A REVIEW OF THE MUSIC AT THE ALBERT HALL EISTEDDFOD. By Vincent Thomas. Adjudicators —Dr. Henry Coward, Mr. Emlyn Evans and Mr. D. C. Williams. From a musical point of view the Eisteddfod last Thursday was a distinct success. That the Welsh in London have lost neither zeal for, nor interest in, this annual gathering was evident enough; yet, large as the audience certainly was, the number of empty boxes and stalls gave one the impression that the vast hall was too large even for an Eisteddfod, and one almost wished to be back in the more familiar quarters at the Queen's Hall. During the evening I found myself wondering whether the folks in the balconies and galleries could hear distinctly enough it is so necessary to be able to follow everything in a competitive meeting. The vast distances, the echoes and the imperfect acoustic properties interfered with that intimacy between platform and auditorium which is necessary for complete enjoyment of the pro- ceedings. This was very noticeable during the pianoforte solo competition the great organ, skilfully manipulated by Mr. Merlin Morgan, domina- ted the place by its strength and body of tone, but after it came the faint tinkle of the piano. Only ihose in the immediate vicinity of the instrument could really form a judg- ment as to the respective merits of the com- petitors. Three contested, each one displaying considerable technique, the prize falling to Miss Alice Edwards, of Forest Gate. The decision was made known by Mr. D. C. Williams in a few well chosen words. The test piece for the contralto solo com- petition was Mr. Emlyn Evans's song, Lord of the Fatherless." Three yourg singers of comparatively equal ability sang, and Dr. Coward, who assured us that the composer agreed with his own views, awarded the prize to Miss Margaret Sandbrook, tirifFithstown. That the art of singing duetts was not by any means a lost one was clearly demonstrated in the next item. Two pairs of singers delivered Gabussi's Fishermen" excellently. The points appeared to have been intelligently studied, the voices blended well, and in both cases there was evidence that each man was in accord with his colleague. Mr. Emlyn Evans gave judgment in favour of George T. Foxon and Cecil Best, although it must have been dis- appointing to the other pair, who had voices of quite exceptional quality which they certainly knew how to blend.
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The soprano solo competition was one of the most enjoyable of the evening. Miss Muir, Miss Watson, and Miss Ellis contended for the prize, and all three aroused the interest of the house by their treatment of Hear ye, Israel." We have all heard this beautiful aria scores of times, but it never loses its beauty if treated with reverence by any adequately endowed songstress. It was one of the favourite airs of Jenny Lind, that good woman and incom- parable artist Last Thursday some of the virtue of Jenny Lind may have entered into her namesake, Miss Jennie Ellis, of Cardiff, for she sang in a clear, true voice, enunciating dis- tinctly, with an appreciation of the dramatic qualities, and to her the judges had no hesita- tion in assigning the prize. Four baritones contested in the next com- petition. The winner was Mr. W. G. Webber, of Lancaster, though it must have been by a narrow margin, all the voices being good. It was a beautiful and touching sight to see a blind competitor led on to the platform, and the impression was deepened when he sang with much beauty of tone and expression. In the absence of Mr. Madoc Davies, through influenza, the Chairing Song was delivered, in excellent style too, by Mr. David Evans. Another distinction awaited Miss Jennie Ellis, she was awarded the Open Competition. I much regretted that Dr. Coward merely announced the name here was an opportunity to learn of the expert, and I was eager to hear reasons as to the decision. To decide between two basses and a soprano in the rendering of the same song, is indeed a difficult task, and it would have been interesting to learn how the problem was solved by the adjudicators. Owing to the lateness of the hour the tenor solo competition was decided on the merits of the preliminary contests, and the award given to Mr. D. J. Jones. Middlesboro. Six choirs entered for the choral competition, the test-piece being Mr. D. C. Williams' Homeward Bound," and sang in the following order:- No. i. Manchester Orpheus Glee Society (Mr. W. S. Nesbitt). No. 2. Mid-Rhondda Male Voice Party (Mr. Rees Jones). No. 3. Resolven Male Voice Party (Mr. '1'. Glyndwr Richards). No. 4. Cynon United (Aberdare) Choir (Mr. W. J. Evans). No. 5. Eryri Male Voice Choir (Mr. John Williams). No. 6. London Welsh Male Voice Choir (Mr. Merlin Morgan). Dr. Coward having courteously sent me his notes on this important event, I am able to summarise the chief points in' the performances of the choirs. No. I opened well, and sang with great spirit and effect in the storm scene, but the words were not always clear a fine rendering on the whole, but marred at times by slowness of tempo. No. 2 did not open so well and gradually got out of tune with the instrument: the storm section was sung with energy, and the words were clear; the end of the work was a great improvement on the beginning. No. 3 was unaccompanied, a commendable point: a good tempo was maintained, but the power and brilliancy of the final movement were impaired through loss of pitch, otherwise a capital rendering. No. 4 made a very good opening, and showed an all-round excellent tone; storm very descrip- ti\ e, words clear, and the adagio very devotional from beginning to end. There was expression and atmosphere in this rendering, and, in point of tempo it was very correct. No. 5 was unaccompanied-a commendable feature. 1 he opening was good; and in all sections there were excellent points, but the loss of pitch was too serious to be overlooked. The final portions were given with great spirit and well rounded off; a very good performance. No. 6 adopted too slow a tempo, but the intonation was good, and the accompaniment most judicious the storm scene was sung with vigour and great spirit, and the articulation was excellent; the final portions were good, and the rendering on the whole was a fine one. Dr. Coward sums up as follows:—"The three choirs which stood out above the rest were Nos. i, 4, and 6, the undoubted best being No. 4—The Cynon United (Aberdare) Male Voice Choir, conductor, Mr. W. J. Evans." So ended the Eisteddfod, every event in. which was of high excellence, and to Mr. D. R. Hughes and his colleagues we feel grateful. Distinction was lent to the gathering by the presence of Dr. Henry'Coward, who is acknow- ledged one of the very first chorus-masters of the day. We had constant evidence that our race can still produce scores of fine voices, and; one sometimes wonders why there are com- paratively so few Welsh vocalists at the very top of the tree. We have all these good voices we have temperament and brains. Is it because our singers cease their studies too early-say, when the diploma is gained-forgetting that progress is impossible without that continual; hard work and hard thinking which almost amounts to suffering ? Do we keep abreast of the times and follow the development of the Art ? Everything that widens the artistic horizon is of value to the musician, be he singer, executant, or composer; and when we have absorbed this truth and become convinced of its necessity Wales will stand higher in the musical world than it now does. We must familiarise ourselves with modern music, vocal and orchestral; forms and styles are constantly undergoing radical changes, and things are not what they were even twenty years ago. And our neighbours are never tired of re- minding us that we are behind the times
Qohebiaethau. [Nid ydym mewn un modd yn gyfrifol am syniadau eiu., gwahanol ohebwyr.] EHEDYDD IAL." At Olygydd y "LONDON WELSHMAN." BARCHUS SYR,—Wrth ddarllen y LONDON WELSH- MAN am yr wythnos hon sylwais yn y golofn sydd yn. dwyn y penawd "Am y Diwygiad" y sylw canlynol mewn perthynas i weithiau Ehedydd HI." Gresyn fod yr hyn a ysgrifenodd yr hen ffarmwr o Dafarn-y gath, Llandegla, mor anhawdd taro arno;, a, chymwynas a chrefydd Cymru fyddai i rywun eu cynull a'u cyhoeddi mewn ffurfradlon a hylaw." Bydded hysbys i ddarllenwyr y LONDON WELSHMAN fod casgliad o waith y bardd o Landegla wedi ei gyhoeddi yn ddiweddar o dan olygiaeth y Parch. John Felix, Corwen enw y gyfrol ydyw Blodau Ial." Ei, phris, os ydym yn Cufio yn iawn, ydyw swllt, Yn gywir, EDWARD OWEN. THE ALBERT HALL EISTEDDFOD. To the Editor of THE LONDON WELSHMAN." Sm.-As a regular subscriber to the LONDON WELSHMAN, I would respectfully crave a corner of your journal to enable me to protest very strongly against the unjust treatment of at.out twenty competitors, in the' final Tenor Competition last Thursday. I was present at the Preliminary Contest, at the Falmouth Road Chapel the previous evenir g, whi n Mr. D. Emlyn Evans, Mus. Bac., was adjudica ing. At a late hour, (about 11-30 p.m.) the competitors were informed that the prize was awarded to the best singer in the Pre- liminary Contest Why could not the Final be taken in an adjoining room, during the Chairing ceremony, and the address by the Lord Mayor ? I would also like to know whether the winner was eligi le to compe e in accordance with the Amateur rules? Perhaps the Hon Secretary can explain in next week's issue. NOT A COMPETITOR.
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