On CD: A forgotten composer's 3rd symphony
by Mark J. Estren
Marcel Tyberg: Symphony No. 3; Piano Trio in F. Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta (Symphony); Michael Ludwig, violin; Roman Mekinulov, cello; Ya-Fei Chuang, piano (Trio). Naxos.
Buffalo Philharmonic Music Director JoAnn Falletta has made a most unusual recording to mark the start of the orchestra’s 75th anniversary season: an album of orchestral and chamber music by Marcel Tyberg (1893-1944), an otherwise wholly unknown composer. Tyberg, of Jewish ancestry, died at Auschwitz after entrusting his music to a family by the name of Mihich. Six decades later, a member of that family — a doctor at a major Buffalo hospital — intrigued Falletta by showing her some Tyberg manuscripts.
This recording is the result. The orchestra has never sounded better, and the performers in Tyberg’s Piano Trio bring warmth, empathy and strongly communicated emotion to the music.
(read more after the jump)
But without understanding how special this release is from a biographical and historical-rediscovery standpoint, listeners may be disappointed by the music, which is very old-fashioned to have been written in the 1930s. Both the symphony and the trio invite listeners to say, “That sounds like Schumann!” and “Mendelssohn!” and “How Brahmsian!” It is difficult to point to anything in either work of which one could say, “That is unmistakably a new voice — that is true Tyberg.”
The Piano Trio reflects Brahms almost throughout, and the symphony’s Scherzo is so Mahlerian that in other hands (say, those of Shostakovich), it would come across as parody. Tyberg’s music is well- crafted and earnest, tuneful and filled with seriousness of purpose and harmonic mastery. But, except in a very few details, it could have been written by, say, Ferdinand Ries or Charles Stanford — admirable craftsmen who refined an older musical language in small ways without really advancing it. This Tyberg album is eminently listenable, but for all the music’s rarity, listeners will feel as if they have heard much of it before.
— Mark J. Estren
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