Trio Caprice (Piano Trio No.2), Op.39
The Trio Caprice, composed in 1908, is a tone poem for piano trio. It is the second of two chamber works (the first being his Rhapsody for Piano Quartet which we also publish) which Juon loosely based on the then popular novel, Gosta Berling's Saga by the Swedish Nobel Literature Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf. Although Juon was inspired by the novel, he categorically stated that the trio was not programmatic music and was not intended to portray any of the specific events which took place in the book. Nonetheless, it still worth knowing the source of the romantic outpouring which has made the Trio Caprice one of Juon's most personal and emotional works. Gosta Berling's Saga is about a fallen pastor who is forced out of his ministry and must make a new life for himself. It is set in the Sweden of the 1830's and is at one and the same time highly romantic and also mystical. The atmosphere is a cross between Henrik Ibsen and Jack London, combining the eccentric upper-class nobility of Sweden with magical snow scenes involving wolves.
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 several of Bargiel's works). In 1906, after holding various posts in Russia, Juon was invited by Joseph Joachim, head of the prestigious Berlin Hochschule für Musik, to become a of Professor of Composition, a post which he held until 1934 when he emmigrated to Switzerland, where lived for the rest of his life. Juon was widely regarded as a first rate composer and his works were given frequent performance throughout Europe during his lifetime. Chamber music plays a large part of his output which numbers more than 100 works.
The opening movement of the trio, Allegro moderato non troppo, is a rhapsody in one movement. The following Andante is based on a broad theme which vacillates between major and minor, while the third movement, Scherzo, is clearly connected to the preceding Andante, it presents an oriental folk melody as a saltarello with a march like trio section, both of which have that special tension of the Jugendstil period just before the First World War. In the finale, Risoluto, Juon stitches many of the themes from the earlier movements into a modernistic Russian-sounding tonal quilt.
Long unavailable, we are pleased to reintroduce this very original work of great worth.