Hugues Cuenod was born in Vevey, Switzerland in 1902. His initial musical studies were made in Lausanne, and at the Conservatoires of Geneva and Bale but it was only later in Vienna that studies with Mme Singer-Burian turned his bass baritone voice into a lighter tenor. He gave his debut recital in Paris in 1928: it was the start of an international recital and operatic career which has made Cuenod a legend in his own lifetime.
This selection covers examples of Debussy's song writing from Nuit d'étoiles (1876) to the Trois poèmes de Mallarmé (1913) so the pieces broadly cover the three creative periods, immaturity, maturity and the onset of the decline of the last few years of his life. By means of his uncanny power of evocation, romance, eroticism, sentiment, natural beauty and above all human reaction to them all, are exposed and transformed with enchanting clarity.
Cuenod, already 70 when he made these recordings shows only few signs of his age: his voice is light (as always) but steady, his control of long phrases unimpaired, and his use of words imaginative as well as crystal clear. His sense of style in this varied collection, ranging from the romantic Nuit d'etoiles (composed at the age of 14) to the extremely elusive Mallarme songs of 37 years later, reveals true musicianly insight; and his artistry is matched by Martin Isepp's sympathetic and sensitive partnership. Excellent recording quality adds to the attraction of this disc.