From the Archives: Schneevoigt In Triumph; Initial Concert With Philharmonic Orchestra Brings Immediate Victory for Conductor
The name of Georg Schneevoigt will perhaps be duly mispronounced over a wide territory this morning, but the glory of a superb triumph, gained at his initial concert with the Philharmonic Orchestra, belongs to him regardless.
One is inclined in speaking of his advent to use the famous Caesaristio utterance, relating to arriving and beholding and conquering, but then that is now a bromide.
Nevertheless Schneevoigt has conquered. And whatever defiance there may be to the rules of Finnish euphony, his name today will be on the lips of all the 3500 persons who witnessed his premier victory.
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Georg Schneevoigt—the name is, I believe, pronounced Snay-vogt—was acclaimed as an idol even before he directed a single note if the applause that greeted his appearance on the conductor’s stand at Philharmonic Auditorium is to be taken as a criterion.
The first number that he directed, the prelude to “The Mastersingers”—chosen seemingly with the most acute showmanship—brought cheers and bravos. He virtually was an idol before he had been before the audience ten minutes.
Whatever may be said of that superheated enthusiasm which was bound to await a new conductor, who comes to take up the destiny of the Philharmonic Orchestra with a note worthy reputation for musical ability there was evidence to support all the lavishness of the tribute which the musical public paid to Schneevoigt upon his first entrance into a new field and new country.
NO PAUSE IN INTEREST
Symphonic music assumed the character of a new adventure under the guidance of his baton last evening. Schneevoigt displayed both brilliance and versatility, and there was no pause in the interest which attended his introduction.
The Philharmonic Orchestra has not drawn so representative an assemblage of listeners in ages. The professional musical element was notably in evidence. There was an abundance of social distinction in the house that was crowded to capacity. There were present in important numbers those concerned with activities in the arts, motion pictures, and all the forms of expression that go to make Los Angeles a verging and colorful metropolis of creative work in the forming and the realization.
I felt that the reception of Schneevoigt indicated that everyone enjoyed the new conductor—and more than this that they welcomed him with the intention of returning many times to hear the orchestra as directed by him. It spelt new life, new vitality for the Philharmonic upon this the beginning of its ninth season. There was glamour that all-important thing about this new beginning.
SOMETHING TO WORK WITH
One must take token certainly of the fact the Mr. Schneevoigt at the outset of his sojourn here assumes leadership over a well-organized and highly proficient instrumental body. There is no question that the years have told in the building up of the Philharmonic, both under the direction of the late Walter Henry Rothwell and by virtue of the summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The latter is an advantage that few, if any, similar organizations possess in this county.
Still—for all that—it was a different orchestra that was heard under Mr. Schneevoigt. From the very first chords of the “Mastersingers” overture there was the inkling of newly-acquired vigor, strength and above all ruggedness.
Schneevoigt doesn’t spare the fortissimi. Perhaps the hypercritical may feel he stresses them too much at moments, but then it is glorious to know that an orchestra can play with overwhelming volume and that that volume is rich and full and vibrant.
LETS THE ORCHESTRA GO
Schneevoigt is one of the few conductors heard here who have the capacity to “let his orchestra go,” as the saying is, in the more melodious passages. There is no finer test of the metal of the director than this particular ability. It implies a trust in his orchestra that few conductors possess, especially at a first concert, and that perfect understanding of the time when “not to direct”—or at least to direct without external indication of care and precision.
I think it was the lovely flow of melody in the “The Prelude” to “The Mastersings” that captivated the Philharmonic audience as much as the dazzling climaxes of tone. Both had a part in bringing on the manifestation of approval at the close of this number, but the melodious sway was in some way pre-eminent.
To the three dances from the ballet, “The Three-Cornered Hat” by De Falla, the new number of the program, and to Respighi’s Symphonic Poem “The Fountains of Rome” Schneevoigt brought a strong feeling for contrasts and shading and a competent authority. Both these compositions added materially to the variety and effectiveness of the program, especially the Respighi work.
The conducting of Schneevoigt is not free from mannerisms but they are interesting mannerisms. A moment here and there, perhaps due to his ambition for this first program when they seemed to obtrude unnecessarily. The theatrical touch is not wanting, but for a change it is very grateful, particularly when backed up by a sense of efficiency.
To the Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Scheevoigt brought a broad and stirring energy. One could have asked for more subtle nuances in the second and third sections of this work, the andante sostenuto and Un poco allegretto e grazioso, which was so to speak not always so grazioso. Schneevoigt cannot entirely elude the rugged spirit when there might seem a need for eluding this. But his Brahms was a solid and forceful interpretation that allured by its novelty.
There are moments when in his conducting Schneevoigt suggests the Walter Damrosch of some years ago—markedly in the definiteness with which he points to and emphasizes the different sections of the orchestra and gives them individual prominence.
There is seldom any question about the response to his baton. It is there and with few exceptions clear cut. The men played under his direction with vibrancy and energy. If one misses at time the poetic quality, there is no doubt about the fiber and sinew of his music. It is hardy and forceful and strong in dramatic values—one could say perhaps even melodramatic values at times, though it will be better to determine this in subsequent concerts.
In any case, the Philharmonic possesses a conductor of splendid accomplishment, unusual and interesting in the nature of the his interpretations, and distinctly a personality.
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