Sextet in f minor, Op.22
For Piano, 2 Violins, Viola, Cello & Bass or 2 Cellos
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 (we have published Bargiel's Piano Trio No.1). 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 widely regarded as the link between Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. In his early music, one can hear the influence of his Russian homeland and schooling. Of course, Juon recognized that though he had been born in Russia and schooled there, he was a still foreigner living among Russians. 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. During his lifetime, Juon was widely regarded as an important composer and his works were given frequent performance throughout Europe. Chamber music plays a large part of his total output which numbers more than 100 works.
The Op.22 Sextet in c minor for piano, two violins, viola and 2 cellos dates from 1902 and is in five movements. The huge first movement, Moderato, begins with a short piano introduction before the strings join and present the main theme, a lush, lovely melody. The lyrical second theme shows the influence of Brahms. In the next three movements—Andante quasi allegretto, Menuetto and Intermezzo—Juon sets a theme and a set of eight variations. In the Andante, the theme, perhaps of Russian origin, is presented and is followed by five variations. The sixth and seventh variation appear in the Menuetto and the last variation is heard in the Intermezzo. The titles of the movements are rather surprising as the Menuetto clearly is a scherzo and not a minuet while the variation of the Intermezzo is quite robust, and almost sounds like a military march. The finale, Allegro non troppo, once again begins in Brahmsian vein with the strings introducing a triumphant and energetic main subject which carries all before it. We believe this is a work of the first order, a masterpiece and strongly feel it should be brought to the concert hall, but amateurs should not miss the opportunity to play it as well.
In addition, we are pleased to offer this Sextet in a version for Piano 2 Violins, Viola, Cello and Bass. Our bass part was made by Anthony Scelba, noted bass soloist, Professor of Music and Director of the Concert Artists Program of Kean University. In an effort to give bass players a chance to play many of the great works of the chamber music repertoire. In this version, there are several other works which we offer for the same instrumentation which you may wish to obtain (click on links) so you can make a night of it. These include Mikhail Glinka's Grand Sextet, William Sterndale Bennett's Piano Sextet, Sergei Lyapunov's Piano Sextet, Glinka's Divertimento Brillante, George Onslow's Piano Sextet, Felix Weingartner's Piano Sextet and Henri Bertini's Piano Sextet No.3.