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tion of a series of foreign operas, composed by Mozart, Rossini, Weber, and Auber; none of which could be sustained without talent of this powerful order.
CRESCENDO AND DIMINUENDO.
What is more alarming than the gradual increase of a mighty sound, when it pours upon the ear from a distance; whether it proceeds from the roar of a multitude, or the raging of a storm, the auditory sense is overwhelmed, and the mind is filled with imaginary danger! When the increasing force accumulates to excessive loudness, the vibrations become too great for the soul to bear. There is also a sublimity in the gradual decrease of sounds. What filled the mind of the Greeks with more terror, than the dying accents of the gladiators, or the roar of the battle, falling into silence and death!
It is equally sublime to listen to sounds when they retire from us. Handel has aimed at this poetic effect in the ' Messiah,' when he pictures the ascent of the heavenly host, giving an idea of their distance and flight. But it is in the drama only that we can feel the force of these illusions. Turn to the finale of 'Don Giovanni,' where the force of the voices is so nicely diminished, at every step as the phalanx marches off the stage, that we suppose them passing out of sight and hearing. Che
rubini's 'Overture to Anacreon, has acquired its celebrity more from the free use of the crescendo and diminuendo, than from any thing new exhibited in the composition.
There is no accomplishment in the art of singing more fascinating than the swelling and dying away of the voice;—when used with taste and judgment, it never fails to delight us. The performance of the 'Miserere in the Sixtine Chapel in Rome, so often described by travellers, owes its shadowy effect to this approaching and retiring of the sounds. Farinelli moved his audience to a state of ecstacy by the manner in which he commenced his famous song 'Son qual nave,' 'the first note of which was 'taken with such delicacy, swelled by minute degrees 'to such an amazing volume, and afterwards diminished in the same manner to a mere point, that it was applauded for five minutes. Beethoven is the only composer who has introduced this effect into choral music: we find it applied at the termination of some of the choruses in his posthumous Mass; -here the voices alone pour upon the ear with an effect like the swelling and dying away of the storm.
MISS STEPHENS. No female singer has continued so long the favorite of the British public as Miss Stephens. Her beautiful voice and artless manner are often delightful; but it is in the simple ballad, which never rises above general comprehension, that she excels.
Though she has acquired an easy execution, she is deficient in that fervor which is requisite to the bravura. Her excellencies and defects are closely combined: the pretty mode in which she delivers her words is often disfigured by the offensive slides introduced between her notes, a practice so common with inferior singers. The portamento, or slide, when properly introduced, is a grace of passionate expression; but, when used without thought or discretion, is an effect that is nauseous and ridiculous.
The silvery tones of her voice are sometimes cast into shade by the incorrect manner in which she ascends from the tonic to the dominant, making the fifth too flat, a defect common to the greatest singers; and it happens, unfortunately for Miss Stephens, that in her celebrated song, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, this disagreeable skip occurs not less than eight different times; but where the fifth is relieved by the interposition of the third, as in the following passage, the g sharp forming a stepping-stone for the voice to light upon, in no instance was the same interval incorrectly given.
As songs of execution Miss Stephens chose 'Sweet bird, and ‘Hush, ye pretty warbling choir,' so highly adapted to show the bird-like tones of her
voice. As sentimental pieces, ' In sweetest harmony they lived,'' Pious orgics, and · Farewell, ye limpid streams. These songs called forth her lower notes, the most impassioned part of her singing; but the well-known ballad of Auld Robin Gray' was the most happy exhibition of her powers. The weeping tone and soft lament she threw over this song gave it a peculiar charm, and though she could neither astonish nor surprise, her simple manner and penetrating sweetness of voice touched every heart.
This term expresses the quality of tone in which the passage over which it is written should be performed, which should be, as the term implies, soft, smooth, and delicate. Upon the violin this is produced by drawing a light and swift bow over the strings near to the finger-board; and, for the greatest degree of softness, the bow must still recede farther from the bridge ;-by this means a tone may be acquired, resembling that of the musical glasses, or the lower tones of the flute. Before this can be obtained on the voice the organs must be brought into the most pliant state, and used with the greatest delicacy. When this term is applied to instrumental music, it is generally to those morceaux of melody that are so peculiarly adapted to the voice, and the performer cannot express them better than by taking the vocal tones as his model.