This CD offers you three of Robert Schumanns brilliants, newly edged by Theodor Kirchner and flanked by two newly delved diamonds of the (Post-) Brahmsian Era. I still cannot believe that these masterpieces have been neglected for such a long time: rarely if at all heard in concert, the music of Paul Juon and Friedrich Gernsheim proves to be very exciting and emotionally charged. We should hear it much more often!
Paul Juon (1872-1940) was born in Moscow from a Swiss family. When he left Russia in 1901, he composed his first Piano Trio in Berlin. We hear a composer that bids farewell to his beloved Russia. The melodic lines of the Trio are clearly of a Slavic nature. The first movement starts with a beautiful cello melody, taken over by the violin. Russian dances enter and when the cello theme returns, we discover that this melody was conceived as a canon. In fact all of Juons Piano Trio's (six in total) have inbuilt canonic melodies. The second movement is beautifully melancholic whereas the positive third movement is paused halfway, giving way to an obviously Brahmsian waltz. It is almost as if Juon is literally entering the German Capital right there. Critics at the time have called Juon "the Russian Brahms". Given his huge repertoire of very high quality and variety, such a title clearly does not cover the composers capacities.
Friedrich Gernsheim (1839-1916) was a friend of Brahms' He moved from Germany to the Netherlands (Rotterdam) in 1874, where he became conductor of the "Maatschappij ter bevordering van de Toonkunst". Here he also composed his Second Piano Trio. Dedicated to his wife, it starts with a beautiful romantic duet between violin and cello. A fingerbreaking second movement (Scherzo) proves Gernsheim was a very gifted musician himself. The heart of the piece is formed by the Lento e mesto: emotionally very involving music that shows us Gernsheim was a very worthy companion of Brahms! The fourth movement offers a very optimistic ending to this masterpiece. At the time, Gernsheim was also called "the Dutch Brahms".
The three Schumann pieces were originally three rather unknown piano pieces (Romanze is from Drei Romanzen Opus 28, Abschied is from Waldeszenen and Novelette comes from the Bünte Blätter). Another part from the Bünte Blätter was used by Brahms to write his Schumann Variations. It is clear that these two composers had a big impact on eachother.
Theodor Kirchner was also a friend of Brahms'. For example he made a choral version of the Deutsches Requiem. Many of his piano music was dedicated to Brahms. In 1884 Brahms raised a great deal of money to help Kirchner clear his huge debts. In a way, this enabled Kirchner to write his piano trio version of these Schumann pieces in 1888. We hear a genuine Schumann sound in these glittering gems.