Le Maître de la Mélodie – Hugues Cuénod
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937)
Le Bachelier de Salamanque [1:41]
Jazz dans la Nuit [4:24]
Coeur en Péril [2:08]
Marcelle de MANZIARLY (1899-1989)
Trois Fables de la Fontaine (1. Le Cigale et la Fourmi; 2. L'Oiseau blesse d'une fleche;3. La Grenouille qui veut se faire aussi grosse que le Boeuf) [5:15]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Bleuet (1940) [2:51]
C (1940) [2:42]
A sa guitare (1935) [2:48]
Priez pour Paix (1938) [2:45]
La Grenouillère (1938) [1:56]
André CAPLET (1878-1925)
Cinq Ballades Françaises (P. Fort) (1. Cloche d'aube; 2. La Ronde; 3. Notre chaumière en Yveline; 4. Songe d'une nuit d'été; 5. L'Adieu en barque) (1919-20) [14:31]
Georges AURIC (1899-1983)
Trois Interludes (1. Le pouf; 2. Le Gloxinia; 3. Le Tilbury) (1913) [6:27]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Catalogue des Fleurs op.560 (1. La Violette (The Violet); 2. Le Begonia (The Begonia); 3. Les Fritillaires (Fritillaires); 4. Les Jacinthes (Hyacinths); 5. Les Crocus (The Crocus); 6. Le Brachycome (The Brachycome);7. L'Eremurus (The Eremurus)) (1919) [6:10]
Quatre poèmes de Léo Latil op. 20 (1. L'Abandon (Abandonment); 2. Ma douleut et sa compagne (My Grief and its Companion); 3. Le Rossignol (The Nightingale); 4. La Tourterelle (The Turtledove)) (1914) [16:45]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
L’Île heureuse (1890) [4:05]
Hugues Cuénod (tenor)
Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
rec. 1978, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth
NIMBUS NI 5337 [74:28]
Hugues Cuénod’s recording swan-song was for Nimbus, with which company he had a productive series of sessions. Some of the earlier examples, such as his Fauré recordings, were taped in studios in Birmingham but the later ones, such as this, date from the days when he travelled to Nimbus’s HQ at Wyastone. He was a superb linguist, and had a wonderful ear for mélodies. What he no longer really had, and what indeed he had really not had for most of his singing life, was a voice capable of much obvious warmth. But what it lacked in burnish – the word ‘reedy’ has been applied to it more than once – it made up for in intelligent phrasing, excellent diction and a sure sense of style, or styles, as this particular disc shows time and again.
This is a mixed recital and explores some highways and byways of the French song tradition from the earliest born, Chabrier, to the youngest, the trio of Marcelle de Manziarly, Poulenc, and Auric, who were all born in 1899. Roussel’s rocking rhythm underpins Le Bachelier de Salamanque and is sung with a true sense of the music’s rise and fall. Marcelle de Manziarly is by some way the most obscure composer represented. She was Franco-Russian, a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, and a neo-classicist of repute, though as the notes say, she has been neglected. Her Fables are full of personality and wit. They are precise, taut and charmingly brief.
Poulenc’s mélodies are doubtless the best known in the programme and include such masterpieces as C and A sa guitare, which Cuénod invests with a telling sense of atmosphere. Caplet’s Ballades are ingenious and well worth a study. The piano’s darting Debussian escapades offer a curious independence from the vocal line. Cuénod is telling in the fourth of the set, Songe d’une nuit d’été where his confident brio is matched by Geoffrey Parsons’s playing of the wittily allusive piano writing. Georges Auric, one of my favourite film composers, was amazingly precocious when, in 1913, at the age of 13, he composed his Trois Interludes. They’re boldly etched indeed, and listen out for the martial rhythms of the middle setting.
Some composers are said to be able to set the phone book to music, but Darius Milhaud set a 1919 seed catalogue to music. Oh yes he did. Charming trifles – especially Les Crocus – and probably what was needed after years of war. His Quatre poèmes de Léo Latil are of more significance, and are powerfully expressive, not least the last, sung by Cuénod with such delicate, refined, half-voiced intensity. To close we have Chabrier’s salon ballad to send us on our way happily.
There are no texts.
A voice made up for what it lacked in burnish with intelligent phrasing, excellent diction and a sure sense of style.