JoAnn Falletta / Fabio Bidini / Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Marcel Tyberg: Symphony No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 2

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The continuing revelation of the number of Jewish composers who died during the Holocaust reminds one that composers aren't generally a wealthy lot, and that those with the wherewithal to get out of Germany were in the minority. The general level of the music is strikingly high. If this release of compositions by the largely forgotten Marcel Tyberg is less revelatory than, say, the music of Pavel Haas, it nevertheless may be of interest to those seeking a fuller picture of the period. Tyberg was seized and transported on the concentration-camp train where he died not because he himself professed the Jewish faith, but because he had a great-great-grandfather who had. He was a teacher in Abbazia, Italy (now Opatija, Croatia), on the Adriatic coast, and he was a friend of Rafael Kubelik, who programmed the Symphony No. 2 in F minor heard here with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. That work is based on Brahms' symphonies, with hints of Bruckner and Mahler, and with the prelude-and-fugue finale a clear homage to the Baroque-structured finale of the Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98. The overall flavor is of someone trying to imitate and update Brahms without quite being capable of the web of motivic relationships that can keep you listening to Brahms for a lifetime. The Piano Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor, composed in 1934, is the more interesting work, with Beethoven the clear model but byways that cover Wagner as well as Brahms. The two works were recorded at different times and places, apparently not with an eye toward including them in the same release, but there is nothing to complain of in the performances of the symphony by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the indefatigable JoAnn Falletta, who has single-handedly expanded the 20th-century repertory substantially, and of the piano sonata by Fabio Bidini. An hour of well-crafted Romantic music that happens to date from the early years of the Nazi horror.

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