Piano Quintet No.2 in F Major, Op.44
Paul Juon's Piano Quintet No.2 in F Major, Op. 44 was composed in 1909. It is in four movements. The music of the opening Allegro moderato is in very late Romantic style and quite passionate. The second movement, Commodo, is kind of heavily accented descendant of the waltz, characterized by pounding ostinati. Next comes a slow movement, Sostenato. It begins with an introduction in the lower registers of the cello and piano and is dark and funereal but eventually builds to several dramatic climaxes. The finale is marked Risoluto irato e con impeto is subtitled Also sprach SimplizissimusIts (Thus spoke Simplicity). Its moods alternate between quiet charm and emotionally charged episodes filled with unisono playing the strings and extensive fugue.
Paul Juon (1872-1940) was the son of Swiss parents who emigrated to Moscow where he was born. Educated at the Moscow German High School, he entered the Moscow Conservatory where he studied violin with Jan Hrimaly and composition with Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev. After graduating, he went to Berlin for further composition instruction from Woldemar Bargiel . In 1906, after holding various posts in Russia, Juon was invited by Joseph Joachim, head of the prestigious Berlin Hochschule für Musik, to be a Professor of Composition. It was a post he held until 1934 at which time he moved to Switzerland, where lived for the rest of his life. He is often called the link between Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. In his early music, one can hear the influence of his Russian homeland and schooling. His second period is more cosmopolitan and is in tune with the contemporary Central European trends of the early 20th century. Ultimately, it is hard to characterize his music as Russian or German, Romantic, Modern or Folkloric, because one can find all of these elements in his music. Juon was widely regarded as an important composer and his works were given frequent performance throughout Europe during his lifetime. Chamber music plays a large part of his total output which numbers more than 100 works.
A powerful and complex work which deserves concert performance. Unavailable for many years now, we are pleased to present it once again.