PAUL JUON: Piano Quartets Op. 50 and 37, “Rhapsodie” – Oliver Triendl, piano/ Daniel Gaede, violin/ Hariolf Schlichtig, viola/ Peter Burns, cello – CPO

by | Jul 16, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

PAUL JUON: Piano Quartets Op. 50 and 37, “Rhapsodie” – Oliver Triendl, piano/ Daniel Gaede, violin/ Hariolf Schlichtig, viola/ Peter Burns, cello – CPO 777 278-2, 62:09 ***** [Distr. by Naxos]:

Last November I reviewed a Shostakovich disc (piano trios) that also had a piece by a composer names Paul Juon, Russian born and stylistically very had to peg. This was a multichannel SACD of the month, and I said that he was a great discovery. Well, the Swiss Muscovite returns in this stunning release, and everything I said then is only confirmed here.

These two Piano Quartets (he actually calls the Op. 37 a “rhapsody”) are stunning examples of his craft, and indeed it has been suggested that the Op. 50 work is the greatest of any genre he ever penned. One listen and you’ll know why—gorgeous melodies, a stylistic blend of Ravel, Debussy, Faure, Brahms—do I hear Dukas and Strauss in there? And this from a Russian writing pseudo-impressionistic music in Berlin! There is nothing in this music that even hints of a man who does not have absolute mastery over his music, and this enchanting piece captures your heart from the very first bars.

Though I will admit to hearing the “Rhapsodie” Quartet second came as a bit of a letdown—after all, when you have just heard the very greatest, anything would be a letdown—the Lisztian sweep and flow of the work still proved quite captivating. Juon is particularly adept at drawing you into his music, even when you may first resist, as I did, feeling that the piece was warmed over Chausson. But it proved more than that, much more, and I never should have doubted him. There is much more to hear, string quartets, piano quintets, operas, four symphonies, and I am getting thrilled to the bone just contemplating what his orchestral music must sound like. Bring it on, CPO!

Part of the excellence of this recording is the all-star performers. Oliver Triendl was for seven years the concertmaster of the Vienna Phil, and Peter Bruns is the author of one of my favorite recordings of the Bach Cello Suites. Masters all, they play like they are revealing a secret to us that they have long held and kept quiet—stunning sound too. Don’t miss this for a moment!

— Steven Ritter 
 

Related Reviews