Chamber Music with Piano by Paul Juon

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My first introduction to the music of Paul Juon was through a Challenge Classics set of his music for piano trio (CHL 72002). This was a good ten or more years ago and while I couldn’t hum any of the tunes, I do recall clearly that I enjoyed the music immensely. So when this new cpo disc of Juon’s Piano Sextet Op. 22 in C minor and his Piano Quintet Op. 44 in F major came along, the shrink wrap came off really fast.

The music of Paul Juon (1872 – 1940) has been enjoying an increase in attention and reputation over the past few years. Most of what has been recorded has been his chamber music, which also makes up the bulk of his output. His music is easy to listen to - tonal and melodic with a Russian flair and clear romantic roots. His fellow student, Sergei Rachmaninov called him “the Russian Brahms”, and indeed, this is the composer that most comes to mind while listening to his music. Juon characterizes his own works as “rather harsh and of gloomy Nordic coloration… [with] influences from Russian folk music” which he loved very much. He had a predilection for irregular rhythms; even polyrhythmic passages occur. It’s both enjoyable and interesting to listen to.

The performances on this cpo CD are by the Carmina Quartett with pianist Oliver Triendl and the second cello part of the sextet played by Thomas Grossenbacher. I couldn’t find a sample of the works on this CD to ‘You-Tube’ for you, however, here’s his Sextet for Piano and Winds, which gives a good idea of what his music sounds like.