Tyberg: Masses

South Dakota Chorale / Brian A. Schmidt

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Tyberg: Masses Review

by James Manheim

Give a hand first of all for the South Dakota Chorale. Perhaps the strongest and most distinctively homegrown aspect of the American classical music scene is its choral music, but even within that context this group, in a chilly Midwestern city of 175,000, stands out. The group not only has clean intonation and articulation, but also, under its conductor Brian A. Schmidt, captures the particular expressive quality of these two masses. For a group of recent vintage, the album shows what can be done with hard work and civic commitment. The figure of Tyberg, too, is worth rediscovery. Although only 1/32 Jewish, he died at Auschwitz after his mother was foolish enough to report this fact to occupying Nazis; they spread the lie that he had committed suicide. These masses generally fall into late Romantic tonality, but have a simple, intimate character. It's as if Bruckner had deliberately set out to write music for student choirs. Whether that is the sense of the odd title Messe de fascile is not clear, but nothing in it would be beyond a choir of young people, and its short, perfectly proportioned movements are Romantic in one way and entirely atypical of Romanticism in another. Sample the Gloria of this mass. Both masses have substantial parts for the organ, and the recording team from the Dutch audiophile label PentaTone, operating in what must have been largely unfamiliar, mid-American venues (the album was made at Lincoln, Nebraska's First-Plymouth Congregational Church), has produced truly splendid results in which the organ of Christopher Jacobson resounds, but never overwhelms the chorale. Highly recommended for audiophile listeners and a worthwhile discovery for anyone.

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