Marcel Tyberg: Symphony No 3 / Piano Trio Falletta, Chuang, Ludwig

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TYBERG Symphony No. 3. 1 Piano Trio 2 • 1 JoAnn Falletta, cond; Buffalo PO; 2 Michael Ludwig (vn); 2 Roman Mekinulov (vc); 2 Ya-Fei...

TYBERG Symphony No. 3. 1 Piano Trio 2 1 JoAnn Falletta, cond; Buffalo PO; 2 Michael Ludwig (vn); 2 Roman Mekinulov (vc); 2 Ya-Fei Chuang (pn) NAXOS 8.572236 (60:51)

Don’t bother trying to find Tyberg in Grove , or in the six-volume Baker’s Biographical Dictionary , or in the 14th edition of the International Who’s Who in Music , or even in MGG ’s monumental 17-volume Personenteil , of which the volume with the Ts was published as recently as 2006. Until only about five years ago, Tyberg languished among the many forgotten names of music history, in particular among those of Jewish background who were sent to the death camps by the Nazis. Tyberg was only 1/16th Jewish, but he was deported anyway and died in late 1944 (the circumstances of his death remain unclear). But posthumous recognition is finally coming to this Austrian composer.

Shortly before he was arrested, Tyberg entrusted his scores to his friend Milan Mihich, who in turn gave them to his son Enrico. The latter eventually moved to Buffalo. For years he attempted to interest Buffalo Philharmonic conductors, among others, in Tyberg’s music. Rafael Kubelík expressed keen interest but died soon afterward. About half a dozen years ago, Tyberg’s scores caught the attention of JoAnn Falletta, and she programmed the Third Symphony with her Buffalo Philharmonic. The Tyberg Legacy Foundation was established in Buffalo at the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies, and funding therefrom helped bring forth the Naxos recording we now have.

The Third Symphony, composed in the 1930s, received its world premiere by the BPO and Falletta on May 10, 2008, and the recording soon followed. (Falletta has also programmed Tyberg’s Second Symphony for performances on April 30 and May 1 of this year to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day.)

The score is richly romantic, with strong echoes of Bruckner, Mahler, Zemlinsky, and Szymanowski. The huge orchestra requires quadruple woodwinds, heckelphone, eight horns (four doubling on tenor tubas), bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, two timpanists, and much more. It opens with a portentous call from a tenor horn heralding music of dark, Mahlerian angst (comparison with the opening of Mahler’s Seventh cannot be ignored). One almost immediately becomes aware that, like Mahler, Tyberg is going to use his orchestra as a vast palette of colors to play with. The second subject is as warmly romantic and gracious as the first was menacing and tortured. The D-Minor Scherzo has a Brucknerian drive and energy, thickly yet brilliantly orchestrated and with a virtuosic edge that recalls Dukas’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice as well. Shades of Bruckner hover also over the Adagio, which moves slowly and inexorably to its main climax. Its somber colors would have benefited from a warmer recording acoustic, but what is a small defect in this movement becomes an asset in the finale, a rollicking rondo whose main theme has the flavor of a saucy British sea shanty, tossed off in its initial presentation with virtuosic abandon by the Buffalo Philharmonic horns. The Philharmonic sustains the sense of high spirits and energy throughout the movement, indeed, throughout the entire symphony, though one cannot avoid the feeling that Tyberg might have left us a more convincing conclusion—the ending is simply too abrupt and unexpected.

The Piano Trio of 1936 is, if anything, even more engaging, filled as it is with big-boned, sumptuous themes and rich textures right out of Schumann, Brahms, Franck, and Tchaikovsky. Themes are masterfully worked out. One listens in disbelief to music composed in the age of Stravinsky and Satie, of Schoenberg and Berg, of Bartók and Messiaen, that is as accomplished as Tyberg’s yet so untouched by the fast-changing world around him—“as if he had truly lived a century before,” as Buffalo Philharmonic archivist Edward Yadzinski puts it in his fine booklet notes. Concertmaster Michael Ludwig and principal cellist Roman Mekinulov, joined by pianist Ya-Fei Chuang, deliver a performance that glows with passion and power. This disc is worth acquiring for either the symphony or the trio alone. Together they constitute an irresistible combination. This is definitely a Want List candidate.

More information on Tyberg can be found at Wikipedia and in an extensive article by Herman Trotter, music critic emeritus of the Buffalo News (reprinted on the website of the Jewish Music Institute). Readers are also referred to an interview in Fanfare 34:2 in which Falletta and Yadzinski disuss the Tyberg situation in some detail.

FANFARE: Robert Markow

How Marcel Tyberg's Third Symphony wound up in Buffalo is an interesting story, related in the booklet notes to this world-premiere recording. Tyberg (1893-1944) was a Jewish Viennese composer who died in Auschwitz in 1944 (as did several members of my own family--it's strange to think that they may have been there together). His Third symphony was composed in 1943, and it's a fine work, obviously in the Viennese tradition--sort of Wagner/Strauss with a Brahmsian structural overlay. It's colorful, uninhibited, perhaps a bit thickly scored, full of attractive melodic invention, and not a moment too long. For its date of composition it's a conservative work, but given the circumstances that hardly counts against it. JoAnn Falletta and her Buffalo forces do it proud: this is a bold, confident performance, excellently paced, that never suggests any unfamiliarity with what must have been a very unfamiliar work.

Tyberg's Piano Trio, from 1936, is even more stylistically reactionary, sounding like a typical example of mid-19th century Romanticism--but again, because it's the real thing and not a decadent relic it comes across simply as freshly melodious. Okay, it's not a masterpiece, but its three euphonious movements pass by very pleasingly, and like the symphony it's very well played (and recorded). Tyberg had a particular knack, both here and in the symphony, for creating vigorous rondo finales that never drag or sound tired, and if you know anything about late-Romantic finales then you know what a rare feat that is! There are many recordings of neglected composers around these days: this one deserves a greater claim on your attention (and purse) than most. It's a real find.

--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 31, 2010

  • UPC: 747313223671

  • Catalog Number: 8572236

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Marcel Tyberg

  • Conductor: JoAnn Falletta

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Performer: Michael Ludwig, Roman Mekinulov, Ya-Fei Chuang