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TYBERG, M.: Symphony No. 3 / Piano Trio (M. Ludwig, Mekinulov, Ya-Fei Chuang, Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta)

Naxos 8.572236

   Fanfare, November 2011
   The Juilliard Journal Online, October 2011
   Fanfare, May 2011
   Bangkok Post, January 2011
   Fanfare, January 2011
   American Record Guide, November 2010
   Classical Lost and Found, October 2010
   MusicWeb International, October 2010
   The Dallas Morning News, September 2010
   WRUV Reviews, September 2010
   The Washington Post, September 2010
   All About Jazz, September 2010
   Classical Candor, September 2010
   Film Music: The Neglected Art, September 2010
   Leonard Link, September 2010
   David's Review Corner, September 2010, September 2010
   Toronto Star, August 2010
   The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, August 2010
   Classical Music Sentinel, August 2010

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Robert Markow
Fanfare, November 2011

…Marcel Tyberg (1893–1944) wrote richly romantic music with strong echoes of Bruckner, Mahler, Zemlinsky, and Szymanowski in his Third Symphony. …the symphony unfolds in bold colors and sweeping gestures. 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. Performances are first-rate.

Bruce Hodges
The Juilliard Journal Online, October 2011

…the fruits of [Falletta’s] work are audible on this valuable new recording, shedding light on a composer who—like others who perished similarly—is only being recognized decades after his death.

Sensitive work from violinist Michael Ludwig…cellist Roman Mekinulov…and pianist Ya-Fei Chuang make Tyberg’s lyric gifts come to life, in a reading perhaps tinged with a slight sadness, given how that life would end. © 2012 The Juilliard Journal Online Read complete review

Robert Markow
Fanfare, May 2011

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.

Bangkok Post, January 2011

What would our concert programmes be like today if the Nazis had not murdered so many European Jewish composers and performing artists who might have drawn attention to their work? Over the past decades new names and works keep emerging. For a while, the Decca label was issuing an entire series of what the fascists called entartete Musik (“degenerate music”), which included both pieces that were labelled as degenerate because they were composed by Jews, and those that were to be despised because of their Modernist tendencies.

Most of the music that appeared on those Decca discs was by composers who were already known, and much of it had been recorded before. But here we have a Naxos release of music by a composer whose name was probably unknown to almost all listeners until now.

Marcel Tyberg was a partly Jewish Austrian pianist and composer who is thought to have died in Auschwitz on New Year’s Eve in 1944. The two works on this recent Naxos release survived purely by chance under interesting circumstances.

According to Edward Yadzinski’s liner notes to this recording, Tyberg was a close friend of an Italian physician and music lover named Dr Milan Mihich who lived in Abbazia, then part of Italy. When the German occupiers moved in the composer knew that he would probably be arrested and gave his manuscript scores to the doctor for safe keeping. These eventually came into the possession of Mihich’s son Enrico, a cancer specialist who now works in Buffalo, New York. In 2005 he brought them to the attention of the conductor JoAnn Falletta, who premiered the Third Symphony with the Buffalo Philharmonic and has given the work its first recording on this disc.

It is clear that the Nazi cultural police could have had no quarrel with either of the pieces recorded here on the basis of Modernist tendencies. One of the most interesting features of the music is its composer’s seemingly complete lack of interest in any of the developments that were changing music so radically during the opening decades of the last century. Most of the Third Symphony and all of the piano trio could easily have been written before 1910, and by a composer who had no idea what Schoenberg, Debussy and other innovative composers were up to.

Annotator Yadzinski mentions the “shades of Bruckner and reflecting glances at Mahler” that can be heard in the music, and it is certainly true that echoes of those composers will be clear to most listener before they have heard even five minutes of the Third Symphony’s first movement. The similarity to Mahler is almost too close for comfort in the second, Scherzo movement, and it also seems likely that Tyberg was an admirer of Suk’s Asrael Symphony.

But coming through all of these influences is a personal voice, and one that is expressing deep feelings. Listening to the symphony for the first time, some listeners may be distracted by the debts to other composers that keep surfacing. But in my own case I found that with repeated hearings the music drew me in and became persuasive and captivating. Tyberg was not a gifted melodist, but he knew how to draw feeling from unpromising material. Listen to the Adagio third movement, the heart of the symphony, played here with obvious conviction by Falletta and her Buffalo musicians.

The four-note idea dominates it is so simple it is almost banal, but during the course of the movement emotion builds—the music seems to be aspiring to something—to the point where strong warning gesture at 3:30 is powerfully dramatic. When the movement is rescued, through a passage of lyrical writing for solo violin, flute, and cello to eventually achieve a triumphant conclusion, listeners will be grateful to Dr Mihich for bringing the score to Maestro Falletta’s attention and not allowing it to languish in the basement.

The Piano Trio, written in 1936, is an attractive piece but for me the similarity of its expressive style to that of Brahms kept forcing comparisons that were not to its advantage. Brahms’s ability to melt receptive listeners on the spot with harmonic wizardry is not shared by Tyberg, so here the uninspired melodic ideas spring no surprises and can feel overworked. The composer tries hard, but for me the Sempre cantabile central Adagio never really sings very compellingly.

The performance sounds impassioned and fully committed, however, and Naxos’s excellent recorded sound helps the musicians to make their case for the work.

I would recommend this release primarily for the fine performance and recording of the Third Symphony. No masterpiece, perhaps, but an often beautiful work that is a welcome addition to the repertoire.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, January 2011

Turnaround time these days seems to grow shorter and shorter. Just one issue back (Fanfare 34:2), in an interview with JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Ed Yadzinski, the orchestra’s official archivist, I noted that one of the projects in the pipeline was a disc of works by Marcel Tyberg (1893–1944). And here it is, barely two months later.

To recap: Tyberg (pronounced TEE-berg) was a Viennese composer, conductor, and pianist who, despite being only one-16th Jewish, perished, along with his music, or so it was thought, at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Then in 2005, many if not all of his works were uncovered in the basement of a Buffalo doctor, Enrico Mihich. A lengthy and detailed article about Tyberg on Wikipedia states that “The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies, in conjunction with Dr. Mihich and JoAnn Falletta of the Buffalo Philharmonic, have funded a performance of three lieder, two piano sonatas, and the copying of his Trio, Sextet and Third Symphony.” Before the war Tyberg was not exactly unknown. He wrote a considerable volume of music, including three symphonies that are said to be on the scale of Mahler, and some of his works were performed by Rafael Kubelík in Prague and Italy.

To this Falletta added, “The music of Marcel Tyberg has been an extraordinary discovery for the BPO. I remember clearly the day when Dr. Henry Mihich visited me at Kleinhans, carrying a bulging shopping bag filled with hand-written scores of his former teacher, who had entrusted the music to his father before he was taken to Auschwitz and killed. It took a great deal of time trying to decipher the handwriting and much more to get to the heart of the music, but it was so worth the effort! This is extraordinarily beautiful music, filled with echoes of Mahler, Bruckner, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, yet emerging as a truly individual voice. Bringing the Third Symphony to life for the first time was a real community effort for the BPO; all of our musicians became musical detectives in examining their parts for inconsistencies and errors, and drawing on all their musical knowledge and imagination in interpreting the music. Our concertmaster, Michael Ludwig, and principal cellist, Roman Mekinulov, were heroic in their scholarship and dedication in creating compelling performances and recording of Tyberg’s trio with pianist colleague Ya-fei Chuang.”

Scale-wise, at least, it may be a bit of a stretch to name Mahler as an antecedent to Tyberg’s Third Symphony. The score, completed in the late 1930s, plays for just under 37 minutes. Even Mahler’s shortest symphony, the No. 1, without the “Blumine” movement, plays for 20 minutes longer. Moreover, Tyberg’s orchestration, while employing large contingents of brass and winds, does not employ Mahler’s wide array of exotic percussion instruments. But this relates to only two aspects of the music, its dimensions and its instrumentation. Content and style are something else. Anyone familiar with Mahler could not miss the connection between the opening brass fanfare of Tyberg’s symphony and the trumpet flourish that leads off the funeral cortège in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. But there similarities end.

Later massed brass passages are more reminiscent of Bruckner, while striding string themes and contrapuntal commentary in the winds call to mind Strauss’s tone poems. Try, for example, the passage beginning at 4:35 in the first movement for a moment that sounds like a page out of Ein Heldenleben. Tyberg’s writing makes strong alliance with the late 19th- and early 20th-century Austro-German Romantic composers. His is a ripe, richly textured, lushly scored, passionate music for which the Second Viennese School—Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg—hasn’t happened yet.

It’s easy to level the criticism, as academics often do, that such works represent a reactionary retreat in the face of 20th-century modernist movements. Yet one almost never hears this charge against Rachmaninoff any more—his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Symphony No. 3, and Symphonic Dances were all written at the same time as, and are just as romantic as, Tyberg’s symphony. Once upon a time not so very long ago, it wasn’t fashionable for the musical elite to admit Rachmaninoff to their exclusive club, much less acknowledge him as a great composer. The 1954 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians characterized Rachmaninoff’s music as “monotonous in texture and consisting mainly of artificial and gushing tunes,” predicting that his popular success was “not likely to last.” Worse, he was seen as having gone over to the dark side with his Hollywood connections, his love of fast cars, and his extravagant lifestyle. But in the end, the only opinion that really counted was the clunking of the cash registers, which kept raking in the dough regardless of what the critics said.

Beautiful music is beautiful music, no matter who writes it or when it’s written, and Tyberg’s Symphony No. 3 is beautiful music indeed. It is chock full of memorable melodies; it’s brilliantly orchestrated, formally satisfying, and emotionally fulfilling; and if you love being cocooned in the plush fabric of a magnificent orchestral tapestry, Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic are spinners and weavers extraordinaire.

The F-Major Piano Trio is dated 1936, which places it at approximately the same time as the symphony, perhaps a year or two earlier. I’ve listened to it a number of times now, yet I’m still somewhat stymied as to how to describe it. What I can say is that with the statement of the first movement’s second theme beginning at 1:55, Tyberg writes a melody of such beguiling beauty that it will take your breath away and haunt you for the rest of your days. And still, I don’t know what to compare it to. It’s a melody that only an Austrian or German composer could write if he were French, and that only a French composer could write if he were Austrian or German. By this I mean that it sighs with all the weltschmerz of Schumann and Brahms, but exudes the fragrance and flows with the fluidity of Chausson and Fauré.

The first-movement melody is no fluke, for Tyberg hits upon another memorable one in the exquisite Adagio. With the last movement, I think I can finally put my finger on a composer or two who might have been a distant influence on Tyberg, and they would be Franz Xaver Scharwenka and Ignace Jan Paderewski. Tyberg’s finale, a dotted-rhythm dance-like Rondo, speaks with a bit of that Polish and/or Gypsy accent that one hears in their works. My only regret is that Tyberg gives us only three-movements instead of four. One wishes to prolong the rapture.

Performance of the trio by Michael Ludwig, Roman Mekinulov, and Ya-Fei Chuang is vibrant and tonally alluring. Though Fanfare’s 2011 season has just begun, it’s hard for me to imagine this release not being on my year-end Want List.

Herman Trotter
American Record Guide, November 2010

JoAnn Falletta and her augmented Buffalo Philharmonic play with a wonderful breadth of sound, a palpable sense of excitement, and the thrill of discovery. Naxos offers balanced and vividly transparent sound. So it’s hard to imagine this premier recording surpassed.

To read complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, October 2010


Naxos pulls another rabbit out of its hat of unknown musical treasures with these two works by a man who was a victim of the Holocaust. Austrian pianist, conductor and composer Marcel Tyberg (1893-1944) was born and studied in Vienna, before the vicissitudes of World War I (1914-18) prompted his family to move to Abbazia, Italy in 1916.

After his father's death in 1927, he continued living there, supporting himself and his mother by teaching, playing the organ in local churches, and composing ballroom dances (under the pseudonym Till Bergmar), as well as a substantial body of serious music. Although impressionism, neoclassicism and serialism were all the rage back then, he chose to ignore them and remained a dyed-in-the-wool romanticist.

Tyberg completed his four-movement third symphony in the fall of 1943. Sadly it would be his last as the times they were a-changin' with the Nazi takeover of Italy. To wit, when word got out he had a Jewish great-grandfather, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and eventually detained in Auschwitz, where on New Year's Eve of 1944 he become part of 'The Final Solution'.

Fortunately Tyberg had seen the handwriting on the wall, and entrusted all his scores to an Italian doctor friend. These were later passed on to the doctor's son, who being a resident of Buffalo, New York, showed them to conductor JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO). The third symphony was among them, and Falletta was so impressed she and the BPO gave the first performance of it, which was soon followed by this recording.

The opening andante is fraught with sinister overcast brass passages that have more than a passing resemblance to the first movement of Gustav Mahler's (1860-1911) third symphony (1893-96, revised in 1906). There are also lilting moments reminiscent of Bruckner's (1824-1896) Romantic Symphony (No. 4, 1874, revised 1878-86) capped with manic Mahlerian bursts of sunshine for full orchestra. There's never an apathetic moment with the movement ending much like it began.

While Gustav's ghost also haunts the relatively brief scherzo, there's a 1930s dance band informality about it where the composer shows the Bergmar side of his character (see above). This and some saucy orchestration make it indigenous Tyberg, anticipating Erich Wolfgang Korngold's (1897-1957) symphony of 1951-52.

It's the perfect foil to the somber adagio that follows. This opens with the strings and brass singing a dark duet set to a mournful melody. But hope-filled solos for the violin, flute and oboe brighten the mood, and the movement ends with a warm autumnal glow.

The rollicking rondo that concludes the symphony has a recurring theme that could almost be out of a score for an American Western (see the Gallagher and Serebrier recommendations above). In that regard Jerome Moross' (1913-1983) main title for The Big Country (1958) comes to mind.

Tyberg really comes into his own here, presenting the listener with a panoply of musical images ingeniously derived from the main idea. This magnificently constructed jubilant music totally belies the fate of its creator, and dramatizes the tragedy of his early demise.

Next up, his piano trio of 1935-36, which qualifies along with the Foerster quartets (see the recommendation above) as one of the best chamber music finds of 2010. The first of its three movements is a sonata form allegro with the harmonic density of Brahms (1833-1897), but themes having a melodic lightness of touch that seems to be a Tyberg trademark. This also extends to the following adagio, which is a fetching wistful rhapsodic dialogue between the strings.

The rondo finale is more in line with Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) two piano trios (1839 and 1835). Here the agitated main idea undergoes a series of metamorphoses exploring every facet of its character. A sense of urgency pervades the whole movement, which ends with a shrug of the shoulders, leaving one anxious to explore Tyberg's other chamber music.

We have conductor Falletta and the BPO to thank for resurrecting this lost symphonic masterpiece. They deliver a magnificent account of it, making its return to the land of the living all the more significant. If the scores exist, maybe Naxos will also give us the first two symphonies.

Violinist Michael Ludwig, cellist Roman Mekinulov, and pianist Ya-Fei Chuang are our soloists for the trio. Their enthusiastic playing makes for an exciting interpretation of this treasurable chamber music, where it's easy to overlook a couple of intonational anomalies.

Both pieces were recorded in the Kleinhans Music Hall, home of the BPO.

William Hedley
MusicWeb International, October 2010

The Piano Trio is in three movements. The first movement is well constructed and is evidence that the composer possessed a fair melodic gift. Both stringed instruments, in particular, sing out, and control of line and texture is good. There are moments approaching something like passion, but overall the music is fairly easygoing. The second movement is also very melodious, with a mysterious central section where the composer allows himself rather more chromatic freedom than usual. The short finale is based on a rhythmic, dancing theme which is immediately attractive without being particularly distinctive. This judgement, indeed, could serve for the whole work.

The symphony was Tyberg’s final work. It opens in portentous gloom, with pizzicato lower strings and a solo from the tenor tuba. Bruckner is the composer who most immediately comes to mind at this point, and this symphonic opening brims with promise. As the movement progresses the mood alters, and further in it is Mendelssohn—but not, I think, Brahms—whose spirit is evoked. There’s a bit of Mahler in there too. That Tyberg was a highly accomplished musician is evident from the quality of the orchestral writing, a burnished, horn-rich sound, but with a clarity and transparency maintained even in the loudest passages. The second movement scherzo is dominated by a striking, rhythmic idea, but a greater composer would better have managed its development and transformation. The beautiful slow movement is perhaps the finest music on the disc, reaching a level of eloquence not achieved elsewhere. The finale is lively, light-hearted for the most part...The performances of both works are outstandingly good. That of the Trio, by two string principals of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the excellent Ya-Fei Chuang, makes as good a case as possible for it. I suppose a finer performance of the Symphony is theoretically possible, but I am unable to imagine it. The recording of both works is well up to the usual Naxos standards.

This is very enjoyable music, highly professional and accomplished...Perhaps Marcel Tyberg’s suitcase is hidden in the astounding mountain of suitcases one sees when one visits the sombre museum that Auschwitz has become. This disc is a fine memorial to him, and by extension, to many others, and thanks are due to the various charitable organisations that have contributed to the funding of it.

Scott Cantrell
The Dallas Morning News, September 2010

No, you probably haven’t heard of Marcel Tyberg, and before this CD landed in the in-box, I hadn’t either. He was an Austrian composer (1893-1944) who, listed as one-sixteenth Jewish, was a victim of the Nazis’ “final solution.” Just before he was shipped off, he gave his scores to an Italian physician for safekeeping.

They were passed on to the physician’s son, also a physician, who settled in Buffalo, N.Y. After vainly trying to get numerous musicians interested in the works, Dr Enrico Mihich finally succeeded with the Buffalo Philharmonic’s music director, JoAnn Falletta. In 2008, more than 60 years after Tyberg’s Third Symphony was composed during World War II , Falletta conducted its world premiere.

If you know your Mahler and Bruckner, prepare for a number of double takes. The opening tenor horn solo is a gesture right out of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony; it’s expanded in a musical language right out of Bruckner. So the symphony goes, alternating echoes, if never quotations, from those two composers. The slow movement, though, nudges closer to movie music—not a bad thing, but something of a surprise in context.

If this is retro fare for the 1940s, the 1936 Piano Trio looks further back. Imagine Mendelssohn and Schumann updated for an early 20th-century palm court, something a young Erich Wolfgang Korngold might’ve done. (Tyberg also composed dance music as Till Bergmar.)...appealing and well crafted, and they get skilled and sensitive performances here, admirably recorded.

WRUV Reviews, September 2010

Newly discovered work by a heretofor unknown composer Marcel Tyberg (1893–1944) who was executed in Auschwitz in 1944. Stored in a family home in Buffalo, the works were presented to the Buffalo Philharmonic for perusal, and accepted for performance. Elements of Brahms, Schumann, Mahler and Mendelssohn.

Mark J. Estren
The Washington Post, September 2010

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...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...This Tyberg album is eminently listenable...

C. Michael Bailey
All About Jazz, September 2010

Often, the story behind the music makes it that much more compelling. Marcel Tyberg was an Austrian composer of certain repute, his Symphony No. 2 being premiered by friend Rafael Kubelik in the early 1930s. But not much else was heard from this composer. Tyberg was a Jew, in danger of Gestapo deportment in 1943, who entrusted his music manuscripts to his close friend, Italian physician Milan Mihich. Tyberg is thought to have perished in Auschwitz within sight of the war’s end.

Mihich transferred the manuscripts to his son, oncologist Enrico, who, in turn, shared them with maestro JoAnn Falletta, who is currently performing the never-before-heard music with her Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. For every Marcel Tyberg, there were a dozen more unknown Jewish artists who died unheralded. Tyberg’s music is compelling for this story alone, but it is much more than that. It represents a lost testament, now found and profound.

His Symphony No. 3 was composed in 1943 and shows a symphonist in full bloom. The four movement, sonata-style composition is amazingly bright, sunny and hopeful to have been composed during the nadir of World War II. Tyberg shares a fondness for low brass with both Wagner and Bruckner, avoiding the often sluggish momentum of those two. His strings writing reflects more Brahms (and through Brahms, Beethoven) than Mahler or Richard Strauss. The “adagio” is stunning in its harmonic conception and tuneful in its approach. The finale sounds almost American in the sense that Aaron Copland captured the American spirit musically.

Where Bruckner composed cathedrals and Mahler, anger-therapy sessions, Tyberg wrote sunshine in its most organic form. Falletta and the Buffalo band perform just as crisply, the brass is shiny and the strings sharp, with sonics captured by the Naxos engineers. Falletta’s pacing is spot on, capturing this most important music...that was never heard before, composed by a saddened spirit going home.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, September 2010

Tyberg seems to have completed his Symphony No. 3 either in the late Thirties or early Forties, yet he never heard it performed in his lifetime, his dying (presumably) in a Nazi concentration camp (he was partly Jewish). The fact is, scholars know relatively little about his life, his music, or his death. What is clear is that before the Nazis sent him away, he entrusted his original scores to a friend, Dr. Milan Mihich and subsequently to Mihich’s son, Enrico.  Many years after moving to America and trying to get the music played, the younger Mihich eventually persuaded maestro JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic to look at it. Ms Falletta conducted the world première of the Third Symphony and records it here.

The Symphony No. 3 begins with a lengthy, sprawling, rhapsodic Andante maestoso, which alternates melodies that might have been at home in a work of Brahms or Schumann. Tyberg was clearly a poetic composer but one who wasn’t quite sure of his direction, so we get a lovely set of tunes in the opening movement that seem wholly unrelated to one another. Think of the beginning of the Bruckner Fourth, followed by bits and pieces of Mahler. It’s fascinating in a disjointed sort of way.

The second-movement Scherzo is bright and zippy, scooting along in a mock-heroic style. And that’s followed by a charming Andante that reminds us that Tyberg began composing at the very end of the Romantic period, and the modernists of the twentieth century had evidently not won him over.

The Symphony ends with a fairly brief and sprightly Rondo, playfully executed. One can see why Ms Falletta chose to unearth this music, as much of it can be delightful, if remarkably lightweight.

Accompanying the Symphony No. 3 on the program we find the composer’s Piano Trio in F major (1936), played by Michael Ludwig, violin, Roman Mekinulov, cello, and Ya-Fei Chuang, piano. Here again we experience Tyberg’s love of the nineteenth-century classics with which he undoubtedly grew up, because there are echoes everywhere in the three movements of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and again Brahms and Schumann. The soloists bestow on the work their utmost affection, and it comes off with an appealingly graceful lilt. The fact that the music seems more of a single piece helps, too, in persuading a listener of the composer’s worth.

The sound, recorded by Naxos in 2008–09, is big and close in both works, providing a very dramatic presentation, with plenty of impact. It’s a trifle soft, though, and in the Symphony, especially, it doesn’t always provide the greatest transparency. Still, it suits the changeable needs of the music well enough.

While it is a shame people didn’t know Tyberg better in his lifetime, we can be grateful to Ms Falletta for shedding new light on his musical gifts.

Film Music: The Neglected Art, September 2010

The D minor symphony eerily starts with a thumping of strings from the lower register followed by the introduction of a melody from a single horn. Other horns are added and the Andante is nicely developed in a typical Germanic fashion. The pace is quite slow but moves forward nicely using other themes that go between the reeds, strings, and horns but always returning to the main theme on the solo horn. This is assuredly written in a style from the late 19th century and I am reminded of Bruckner. The Scherzo while not as lively and dance like as many I’ve heard, it still moves at a quick enough pace. Again all sections of the orchestra participate in the development of the theme. This movement also sounds very much like it came out of the late 19th century from Brahms or any number of composers of that time frame. The Adagio is a thing of beauty performed quite eloquently by the Buffalo Philharmonic. They have the right feeling for the movement and deliver a touching emotion filled performance. I’m confident if Marcell were alive to have heard it there would be a tear in his eye. The lively tune in the Rondo is given the opportunity to be performed by all sections of the orchestra. This movement has more of a modern sound as it is very upbeat and full of life and the orchestra seems excited and full of energy. The 37 minutes went by far too quickly and I found myself never bored and my attention didn’t waiver from the work at all.

I am quite excited about this new work and it will become one that I will return to on a regular basis...I applaud the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta for stepping out of the box and bringing this new exciting work to us. It is well recorded and mastered and as always with Naxos it is a good value. It is also available as a digital download at Highly recommended.

Arthur S. Leonard
Leonard Link, September 2010

This new recording, probably the first ever made of Tyberg’s music, stems from the world premiere of Tyberg’s 3rd Symphony by Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic, and is filled out with a Piano Trio performed by some Buffalo Philharmonic string players and a local pianist. The symphony was recorded in 2008, the trio in 2009.

This music is a real discovery. The symphony would have been considered very conservative, indeed reactionary, in its time, heavily influenced by Bruckner and Mahler, but that’s of no significance from today’s vantage point. My impression on listening was that this piece could become a favorite of those who find Bruckner and Mahler appealing but too long-winded. The symphony, in four movements, lasts just under 37 minutes, about half the length of most Bruckner and Mahler symphonies. I think Bruckner has the heavier influence on the style of writing, while Mahler most influences the orchestration, but there are many other influences. Tyberg certainly knew his Dvorak! At any rate, I found the symphony very impressive, and Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic give it an ideal premiere performance, vigorous and affectionate, with terrific sound. The Buffalo orchestra probably has a smaller string section than the major orchestras from larger cities, but you couldn’t tell that from this recording, as they produce a full, sumptuous sound suitable to this late-romantic-style symphony.

The piano trio strikes me as very Brahmsian, and the musicians—Michael Ludwig, Roman Mekinulov, and Ya-Fei Chuang—give it a passionate performance. I found it a bit less striking than the symphony, but nonetheless worth hearing.

The entire recording justifies Naxos’ evident aim to provide the most exhaustive documentation of western (and even some eastern) music ever attempted by any record label. I hope those manuscript boxes yield up more Tyberg—let’s have some of the lieder!!—and I hope that the recording will convince conductors that this music should be played. I would consider it a prime candidate for the American Symphony Orchestra, for example. (Interestingly, my first exposure to Falletta was from her guest-conducting the ASO, back in the pre-Botstein era when guest conductors were common at their concerts.) Everybody connected with this project deserves hearty congratulations.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2010

Born into an Austrian musical family in 1893, Marcel Tyberg had an uneventful career as a local church organist and teacher, composing as and when he could. He never hit international musical headlines, but his Second Symphony was at least considered fit to receive its premiere by the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Rafael Kubelik. By now he was living in Italy, but as a Jew he feared the Nazi occupation of that country, giving all of his scores to a friendly Italian for safe keeping. Those anxieties were well founded, and he was eventually transported to Auschwitz where he was murdered. His scores did not resurface until 2005, when the son of the Italian showed them to the conductor, JoAnn Falletta. She was impressed and arranged the premiere of the Third Symphony with the Buffalo Symphony. In content it belonged to composers working in a complete generation before, and reminds me of the musical world of Josef Foerster, its background certainly more Czech than Austrian. It was composed just prior to his capture, and is in four movements, the first being as long as any two that followed. Strictly tonal, often lyrical, it has the benefit of a vibrant finale that is easy to like, and if harmonies are predictable the orchestration is certainly imaginative. I was even more delighted by the Piano Trio from 1936, a score that could hold its head high in the finest flowering of the late-Romantic era. Maybe the second movement’s theme is overused, but it really is ravishing, and the work is rounded-off by a lively Rondo. The Buffalo’s distinguished principal violin and cello is joined by the pianist, Ya-Fei Chuang, and are dedicated performers, the orchestra and conductor worthy champions of the Symphony.

David Hurwitz, September 2010

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.

John Terauds
Toronto Star, August 2010

We are lucky that Marcel Tyberg entrusted his musical manuscripts to a family physician before he was carted off by the Nazis in 1943, to eventually die at the Auschwitz death camp. The Third Symphony, not heard until its Buffalo Philhamonic premiere under music director JoAnn Falletta, is classically structured and rich in ideas as well as sheer beauty. The same is true of the gorgeous earlier Piano Trio, impressively played by orchestra principals and pianist Ya-Fei Chuang. It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving this music.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, August 2010

There is a fascinating story behind this wonderful, neo-Romantic work by an unjustly neglected composer. Austrian pianist and composer Marcel Tyberg was born, raised and trained in Vienna, the avant-garde cradle that produced Berg, Schoenberg and Webern, but Tyberg would have none of that. If his Third Symphony may be seen as typical of his mature output, it sounds more like Brahms than Mahler or even Bruckner - surprising for a work completed near the outbreak of WWII.

Tyberg enjoyed a close personal relationship with the family of an Italian physician and music lover, Dr. Milan Mihich. When Tyberg's partly Jewish ancestry became a cause for concern, Dr. Mihich accepted Tyberg's manuscript for safekeeping. Soon after, Tyberg was arrested, deported and perished in Auschwitz. The manuscript was inherited by Dr. Mihich's son, Dr. Enrico Mihich, who came to the United States, settled in Buffalo, and showed the score to maestra Falletta.

The work is a delight, taking one back in time to the Romantic era, remarkable in conception even as war was so close at hand. The Buffalo Philharmonic is guided with a sure hand by Falletta, sounding as good as any major orchestra before the public today.[Ours in Honolulu just folded]. The Piano Trio was added as a filler. Whatever its merits - and there are many - it comes as an anticlimax following the monumental symphony. An all-chamber music CD of Tyberg's works would have made more sense, while an overture or another short orchestral piece would make for better balance. Other than that minor quibble, I have no reservations in highly recommending this disc.

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, August 2010

Another brilliant mind lost in Auschwitz in 1944. Marcel Tyberg (1893–1944) was a talented and brilliant musician and composer. His works were highly regarded during his lifetime, and some were even premiered by conductors like Rafael Kubelik. The shadow of the late-Romantics looms large over his work and is in full evidence in this impressive Symphony No. 3 in D minor from 1943.

As soon as the first movement opens with determined horn calls, we are immediately reminded of the opening statement of Gustav Mahler's own Third Symphony. These two composers inhabit the same sound world. The whole movement displays a strong grasp of thematic development and orchestral color. The following Scherzo again employs typical Mahler gestures, but this time it shares a more demented character like late Mahler. As we enter the beautiful Adagio, it is obvious that Tyberg has come into his own. A better crafted slow movement would be hard to find, and based on its dark opening you would never guess it would end so beautifully. But with patient and methodical repetition of the opening motif, and an ever so gradual change of mood, the music attains an elevated level of bliss in the end. The final Allegro movement is off to an heroic start with an upbeat theme that gets tossed around and expertly manipulated until the whole symphony ends like the crack of a whip. Conductor JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra actually gave this symphony its premiere performance in concert, and deliver a top rank interpretation in this recording, with all of the orchestra's colors shining through.

The earlier Piano Trio in F major from 1936, performed here by Michael Ludwig (Violin), Roman Mekinulov (Cello) and Ya-Fei Chuang (Piano), displays the same level of craftmanship and dedication, by a composer described by some of his friends and colleagues as a “strange spiritual man who seemed to walk a step further on this earth than was granted to most humans.”

Again many thanks to the people at Naxos for unearthing yet another treasure, and saving it from the dark void of oblivion, and sharing the loot with all of us on this musical planet.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group