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.
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.
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.
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.
Pianist Fabio Bidini performs the sonata with relish, delivering the music with all its inherent drama and brio.
Marcel Tyberg: Symphony No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 2
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor; Fabio Bidini, piano