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A Tribute To Hughes Cuenod


Release Date: 03/28/2006 
Label:  Cascavelle   Catalog #: 3080   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  François CouperinIgor StravinskyWolfgang Amadeus MozartMarcel Delannoy
Performer:  Hugues CuénodRobert BrinkWilliam WaterhouseAlfred Zighera,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniel PinkhamIgor StravinskyJoseph-Victor MeyerJane Evrard,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Instrumental EnsembleConcert Chorale of New YorkProMusica Chamber Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



A TRIBUTE TO HUGUES CUENOD Hugues Cuenod (ten); Various supporting artists CASCAVELLE 3080, mono (2 CDs:135:24)


COUPERIN Leçons de ténèbres pour le Mercredy Saint: Premère leçon; Troisième leçon. Trois chansons. Audite omnes et expanescite. STRAVINSKY Cantata. MOZART Read more class="ARIAL12b">Complete Masonic vocal music. DELANNOY Philippine: Complainte de l’homme-serpent


Hugues Cuenod turned 102, this year. So have a number of other people, more than at any other time in the past, thanks in part to medical advances, and to the dangerous avalanche of a birth rate we’re experiencing on this creaky old planet. What sets Cuenod apart from the rest is his distinctive voice and artistry through a lengthy career in opera and song. Swiss-born-and-trained, he graduated as a bass-baritone, of all things; he then studied privately in Vienna, emerging with the light, high tenor (almost a countertenor in sound at the top of his range) that was his distinctive calling card throughout a lengthy singing career.


It was a distinguished career, but hardly conventional. He was most active in both ends of the classical vocalist’s musical timeline, at least as it existed in the first half of the 20th century: Machaut, Renaissance songs, the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion , but also Stravinsky, Milhaud, Sauguet, and Britten. In more conventional fare, he very occasionally took character parts: Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro , the Astrologer in The Golden Cockerel , and a wonderfully fluent Lucano in L’incoronazione di Poppea (though Monteverdi was hardly conventional fare when Cuenod began performing his music). In his seventies, Cuenod accepted the small part of the Innkeeper in Colin Davis’s recording of Benvenuto Cellini ; at the age of 85, he performed Altoum in Turandot at the Met. An acquaintance of mine speaks to him occasionally by phone at his Swiss residence, where unfortunately his doctors refuse to allow any visitors. According to her, Cuenod is frail but mentally alert, possesses an excellent memory, and delights in discussing both the past and hearing about current musical events. One hopes this two-CD release will figure into one of those discussions. While I’m sure it’s touching to realize your art hasn’t been forgotten by admirers over the years, it must surely count for something to realize that you’ve attained the status of a classic in the vintage recording market.


This homage to Cuenod takes in items from the 1930s and 1950s. It’s a good sampling for the most part, well suited to display those qualities the tenor brought to whatever he touched. In three chansons by Couperin, we hear typical French singing virtues: clarity, delicacy of treatment, forward enunciation of the text, and an impression of further untapped resources. Jennie Tourel, for her considerable interpretative insight, is moderately difficult to understand in Stravinsky’s Cantata , but Cuenod’s English is both perfectly pronounced and very easy to follow. In the Mozart Masonic music, the tenor is notable for the directness of his attack, his projection of spiritual strength, and where occasionally required, the excellence of his runs. In Couperin’s Première leçon de ténèbres pour le Mercredy Saint (1950), the passages of seemingly endless vocalization are not remarkable for breath support—which, after all, is less difficult to achieve in front of a microphone than in a hall—but for their evenness of emission, and the seeming ease with which this is achieved. As for the Delannoy, this excerpt from his musical comedy Philippine , in which Cuenod played a pathetic acrobat, is a great way to end a fairly solemn album. It’s nose-thumbing in the delightfully broad style of Jacques Ibert, with great character acting by the tenor.


If I don’t mention Couperin’s Troisème leçon de ténebres pour le Mercredy Saint , it’s only because it reveals nothing to us about Cuenod that can’t be heard elsewhere on this album, and provides a great deal from an indifferent female choir. I could have wished for a judicious selection of those Italian, Spanish, German, and French Renaissance songs the tenor recorded with lutenist Hermann Leeb to provide more evidence of what he could achieve in different languages, and his skill at assuming a more intimate manner. But this certainly doesn’t detract from the variety of material Cascavelle has provided.


The sound quality is variable, as one might expect from drawing upon so many differently composed sources across more than 15 years. The Stravinsky from 1952 is slightly muddy, while Couperin’s Première leçon de ténèbres is very close to the mike and offers little hall resonance. The Mozart is dryer still, at least in the orchestral material, but those items recorded with piano are better. Cuenod is only negatively affected by engineering problems in the Troisème leçon de ténebres from 1936, where his placement at a distance from the mike robs the voice of some of its character, and makes it sound undernourished. Cascavelle’s re-mastering relies on good originals with very little touchup. Short notes are provided, with no texts or translations.


But don’t let the lack of texts or the indifferent sound throw you off this one. Cuenod was a classic. It’s about time someone gathered together sufficient vocal evidence to prove this to generations of listeners who are almost certainly unfamiliar with his inimitable art.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Leçons de tenébres: Premier leçon by François Couperin
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Pinkham
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713-1717; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 12/1950 
2. Qu'on ne me dise plus by François Couperin
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Pinkham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1697; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1950 
3. Il faut aimer des qu'on scait plaire "La pastorelle" by François Couperin
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Pinkham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1950 
4. Dans l'isle de Cythère "Les solitaires" by François Couperin
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Daniel Pinkham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1950 
5. Audite omnes et expanescite by François Couperin
Performer:  Robert Brink (Violin), William Waterhouse (Violin), Alfred Zighera (Viola da gamba),
Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Daniel Pinkham (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Daniel Pinkham
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 12/1950 
6. Cantata by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  John Wummer (Flute), Paige Brooks (Flute), Ferdinand Prior (English Horn),
Engelbert Brenner (Oboe), H. Joachim (Cello), Hugues Cuénod (Tenor),
Jennie Tourel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Chorale of New York
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951-1952; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/22/1952 
7. Laut verkünde unsre Freude, K 623 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Jean Giraudeau (Tenor), Gérard Souzay (Baritone), Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Joseph-Victor Meyer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ProMusica Chamber Orchestra,  Mullhouse Oratorio Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
8. Lobegesang auf die feierliche Johannisloge, K 148 (125h) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1775-76; Salzburg, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
9. Lied zur Gesellenreise, K 468 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
10. Die Mauererfreude, K 471 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Joseph-Victor Meyer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ProMusica Chamber Orchestra,  Mullhouse Oratorio Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
11. Zerfliesset heut', geliebte Brüder, K 483 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Conductor:  Joseph-Victor Meyer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ProMusica Chamber Orchestra,  Mullhouse Oratorio Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
12. Ihr unsre neuen Leiter, K 484 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Conductor:  Joseph-Victor Meyer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ProMusica Chamber Orchestra,  Mullhouse Oratorio Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
13. Lasst uns mit geschlungenen Händen, K 623 (623a) [Fragment] by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Gérard Souzay (Baritone), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
14. Die ihr des unermesslichen Weltalls Schöpfer ehrt, K 619 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
15. Dir Seele des Weltalls, K 429 (468a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor), Hèléne Salomé (Piano)
Conductor:  Joseph-Victor Meyer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ProMusica Chamber Orchestra,  Mullhouse Oratorio Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: 09/21/1950 - 09/22/1950 
16. Leçons de tenébres: Troisième leçon by François Couperin
Performer:  Marthe Braquemond (Organ), Marcelle de Lacour (Harpsichord), Paul Derenne (Tenor),
Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Jane Evrard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vocal Ensemble,  Paris Women's Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1713; France 
Date of Recording: 12/11/1936 
17. Philippine: Complainte de l'homme-serpent by Marcel Delannoy
Performer:  Hugues Cuénod (Tenor)
Conductor:  Maurice Jaubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
Date of Recording: 11/19/1937 

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