Swiss Romantics: Paul Juon Orchestral Works Volume 2`

Like many a composer of the generation born between 1870 and 1880, Paul Juon was situated in the transitional period between late-Romanticism and the Modern. The radicalism of an Arnold Schoenberg was foreign to him, however. Like Schreker and Zemlinsky he held fast to tonality, choosing to expand it rather than give it up completely. Right to the end, Juon remained rooted in the expressive world of the late 19th century, and yet in two very different fields he succeded in making a brave foray into the direction of the Modern.
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Although Paul Juon’s compositional oeuvre focussed to a large extent on piano and chamber music, here we have two volumes devoted to his orchestral music. He was born in Moscow in 1872 of Swiss parentagei n 1889, aged seventeen, he was admitted to the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied violin with Jan Hřímalý and composition with Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev. His musical studies were completed in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik with Woldemar Bargiel. Working in Berlin, he translated Anton Arensky’s ‘Practical Studies in Harmony’ into German as well as Modest Tschaikovsky’s biography of his brother. Despite being a contemporary of Scriabin and Schoenberg, Juon eschewed modern trends such as serialism and atonality. His music is markedly tonal and straddles the period of late Romanticism and Modernism. Throw into the melting pot Brahms, Russian Romanticism and Tchaikovsky, and there you have it.

Christof Escher directs compelling performances, and all the music is warmly recorded. For those wishing to explore this remarkable music, I would suggest Vol. 1 for starters. Stephen Greenbank, Musicweb-international

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