Fifty Art Songs by Nineteenth Century Masters
Ed. Henry T. Finck for high voice. Dover
Henry T. Finck was distinguished in his day, as critics go. But as critics go, he went; and Fincks are not what they used to be. Who would now announce the intention of “so training the taste of amateurs that they will be able henceforth to tell real diamonds and pearls from their worthless imitations”? It sounds exactly like the boasts of Bunthorne, and will leave readers equally out of patience. Among the diamonds and pearls are Paderewski's well-named Ah! The Torment!, which also exemplifies the style and standards of translation. Grieg and Franz are roundly asserted to be better song writers than Mozart or Beethoven, and are given more space than Brahms or Schumann. The whole volume is well produced but also well designed to show how musical taste is moulded (not to say mouldied) by environment as distinct from objective appraisal. It's a timely warning; meanwhile this product of its day and age (1903) belongs on the antimacassar between the aspidistra and the bowl of wax fruit.
The Musical Times, March 1977