distressful incidents are introduced to heighten the interest and produce effect by contrast. It occupies in the instance before us, a middle place between the serious and the comic Opera-a demi caractere, which, without rising to the fullness and majesty of legitimate tragedy, is certainly not less affecting ; perhaps we may say, that the sensations produced are more vivid and in
* Mrs. Opie's tale has been made the basis of two dramas, the one seriocomic, in prose, by Filippo Casari; and the second, the poem before us, by Luigi Buona voglia.
tense in proportion as the sentiments and situations are more natural and less removed from probability. We have met with nothing that goes more to the heart than this little piece, whether we regard the story or the music, for the composer has caught the genuine spirit of the original author, and has carried into his work not a little of the purity and simplicity of classical Italian models. The change in the catastrophe, from the death of the father and daughter, and the remorse of the seducer, to restoration of the first to reason, and the marriage of the latter, appears necessary to fit the story for dramatic representation, though it diminishes the pathos and the finer moral effects.
The piece opens with a short prelude representing a stormy night, when a chorus discovers that Agnese has left the house of her seducer, Ernesto, with her child. He returns from his fruitless search for them, with her vcil and hat found upon a bank, which leads him to conjecture her self-destruction. The structure of this chorus and recitative, is in the voice parts strong, though simple, with the occasional introduction of short pieces of beautiful and touching melody. The accompaniments are of a kind to denote the fury of the elements, at the same time that they mingle advantageously with the passionate expressions of those who are supposed to be searching for the lost Agnese. The construction of the entire scene is scientific and at the same time full of feeling.
The next scene opens with a cavalina of Agnese, who is discovered in a wood. This beautiful air describes the cessation of her anxiety at the falling away of the voices of her pursuers. She perceives the dawn of light, and by a natural transition passes to the calm which bas succeeded to her griefs. The recollection of having heard the voice of Ernesto brings back the image of the author of her misery and destitution, and calls forth a pathetic address to her child, now as it were made fatherless. The whole of this air is most affecting, though more ornate than should at first appear consistent with the enotions described, it is nevertheless highly impassioned, and the very ornamented parts are among those which best convey the sentiment if finely given. There are few songs better adapted to set off a singer of genuine expression than". Tutto è silenzio."
The scene which follows, whether for dramatic effect or musical excellence, is by far the most perfect in the opera. The rattling of chains interrupts the lamentation of Agnese over ber infant, and a