Paul JUON (1872-1940)
Maria Riccarda Wesseling (mezzo)
Clau Scherrer (piano)
rec. Radiostudio SRF, Zurich, June 2015. DDD

Labels such as the Swedish Sterling, Musiques Suisses and CPO have begun levering open the repertoire of Paul Juon. Coviello now follow suit with this collection of his art-songs.

He was born in Moscow and died in Switzerland. His teachers included Taneyev and Arensky but he also studied in Berlin with Woldemar Bargiel. His own teaching duties in that city brought students to his classes and they included Skalkottas, Vladigerov, Trapp, Kilpinen, Jarnach and Wolpe.

Juon does not wear his Russian heritage lightly in these songs. They are eloquent and to the point. The style is open and with folk aspects mixed with a late-romantic ambience. I thought of Rachmaninov at times and even Medtner but always with the composer resisting contrivance or laboured subtlety. There is a Schubertian ethos at work as well. You can hear it in Märchen for example. The setting of Dehmel's Lullaby glitters as if with starlight. There is a beguiling originality to be heard in Jugend (tr 3) and Die drei Schwestern. Klage der Gattin and Paradies - the latter setting words by Stella Juon - have a more expressionistic Klimtian style. A light-footed kittenish dancing air is adopted in Der einsame Pfeifer.

The concluding thirteen folksongs are taken from the Ukraine, Russia and from Jewish sources. Even with the by no means self-denying support of pianist Clau Scherrer, Wesseling faces a challenge in presenting these 24 songs. She does in fact find variety of projection and manner, including some testosterone in Cossack Love - clearly a man's song - and in Dnieper Song which is sturdily delivered. These songs include the feelingly done Rekrutenlied, the brook-babbling Wo hat sich, the caution about mortality in Hab' acht, the playful Hör nur and the tenderly admonitory Auf dem kleinen herd.

Everything is sung in German. Juon sets the greats including Rilke, Eichendorff, Dehmel and Mörike. The sung texts are given in the booklet with English translation by the royalty of lyric translators, Janet and Michael Berridge. The liner-notes are by Thomas Jakobi and are in German and English. One typo - in the heading for the words for Wiegenlied the title is a repeat of the title for the song at track 19. It should be Lullaby not a repeat of Babble, little brook.

A CPO disc (777 908-2) of Juon's orchestral works is teetering on the edge of being released. It will include his Rhapsodische Symphonie of 1938 and Sinfonietta Capricciosa performed by the Bamberger Symphoniker conducted by Graeme Jenkins. You can also listen out for the Rhapsodische Symphonie on BBC Radio 3 early in 2017. Crying out for first recordings are Jotunheimen (1924), a tone poem for two pianos and orchestra and Mysterien (1928 or 1914) - a symphonic poem for cello and orchestra after Knut Hamsun.

A strong selection of varied songs most artistically presented.

Rob Barnett

Erinnerung op. 13 Nr. 2
Regen op. 21 Nr. 1
Jugend op. 13 Nr. 3
Die drei Schwestern op. 99 Nr. 2
Das Mädchen op. 2 Nr. 2
Das verlassene Mägdelein op. 2 Nr. 1
Klage der Gattin op. 13 Nr. 1
Der einsame Pfeifer op. 21 Nr. 3
Paradies op. 99 Nr. 1
Märchen op. 21 Nr. 2
Wiegenlied op. 13 Nr. 4
4 Ukrainische Volkslieder
5 Russische Volkslieder
4 Jüdische Volkslieder

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