Saturday, February 19, 2011

Roessel-Majdan, Hugues Cuenod, Bach Geistliche Leider Volume 1

When Hugues Cuenod died a few months ago at the age of 108, I was unable to get a post up to recognize his long and productive career. The current offering is a good example of his art; he sings these sacred songs with honest simplicity and the beautifully straightforward vocalism for which he was known. The wonderful Hilde Roessel-Majdan we have come across before on this blog, in Bach cantata recordings conducted by Hermann Scherchen. A fine singer in many genres, it is hard to best her in Bach.

Cuenod's contribution to the current project was issued previously on 2 CDs, but they are no longer available. In any case, I find the alternation of the tenor and alto in the present recording --the first of the four LP set -- affecting and effective. The two voices compliment each other beautifully and provide, I believe, needed variety to songs very similar in style and intent.

I will be adding the other three volumes over the next days. They are all from the same later pressings in Westminster's "Collectors Series" -- the ones so many of us treasure, with those eye-assaulting orange covers. The music and text, kindly provided by Neal at Neal's Historical Recordings, is available from the link below.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nancarrow: Studies For Player Piano

The present studies, by Conlon Nancarrow, were composed for specially altered player-pianos in the composer's possession, and the present recording was supervised by him at his studio in Mexico City. The contents of the studio are now in Basle, Switzerland at the Paul Sacher Foundation.

Largely unknown until late in his life, Nancarrow wrote wonderfully appealing music, written for mechanical instruments able to realize his fiendishly difficult rhythmic experiments. The Wikipedia article ( provides some valuable information.

The complete Studies for Player Piano were released on Wergo, though I do not know the circumstances of the recording. In any event, recordings of this music are not commonplace, to say the least, so the present post is more than justified. Ligeti thought Nancarrow was the most important musical discovery since Webern and Ives, and if you listen carefully, I think you will appreciate that enthusiastic recommendation.

Link to all files