Friday, 25 June 2010

Aldeburgh and Hugues Cuénod

Aldeburgh and Hugues Cuénod -  much deeper connections than you'd think.  Hugues Cuénod, who turns 108 tomorrow (see main posts on him on this site) went to Aldeburgh nearly every year. Britten, of course, had a passion for Monteverdi, Bach, early polyphony, Elizabethan lute songs etc. so naturally they had a lot in common. (If you get to Red House, see Britten's collection of baroque and early music scores). Britten transcribed Bach, folk song and much else: eclectic mixes have been a feature of Aldeburgh since the start. The tradition goes on, with Birtwistle transcriptions of Bach, etc etc. "Montage Collage" is central to the whole idea of Aldeburgh.

Britten loved hosting artists from far away - he was instrumental in helping Shostakovich and getting him established in the West. Fruitful exchange of ideas and it spurred new work. So naturally he wanted to write music he, Pears and Cuénod could perform together. But the two tenors could not have been more different. "Like harnessing a horse and a steer" said Cuénod, diplomatically. This year is Peter Pears centenary, so Aldeburgh is full of him - film, exhibition, talks, walks. And as for me, I'll be celebrating the quirky mélange that has always been Aldeburgh. Right from the start, this frisson has inspired new work, new music, new artists.

Please explore this site, where there's lots on Aldeburgh, Britten, Cuénod, Carter, Messiaen, Aimard, Knussen, Benjamin and connected themes. Look at the photo at the top of this page - also "Aldeburgh" in the sense of eclectic mix. Orchestra of animals, procession to a Chinese Buddhist abbot.  One day I must write more about that place, where there are/were hundreds of things like that. Below a clip from Aldeburgh Music showing why Aldeburgh is such a great experience.

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