Symphony No. 3 Piano Trio
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Rescued from oblivion before his tragic death in Auschwitz in 1944, Marcel Tyberg' Symphony No. 3 sets out on a poetic journey with shades of Schumann and Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler, playful instrumental filigrees, colourful counterpoint and captivating
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On the evidence of this CD, Tyberg is a very good composer, but not quite a great one. His melodic gift is certainly good enough to carry both of these pieces. And there's real ingenuity and craft present throughout them both; Tyberg not only knew how to come up with a good tune -- he knew what to do with that tune once he had it. Let's hope we get a chance to hear and evaluate more of his music. Can Naxos talk Ms. Falletta into recording the Second Symphony? (UPDATE: Naxos did, and the Second is now available.)
In the symphony, the Bruckner- and Mahlerisms are a lot more than just suggestions. In particular, the first movement, after an opening right out of Mahler's Seventh, is under a strong Bruckner influence, and the second (the scherzo) almost out-Mahlers Mahler. But this isn't a case of ripping off a predecessor -- Tyberg is putting their idiom to his own use, not copying it. The third movement (adagio) is eloquent; it's almost as if Tyberg were writing his own musical eulogy. In strong contrast, the finale of the symphony resembles one of those "optimistic" symphonic finales from an American symphony of the Thirties or Forties -- names like Randall Thompson, Piston, Harris, and Schuman come to mind. But there's no jarring disjunction -- it fits in well with what precedes it.
Just about every review I've read of this CD points out the strong influence of Brahms and Schumann in the piano trio. I have no quarrel with that. Even if this isn't truly the second coming of Brahms, it's the arrival of a highly successful disciple. The trio is melodic and solidly crafted, and it treats all three instruments to a good workout. This would be a great "Who wrote this?" piece for stumping musically knowledgeable friends.
It's hard to judge the quality of the performances without a score and with no other recordings for comparison. But my impression is that Falletta and the orchestra took their task seriously, prepared well, and played at the top of their ability. The playing in the trio is fluid and idiomatic. As to recording quality, my elderly ears don't work as well as they used to, so all I can say is that the sonics never bothered me.
If you fall anywhere on the Schumann/Brahms/Bruckner/Mahler axis you don't just want this CD -- you need it!
[Added 5/16/11 -- The comment appended to this review is in substance a stand-alone review, and I have no idea why the author didn't just post it as such. I recommend giving it a look; I think it's as worthwhile as mine and the others posted here.]
The first movement reflects Talbeg's organ skills, building through sequences of blocks similar to the changes in registration that are so prevalent in the works of Bruckner. The end movement shares many similarities with Mahler, sudden transitions with open scoring, all mixed with a variety of fits and starts. The third movement could have been written by either Korngold or Wolf-Ferrari. Everytime I listen to it, I find my emotional responses alter between the tragic and the passionate. The fourth movement is a worthy conclusion to the symphony, but I find it less memorable or cosistent with the others. If Talberg has survived and been able to hear this work performed, I suspect he would have made alterations to this movement.
The CD also contains a chamber music work.
Now I eagerly anticipate recordings of the other two symphonies and other works. Talberg was a friend of Rafael Kubelik who had performed the 2nd symphony in Czechoslovakia.
The story of how this symphony came to light is amazing and touching. Tyberg was of Jewish descent and prior to the full onslaught of Nazi antisemitic genocide asked a friend, Dr Milan Mihich, to store his scores just in case something happened to him. Tyberg was soon after interned at Auschwitz and executed in 1944. The scores remained in the custody of the Mihich family and a son, Dr Enrico Mihich, eventually became an associate at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. When Dr Mihich met the Buffalo Philharmonic conductor, Joann Falletta, he asked her if she would be interested in seeing the scores. She did, felt that there was some really worthwhile music there, and arranged a première with her orchestra which took place in 2008. Naxos, in its tireless efforts to record out of the way music, has released the performance. As discmate for the symphony two of the principal string players from the BPO -- violinist Michael Ludwig and cellist Roman Mekulinov -- along with pianist Ya-Fei Chuang have recorded Tyberg's Piano Trio in F Major.
The symphony, written in 1943, is in the usual four movements and calls for a large orchestra that includes Wagner tubas, heckelphone and bass trumpet. It lasts thirty-seven minutes, about half the length of either a Mahler or Bruckner symphony. It is extremely melodic, has attractive orchestration and rhythmic variety and in particular has an Adagio that is emotionally expressive to the point of being almost heart-breaking in its intensity. (I will admit that perhaps my response is due at least partly to my knowing Tyberg's fate, but it is indeed a gorgeous movement.) The Allegro finale has an engagingly melodic and rhythmically syncopated heroic initial theme that gets the full late romantic symphonic workout. If this symphony is not taken up by other orchestras I would be surprised. I haven't been as excited by a newly discovered romantic symphony since the reconstruction of Elgar's Third.
The Piano Trio is from 1935-36 and sounds a lot more like Brahms or Schumann than Mahler or Bruckner. Its melodies sound fresh and original however they may resemble those of older composers. It is tightly constructed and has an exciting rondo finale. It is given a terrific performers by these Buffalo musicians.
We're told that there may be more pieces in the works -- piano sonatas, a sextet, a Second Symphony (which, incidentally, was given its première under Rafael Kubelik, a conservatory friend of Tyberg's). I can hardly wait.
Indeed the first movement of his Symphony #3 recalls Mahler's 7th Symphony. Nocturnal in it's soundworld, it is tonal and easy to enjoy. It does not contain the weight of Mahler's phantasmagoric creation but it effectively creates the proper atmosphere. The 2nd movement Scherzo is once again strikingly Mahlerian in character. One could easily mistake this movement as one of Mahler's creations. It is slightly less complicated but every bit as rewarding to listen to. The 3rd movement Adagio is beautiful. Tyberg creates a lovely melody and solo instuments have a chance to shine. It is direct and lovely as it flows through changes in key and timbre. This is pastoral music that is as much of the daytime as it may be of night. Subtle and gently noble. The 4th movement is a rousing Rondo. Again, akin to Mahler 7 but not quite as busy and madcap. It is a brilliant, uplifting way to end this poignant testament to a most gifted composer.
The Piano Trio owes an obvious debt to Beethoven and Brahms. The influence of Mendelssohn is present as well. It is hardly highly original but perfectly crafted. If you look at it as a homage to the great master's mentioned, it would be impossible to not enjoy it. It is passionate and purposeful. Beethoven would have been proud! Schubert too. It is so songful and soulful.
In conclusion, this is not music looking to create a new language in composition. It is created with a firm grasp, understanding and affection for all that came before the avant-garde age in which Tyberg lived. God knows we could all be better for becoming aquainted with these marvelous works.
Kudos to JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic for a superlative performance of the Symphony. The soloists in the Piano Trio are outstanding in every way. The Naxos sound is first-rate throughout.
A victim of the Holocaust, it is believed that Marcel Tyberg died on a deportation train that was en route to Germany on New Years Eve, 1944. A tragic loss to the music world, no doubt. However, his music is performed once again, in fine fashion by Maestro Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Not to be missed!
The symphony is a marvelous post-romantic work, and reminds me very much of Bruckner’s 4th Symphony without in any way sounding derivative. Tyberg’s melodies are full-bodied and bursting with energy. The Scherzo is a particular delight, and the adagio is absolutely gorgeous.
It’s a bittersweet listening experience. The symphony stands on its own merits, but it makes one wonder what Tyberg might have accomplished had he lived.
Coupled with the Symphony is the piano trio from 1936. Like the symphony, it’s a lush, romantic work with plenty of opportunities for all the players to shine. In a video promoting this release, JoAnn Falletta stated she’s fallen in love with Tyberg’s music. And her performance shows it.