Reviews

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New York 1920s

Reviews of the 1920s.

New York Times, 18 October 1921

MUSIC
By Richard Aldrich.

Bronislaw Huberman’s Recital.

A large audience full of zealous friendliness, some of it no doubt patriotic in origin, as is apt in these days to be the case in New York when foreign artists are to be welcomed, heard the first recital in Carnegie Hall last evening of Mr. Bronislaw Huberman, Polish violinist. It was not Mr Huberman’s first appearance in New York, for he played here twenty-five years ago as an “infant prodigy,” with long hair, clothes quite as youthful as befitted his years, and not a little talent, manifested with a good deal of crudeness.

In the intervening years he has acquired a considerable European reputation as an artist. Mr Huberman is now a serious person, approaching middle age; his hair is not longer in the way; but it must still be said that his talent is manifested with a certain crudeness. Mr Huberman is an unpretending player, and makes no attempt at personal display. His mind is apparently more upon the music he is engaged with than upon himself and the effect he is making, and this predisposes in his favor. He is well equipped with the technical proficiency that is expected of all violinists of reputation in these days. Yet he frequently seems to find it a severe strain to produce his effects, a laborious operation, back-bending; and the result is labored. Mr. Huberman’s tone is powerful, but it is not notable for warmth or appealing quality.

His progress was not one that would show any artist to the best advantage in Carnegie Hall. Beethoven’s “Kreutzer Sonata,” though cast in the largest mold of any of his violin sonatas, is chamber music, and loses some of its characteristic quality in a large hall. Tschaikovsky’s concerto with a piano accompaniment has the flavor of cold veal – even though the accompaniment is so skillfully played as Mr. Paul Frenkel played it, and the others on the program – for this concerto more than most needs the glowing colors and the variegated strands of the orchestral fabric enfolding it. Mr. Huberman played the sonata with technical skill and intelligence, but without a comprehensive understanding of its poetical beauty. There were passages that seemed labored; there were others in which he seemed suddenly smitten with the sentimental possibilities of a phrase and lifted away from the thought of labor. There was much in his playing of the “Chaconne” from Bach’s D minor solo sonata to inspire respect, and even admiration, and, notwithstanding the frequent evidence here, too, of toil, some of the variations were played with much technical efficiency, and even made to disclose their musical import. As for Tschaikovsky’s concerto, the effect could hardly be expected to reach the highest brilliancy under the circumstances of its performance, yet Mr. Huberman played it with abundant dexterity, though his tone in certain exacting passages was apt to lose something of its musical quality.

His last group included pieces by Mozart, Chopin (in Wilhelmj’s arrangement) and Paganini, and after the “Chaconne” in response to demonstrative applause, Mr. Huberman added, appropriately, a movement from another one of Bach’s unaccompanied sonatas.

 

New York Times, 8 Dec 1922

Mr Stranky’s philharmonic society given in Carnegie hall last evening. By Richard Aldrich.

Mr Bronislaw Huberman was the soloist, playing Brahm’s concerto. Mr Huberman has before now showed the sterling quality of his art, his high seriousness and his power to cope with great music. Some of his methods with Brahms’s concerto puzzled his admirers. In the first movement he attacked the opening phrases, and some later ones with a tempestuous energy that was translated into roughness of tone and a forcing of the same; and with a certain exaggeration of the rhythmic impulse, which is rightly to be sure, drastic, but which seemed overdone. Then in the cantilena passage Mr. Huberman sang most seductively, most beautifully on his instrument; and there were large sections of the work of which he truly interpreted the poetry and reflected the sunset glow of the music.

 

New York Times, 1 Feb 1923

Richard Aldrich

The Friends of Music changed its habitat for its concert given yesterday afternoon; left the Town Hall and invited its supporters to Carnegie Hall.

Mr Huberman played the two romances by Beethoven with admirable musicianship, a full-throated utterance of sincere sentiment. It hardly seemed as if the two belonged together in one number, so closely are they related in spirit, however interesting it was for the analytically inclined to compare them thus.

The most important number of the program was Taneiev’s suite, which was announced as played for the first time in America, and very likely was, for comparatively little of this Russian’s music has penetrated to this country. It is a long and elaborate composition, comprising a rhapsodical prelude; a gavotte in which a strong new wine is poured into the old-bottle of the archaic dance rhythm; a movement called “Ghost story,” fancifully suggesting legends of the Russian countryside told at bedtime, and a theme with five variations in interesting and varied forms. It is music strongly tinctured with imagination, robust and vigorous, and showing little or nothing of the influence of the national folk song. Mr Huberman played it with great power and conviction, and Mr Bodanzky gave it an excellent performance of the highly developed orchestral part.

 

New York Times, 27 Oct 1923

Huberman gives novelty

Violinist plays prize-winning sonata by Alexander Tansman

Bronislaw Huberman played a young Polish composer’s work by of a prime novelty at his reappearance in recital at Carnegie Hall last night. With Siegfried Schultze at the piano, he gave the violin sonata in D major by Alexander Tansman. It was told that this was one of three manuscripts in a post-war competition of the new Polish Government, all three anonymously submitted by a youth hardly out of his teens, and all winning prizes for his music and for himself quick fame.

Tansman’s sonata is transparently youthful in spirit, young in heart, and none the less likeable for that. It seemed a free improvisation in four short movements, ingratiating in the playful tossing of pretty tunes between piano wires and fiddle strings, the exploring of kaleidoscopic harmonies. A Slavic melody and a gay “intermezzo scherzando” were applauded.

The sonata is dedicated now to Huberman, who has presented in Paris, Amsterdam and London. Last night’s program comprised also Bach’s concerto in E, with small chamber orchestra; Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” and Debussy’s “Minuet,” “En Bateau” and “Cortege,” piano pieces arranged for violin by Huberman.

 

New York Times, 25 Nov 1923

Assists Philharmonic

Bronislaw Huberman, Violinist, Plays in Tchaikovsky Program

Bronislaw Huberman played Tchaikovsky’s concerto for violin in D major with the Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall last evening. The violinst maintained a broad, sweeping tone, rich in colours, with delicately wrought phrasing and much fluency. Mr Huberman was ably assisted by Mr Willem von Hoogstraten’s players in giving a highly intelligent presentation of the composition.

The orchestra alone gave Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and the same composer’s “Romeo and Juliet.” As usual, the hall was filled to the last bit of standing room, and there was a long line of applicants for admission when the last had been sold.

 

New York Times, 1 Dec 1923

Bronislaw Huberman’s Recital.

By H. C. Colles

Bronislaw Huberman offered an abundant program of violin music at Carnegie Hall last night to an audience which fully appreciated the abundance of his powers. Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata with Siegfried Schultze playing the piano came first, then Mendelssohn’s concerto with Siegfried Schultze representing an orchestra, then some Bach without accompaniment and finally that miscellaneous group which is the reward of those of the audience who tolerate the classics for the sake of the virtuoso.

Those who take the opposite view, who find the virtuoso admirable for the sake of the music, had much to be thankful for in the first part of the program where Mr. Huberman’s finished playing was devoted to great music. One might differ from him about certain features in the Beethoven sonata, notably the variations of the middle movement made too restless by his ingenuities of bowing, but it was undoubtedly a performance full of vigorous life. In the Mendelssohn he certainly laid too much stress on mere speed and though he rarely if ever had to sacrifice clearness to get it, and his tone always retained its pure and liquid quality, he did sacrifice or at any rate failed to discover some of its beauty of feeling.

It was delightful to hear him march steadily through to the end of the slow movement without ever giving way to the sentimental relentando[sic], but the finale can have just as much vitality and considerably more of grace by being taken at a more moderate speed. The modern tendency is to treat tempo like the spinning of a top – to set the thing going and let it run. The greatest players have always kept it like everything else within there control, with something to spare.

Though the same fetish of speed rather limited his Bach, which consisted of the Praeludium, Gavotte and Menuett from the sonata in E, this was perhaps the most enjoyable part of Mr. Huberman’s program, because of the decisive rhythm, the purity of tone and the firmness of the chord passages. It was altogether a most stimulating performance.

 

New York Times, 20 Jan 1924

Huberman, Violinist, Plays Again.

Bronislaw Huberman, the violinist, gave his third recital last evening at Carnegie Hall. His program comprised Franck’s sonata, Bach’s chaconne, Bruch’s concerto No. 2, the Wagner-Wilhelm “Prize Song,” a waltz-caprice of Wieniawski and two Spanish dances by Sarasate. Siegfried Schultze assisted at the piano and there was a large and cordial house. It was made known that Mr. Huberman, who is booked for an American tour next year, is leaving soon to do “broadcasting” at the invitation of the Dutch Government. He has been invited also by the present Russian Government to make a tour of that country, which he has not visited since the revolution.

 

New York Times, 18 Feb 1924

Huberman is applauded.

Heard With Stransky’s Players at Opera House Matinee.

A matinee audience at the Metropolitan yesterday heard the last but one of the State Symphony Orchestra’s series there. It will close March 2, when Mme. Jeritza, now starting her own concert tour, returns for a local field day with Mr. Stransky’s players. Two soloists assisted yesterday, Bronislaw Huberman in Mendelssohn’s violin concerto and Anton Bilotti in the “Dance of Death” by Liszt. The orchestra gave also Schubert’s “Unfinished” symphony, Smetana’s “The Moldau” and the “Rakocsy” march of Berlioz.

Mr. Huberman was long applauded after the concerto, which, with the brief symphony that preceded it, might well share honors among the most popular of musical classics. Mr. Bilotti also made a graceful appearance, if less fortunate, in the noisy piano declamation of the “Dies Irae.” Indeed, Liszt’s bombast made the brass of Berlioz after it shine like gold. Mr Stransky’s interlude from Smetana, anticipating the Czech composer’s centenary, was a joyful celebration of his native river in melodies of Bohemia’s own.

 

Neue Freie Presse, June 1924

The fifth concert of Bronislaw Huberman was sold out. That signified a triumph without equal, an unparalleled victory. Artists are not too numerous who can attract the public on a warm June night. Huberman had the power to do this. His violin playing has a legendary luster, his tones a clear beauty, an infatuating sensuousness; the noble breadth and ardent interpretation bewitched all. Artists like Huberman are the elect and favored of fate, they shine like stars.

 

Wiener Zeitung, June 1924

I heard Huberman in five of his concerts. Enthusiasts filled the place to the last seat when he played Beethoven and Brahms. The brilliant tone, the nobility of the cantilena, the aspiration and flight toward God are unique. Huberman is the latest poetic interpreter on the violin, the latest messenger of the great masters who turn everything they touch into harmony and soul. Huberman belongs to them, he appertains to their immortal state.

 

New York Times, 15 Dec 1924

Bronislaw Huberman’s recital

Four important works, each typical of a certain school and period and asking of the performer many qualities of technic and interpretation, made the program of Bronislaw Huberman’s violin recital yesterday afternoon in Carnegie Hall. These were the Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata, the unaccompanied prelude and fugue in G minor of J. S. Bach, from the sonata in that key; the Mendelssohn concerto and the Wieniawski “Faust” fantasy. Mr. Huberman was assisted by Siegfried Schultze, pianist. The compositions were arranged not in chronological order, but with a view to contrast and effective succession. They were played with a sincerity, a fire and a ripe knowledge that made the concert more than an agreeable one.

In Beethoven’s Sonata Mr. Huberman at times sacrificed sensuous beauty of tone to dramatic accent. The listener felt sympathetic when he did this – felt, in fact that he would hardly have been a man and artist had he done otherwise. Could Beethoven have been fully satisfied with his medium in his composition? Must he not have felt restricted, once he had elected to employ a violin and piano, to find his thought assuming an unconquerable energy and passion which, in the first movement at least, would have required an orchestra to do it justice?

In the slow movement Mr. Huberman avoided the pitfall that often entraps less matured artists, in not attempting to make the theme and variations too emotional. When the variations tended toward triviality they were given dignity and substance by the musicianship of the performer.

The incomparable music of Bach was discoursed in an earnest and lofty spirit. For years the surpassing genius of his works for violin alone was misunderstood by those who preferred the more brilliant style of certain of Bach’s Italian contemporaries, and who could only perceive what they called they unidiomatic quality of Bach’s compositions in this form. That day, however, is well past. The Bach compositions for unaccompanied violin, not only in the richness of the thought but the manner of the writing, are a whole technic and a whole world of beauty in themselves. Mr. Huberman brought to his Bach the same conviction and enthusiasm that he had given to the impassioned utterances of Beethoven. Yet he never imposed himself upon the listener. He gave voice to the composer, and a large audience signified its pleasure.

 

New York Times, 12 Jan 1925

Bronislaw Huberman Plays Again.

Bronislaw Huberman, the violinist, seized a day from his mid-season tour to play again last night at the Manhattan Opera House, where an audience of admirers showed frankly its enjoyment of his playing. In addition to Bach’s C-major adagio and fugue for violin alone, his program included both the sonata of Franck and the “Symphonie Espagnole” of Lalo, assisted by Siegfried Schultze at the piano, and pieces by Brahms, Wagner, Wieniawski and Paganini.

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