I defy the average educated listener not to call out the name of Anton Bruckner within seconds of the start of Marcel Tyberg’s Second Symphony. The cut of the melodies, the rhythms, the sectional construction, and the scoring are utterly characteristic of the Viennese master—who died in 1896, three years after Tyberg was born. Read more style="font-style:italic">Most curious. That impression continues throughout the first movement, and off and on (but mostly on) throughout the entire symphony. Indeed, the thing that is least Brucknerian about Tyberg’s symphony, which was composed in 1927, is that it is barely 42 minutes long. (To be fair, there’s a bit of Korngold as the symphony reaches its conclusion.) In other words, Tyberg concludes his movements just when Bruckner would have been getting his second wind. I am astonished that Bruckner’s name does not come up once in the entirety of Edward Yadzinski’s booklet note. Perhaps he thought mentioning it would have been the epitome of obviousness. I’m not really suggesting that Tyberg’s Second is on a par with Bruckner’s symphonies—at times it sounds a little awkwardly put together, and too terse—but it is a fascinating, fascinating near miss, and really very enjoyable, and if this disc doesn’t get wide exposure, at least because Tyberg’s unknown symphony is so doggedly familiar (!), then there is no justice in the world. Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic play the heck out of it, by the way, and Naxos’s engineering is lustrous.
The Piano Sonata No. 2 is no less fine. Bruckner wrote no piano sonatas, I believe, but Brahms completed three of them, and there are times when Tyberg’s sturdy, 33-minute sonata sounds as if it is aiming to be “Brahms’s Fourth.” The hyper-masculine opening gesture, for example, and the feminine response that it receives, would hardly be out of place in Brahms. Other influences appear in this sonata, however, including, strangely enough, Szymanowski. Again, call this music derivative if you like, but there’s no escaping that Tyberg’s lack of innovation is not dull but really rather delightful, given the attractiveness of the material. Pianist Bidini makes a very good case for it, playing it with plenty of romantic temperament, and with steely wrists and fingers.
I missed Naxos’s earlier Tyberg release (8.572236) in which his Third Symphony is paired with his Piano Trio. Jerry Dubins and Robert Markow both welcomed it strongly; in fact, it made the latter reviewer’s Want List in 2011. There also was a feature article in Fanfare 34: 2 in which Falletta discussed Tyberg. To make a long story short, Tyberg, who had a Jewish relative several generations back, was a victim of the Nazis and died in 1944. He spent his young years in Vienna, but around the time of the Second Symphony, he relocated to what today is part of Italy. Shortly before his deportation, he entrusted his music manuscripts to a friend, and they were passed on to that friend’s son, who ended up in Buffalo. After spending years trying to interest various conductors in Tyberg’s scores, he finally attracted Falletta’s attention. She recognized the music’s worth, and if a Tyberg revival is in the works, we can thank her, and the efforts of the Marcel Tyberg Musical Legacy Fund of the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies in Buffalo.
Knowing that I have a tendency to be excitable, I don’t want to overdo my praise for this music or for this release, but glorioski, this is enjoyable stuff.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Marcel Tyberg’s Second Symphony sounds a bit like Bruckner for people who hate Bruckner. It features thematic material uncannily similar to Tyberg’s Austrian predecessor, only married to a more traditional, pithy approach to form. It lasts just 42 minutes, and so in comparison confirms Bruckner’s own originality, or incompetence, depending on your perspective. There’s nothing here that might make you sit up and say, “Aha, that must be Tyberg,” but it is beautifully scored, well-made music nonetheless. The Adagio is particularly lovely, basically diatonic in harmony, but with tunes that never go exactly where you expect them to. Had Tyberg survived the Second World War and written more in this vein, we might go so far as to call it “personal”.
The Piano Sonata No. 2 dwells squarely in the world of Beethoven and Brahms, but again with remarkable success. It’s a large work in four movements, and even more than in the symphony the centerpiece is an Adagio drawn on a very large scale. The finale, so often the Achilles’ heel in Romantic music, is actually the shortest movement, but full of contrast and quite satisfying, thus revealing that Tyberg’s classical sympathies go beyond mere imitation.
The sonata is very well played by Fabio Bidini, a pianist who takes its challenges in stride and shapes each movement quite effectively. As in the previous release in this series, JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic take charge of the orchestral component, offering a performance of the symphony full of character and conviction. The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies in Buffalo sponsored this recording through its Marcel Tyberg Musical Legacy Fund. That such a thing even exists is just one of those facts that makes you feel good about life, as does Tyberg’s music. Go for it.
A sad tale, but worthy musicNovember 9, 2013By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Marcel Tyberg left his compositions in the care of a family friend before he was captured and murdered by the Nazis in 1944. The manuscripts made their way to America, and came to the attention of Buffalo Philharmonic Music Director JoAnn Falletta. The result is this splendid disc, along with a previous recording by Naxos of Tyberg's Third Symphony. As sad and compelling as this story is, the music has great power in its own right. The Second Symphony, written under the strong influence of Anton Bruckner, is majestic and lyrical. There is lightness in the Scherzo, and a glowering and transformative neo-classical Preludium and Fugue at the end. The BPO is in splendid form, and Falletta keeps the music going, so as not to fall into the trap of over-sentimentality. The Second Piano Sonata was written in 1920, but eschews modernism in favour of a quiet romanticism reminiscent of Brahms. Pianist Fabio Bidini proves a more than capable champion of this interesting music that looks back to a different world. Kudos to Naxos for bringing this music to a wider audience."Report Abuse
Highly RecommendedOctober 10, 2013By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"Austrian composer Marcel Tyberg's career (and life) was cut short by the Second World War. Despite being a devout Roman Catholic, he was arrested by the Nazis in 1943 because his great grandfather was Jewish. Fortunately, he entrusted his music to a friend before his death in 1944 en route to Auschwitz. <br />
Tyberg didn't compose many works, but the quality of them makes one wonder how he would have fared in a less toxic atmosphere. His second symphony, finished in 1931 is a big, post-romantic composition and reminded me of Erich Korngold's symphonic works. Tyberg seems more influenced by Beethoven than Brahms, however, with simple motives building and transforming themselves in rigorously logical fashion. The overarching themes were expressive examples of post-romanticism -- not as memorable as Rachmaninov's but still quite moving. <br />
JoAnne Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic are thoroughly invested in this work, and that dedication shows. Falletta lets the music stand on its own strengths. The performance presents a well-constructed symphony that should be immediately appealing to most listeners. <br />
Coupled with the symphony is Tyberg's second piano sonata from 1934. Tyberg was a pianist and organist, and his composition takes full advantage of the instrument. The work ranges over the keyboard, with plenty of Liszt-inspired gestures. If Nicolai Medtner wrote more tightly organized music, he might have composed something along these lines. <br />
Pianist Fabio Bidini performs the sonata with relish, delivering the music with all its inherent drama and brio."Report Abuse