Marcel Tyberg: Symphony No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 2 / Fabio Bidini, piano; JoAnn Falletta


This is the second CD from Naxos devoted entirely to the music of Marcel Tyberg (1893-1944). In fact, aside from these two Naxos CDs, I haven't found evidence that any others have ever been issued. The earlier release offered Tyberg's Third Symphony and the Piano Trio in F major (NXS 8572236). This recent title contains Tyberg's Symphony no. 2 and Piano Sonata no. 2. Music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic since 1999, JoAnn Falletta leads her fine orchestra in the Second Symphony and Fabio Bidini performs the piano sonata.

These two works are from 1927 and 1934 respectively, but never does Tyberg's music convincingly leave the 19th-century. The composer's commitment to the principles of the Romantic era is unfailing. Echoes of Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Wagner abound, but the composer who most came to mind while listening to the symphony was Bruckner. I don't get to say that about a composer very often. Not often enough, actually; it's wonderful to hear Bruckner's influence so clearly exhibited.

The sample from the album accompanying this recommendation is the beginning of the third movement Scherzo. You can hear Bruckner's influence plainly here - the slow deliberate building of intensity, the passing of thematic cells from one instrument family to another and the highly contrasting and lyrical second theme are all examples. The influence of other composers can be heard here too; listen to Tybergs fugal treatment of the first theme at about 30 seconds in. This music could easily have come from Mendelssohn. Perhaps all this suggests Tyberg was a composer who was not completely original, but it doesn't take away from how enjoyable the music is.

Listeners who are on the lookout for something fresh from the Romantic period might overlook this album because of when Tyberg lived, but I assure you, these are the very music lovers who will enjoy this music the most.

Conductor JoAnn Falletta talks about Naxos' Tyberg project and the sad story of the composer's demise