“You Americans don’t always cheer at a concert, do you?” asked the foreigner. “I understood you were decorous and restrained.”
We Americans don’t always cheer at concerts. But of late-and it is by all means a healthy note-we cheer at concerts such as that glorious last one of the Philharmonic-Symphony’s Carnegie Hall series for the year, given last Sunday afternoon. It closed Toscanini’s American season and the Wagner cycle with which he ended his year’s labors in our vineyard.
There was cheering and bobbing up and down and an altogether laudable tendency on the part of the audience to remain in the hall until no orchestra or conductor were visible to receive its auditory laurel.
The greatness of the occasion became manifest with the “Meistersinger” prelude which opened the festivities. Both leader and band were in the loftiest of moods. That was clear.
Just as clear was the fact that this mood communicated itself to the day’s vocalists, Gertrude Kappel and Paul Althouse, whose contributions earlier in the series were not too distinguished. They sang the Act 1, Scene 3 “Walkuere” music with wonderful esprit, in note-worthy rapport with the orchestra and each other. And both singers were in excellent voice.
The climax of the afternoon has to do with “Goetterdaemmerung.” Never, in many hearings of this opera and excerpts therefrom, have I heard so inspired, so magnificent a version of any of it. The heavens seemed to open, as indeed they ought, to receive a Siegfreid giving up the ghost to such lyric accompaniment. Only a hero could die to such an obbligato.
And the crowning touch was Miss Kappel’s singing of Bruennhilde’s immolation scene at the end of the opera. The genius of Wagner had been given its due for once.
The plans of the Philharmonic-Symphony for next season mark several departures from precedent.
To Toscanini and Bruno Walter the classic part of the prospectus will be intrusted.
Toscanini will conduct a Brahms cycle of six different programs, the soloists to include Jascha Heifetz, Vladimir Horowitz, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Mishel Piastro, Alfred Wallenstein and several vocalists, to sing with the schola Cantorum.
A feature of Walter’s six weeks will be a Wagner series, also with distinguished vocal soloists.
Bowing to an ever more vociferous demand, the powers behind the orchestra have decreed that more notice will henceforth be taken of the world about them.
Hence, Otto Klemperer, victim of Nazi fury, will conduct the works of international moderns during the first four weeks of the thirty-week season.
Artur Rodzinski and Werner Janssen, young conductors, will direct the orchestra for two weeks each, features of their work being exposition of American compositions.
Hans Lange will conduct for three week again, combining “the old and the new.”