Paul JUON (1872-1940)
Dancing Rhythms
Pieces Op. 14 (1900): Alla Marcia, Allegretto, Tempo di Valse, Allegro, Allegro molto, Allegretto con moto, Moderato [21:28]
Pieces op. 24 (1904): Allegro, Quasi valse lente, Allegro non troppo, Allegretto, Moderato [22:43]
Pieces op. 41 (1908): Risoluto, Vivace molto, Allegretto grazioso, Tanzende Quinten - Tempo di Valse Lente, Tragischer Walzer, Appasionato [21:07]
Agnès Dubois-Chauvet and Igor Kraèvsky (piano)
rec. PNC Bank Recital Hall, Duquesne University, 24-27 November 2010. DDD
MINSTREL MLCD1001 [65:18]

Paul Juon attended the Imperial Moscow Conservatoire after which he extended his studies in Berlin before briefly teaching violin and theory at Baku University. He returned to Berlin and had much of his career there.

For this listener expectations of piano duets are of frivolous or companionable music. Juon's three sets were written between 1900 and 1908. They challenge preconceptions - at least mine. These pieces were recorded as part of the Juon Duet Project and are a much more impressive proposition than the medium usually portends. The development across the eight years is from a by and large Brahmsian accent to a style chiming with that of Rachmaninov. There's very little of the salon.

The op. 14 set moves from the grandeur of Brahms (in the first and last of the set) to sauntering Malacca-cane twirling charm to Chopin evocative ballade romance. The music is varied and tender with glinting notes striking through. It is rewarding to hear and surely to play. It must have its challenges too as the Godowskian spray of notes in No. 5 will attest. The Allegretto con moto is cheerily warming - a Russian dance that is a little in the manner of Tchaikovsky. It's a real little winner - a charmer.

The op. 24 pieces include a confidently Russian Allegro distinctive for its minutely staggered note-pecking - a delightful effect. Also to be relished is the mercurial yet ramrod dignity of the Allegro non troppo - an ingratiating, sharply turned and accented piece of work. We finish op. 24 with the sturdy, imperially tolled Moderato.

Op. 41 is yet more Russian. Time and again it is the influence of Rachmaninov that is felt. The Risoluto makes for an exultantly swashbuckling echo of an heroically energetic Etude-Tableau. Contrast this with the urbanely whirling Vivace molto. It sounds for all the world like a turbo-charged music box. Speaking of which the two players seem totally under the skin of these pieces. The technical challenges have been well and truly trounced both in obvious display and in tender nuance.

Juon's piano duets newly revived and in style. Will appeal to all who admire Rachmaninov.

For more information about Paul Juon go to

Rob Barnett

Juon's piano duets newly revived and in style. Will appeal to all who admire Rachmaninov.