[Met Concert/Gala] CID:86310
Siegfried Wagner Concert. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/10/1924.
Metropolitan Opera House
February 10, 1924 Matinee
For the Benefit of the
Richard Wagner Bayreuth Festival Theatre Restoration Fund
SIEGFRIED WAGNER CONCERT
Siegfried Wagner: An allem ist Hütchen schuld: Prelude
Siegfried Wagner: Sonnenflammen: Prelude
Liszt: Les Préludes
Die Walküre: Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire Music
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Prelude to Act I
Conductor...............Siegfried Wagner [Only appearance]
Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times
Long and cordial applause welcomed Siegfried Wagner when he appeared yesterday afternoon in the Metropolitan Opera House as conductor of an orchestral concert of compositions by Liszt, his grandfather, Wagner, his father, and himself, and also as solicitor of funds to aid the revival of the Bayreuth Festival next summer.
The audience looked hard at the son of the immortal Richard as he took the conductor's stand. He bore the scrutiny reasonably well, with poise and self-possession. One beheld a man rather short and a trifle portly, dignified, unostentatious, who set himself without fuss or pretense to the task before him. In conducting, Mr. Wagner's manner is as simple as his bearing as an individual. He beats time clearly. He knows his score, and knows that the men before him and the audience behind him know it. His manner of beating is unusually bilaterally symmetrical-both arms indicating the measure and an occasional cue for an entrance or an extra indication of tempo.
The program opened with the "Rienzi" overture. Then came two of Siegfried Wagner's Preludes to as many of his operas. "An Allem ist Hetchen schuld," produced in 1917, and "Sonnenflamen," a later work. A brief intermission was followed by Liszt's "Les Preludes," "Wotan's Farewell" from "Die Walküre," the vocal part taken by Clarence Whitehill, and the Prelude to "Die Meistersinger."
In the prelude to "An Allem ist Hutchen schuld" it was immediately apparent that Siegfried Wagner, by 1917 at least, had fought completely clear of any influence that his father's music might be expected to have had upon him as a composer. There is no Wagnerism whatever in this prelude, The spirit is that of old-legend, and not at all of the epic realm in which Wagner the first lived. There is a very pretty, graceful opening in the manner of the volksleider. There is then overlengthy development, with, finally, a frugal treatment of a horn theme too reminiscent of Engelbert Humperdinck, one of Siegfried Wagner's teachers in composition. As between Humperdinck and Richard Wagner, the former model proved certainly the weaker of the two. Nor could one develop great enthusiasm for the music of prelude No. 2.
As a conductor, Mr. Wagner shows experience and routine, though it must be said that the opening of the "Rienzi" overture seemed to those who have heard it frequently and very well played here unimpressive, overrapid in tempos and without that dramatic fire-one had almost said, of this passage, "dramatic charlatanry"-which made the music significant, even if it is far in value and individuality from what Richard Wagner accomplished in later scores.
Mr. Wagner is not without excellent qualities as a conductor. In certain places his tempi had an elasticity and an insistence on the "melos" of the theme which suggested that he probably had absorbed a measure of the vital traditions of conducting which his father was so influential in developing, and he never was guilty of the bombast and self-importance as an interpreter that characterizes too many conductors, great and small, of these days. He let the music speak for itself, although, unfortunately, he did so at times to such an extent that the hearer had the undeniable sensation of "laissez faire." Mr. Whitehill sang Wotan's music with the authority and musicianship always his, often with admirable vocal resonance and with a true, searching pathos. The performance of the "Meistersinger" music was enjoyed for the music, if not as any particular revelation. At the end of the concert there was again long and cordial applause for an amiable and modest musician who had said what he had to say without any particular enthusiasm and without illusion.