Piano Trio No.1 in a minor, Op.17
Paul Juon (1872-1940) 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.
Paul Juon 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.
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 Piano Trio No.1 is the first of six and dates from 1901, when he was already living in Berlin. It represents the high-watermark of his so-called Russian period in which his music is heavily infused with Russian folk material and Slavic tonalities that use fourths and fifths. The opening Allegro begins with a somewhat sad, Russian folk theme given out by the strings. When the piano joins in, it becomes triumphant. The second movement, Adagio non troppo, also begins with a Russian theme but in a highly romanticized style that makes it barely recognizable. The strings open with a lovely duet before the piano joins in. In the finale, the piano alone introduces the main theme, which once again has a Russian folkloric quality. The music alternates between moments of dramatic power and intimate tenderness.
We are pleased to reintroduce this long unavailable but very fine trio which deserves to be heard in concert.