Thursday, September 22, 2011

El Embrujo del Cigarro

I just ordered a new CD release by the Huelgas Ensemble entitled "The Art of the Cigar" or "El Embrujo del Cigarro." Its subtitle is "Songs, ballads, and hymns in honour of the cigar from the fiteenth to the twentieth century." It is on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label, and the conductor is Paul Van Nevel. It is available at Amazon among other places.

Here's what is published about the contents:
This new programme unveils the dreamy melancholy, subtle irony, and often humorous nature of the true cigar smoker.

This is a programme which leaves the confines of rigid concert repertoire, and focuses firmly on music and poetry. It is a journey that takes the listener from the exotic cigar district of Cuba to the English Victorian cigar salons, from the artistic cafes of Berlin and Seville to the nineteenth century "fumoirs" of Paris.

Both literature and music have often used the vibrant character of a salon as the inspiration for (and creation of) works.

Here one is seduced by the intoxicating aroma of the "Joie de vivre," contemplative calm and melancholic wisdom so often associated with the ever dreamy, oft-quixotic purveyor of the cigar.

The texts on offer here come from the pens of both well-known writers (Kipling, Byron, Lope de Vega, Perrault) and lesser-known poets, with the music supplied in the most part by "unknown masters." They do have one thing in common, however: they were all great enthusiasts of the cigars and smoking of them - exactly like Hemingway, Churchill, Brahms, Liszt, Verne, Tolstoi and so many other composers, poets, painters, philosophers and politicians.

One particular element of the evening will be the employment of the so-called "contrafact method", whereby familiar musical sequences shall be used to bring some of the poetry to melodic life.

The melange of the music and the exotic imagery of the cigar smoke will be sure to carry the listener off to a new plateau! It was indeed Liszt who once said: "A good Cuban cigar closes the door to the vulgarities of the world."

The texts and music of the programme all come from Paul Van Nevels's private cigar library.
The contents show a tremendous diversity:

Tobacco is a dirty weedThe Bristol tune book (1876)02'22
Como el humo del cigarroJuan Blas de Castri (ca.1561-1631)03'06
O Metaphysicla tobaccoMichael East (ca.1580-1648)02'51
Louange de la HavaneCarl Ludwig Friedrich Hetsch (1808-1872)02'20
De Vuelta Abajo o de OrienteJosé Peyro (1702-1768)03'26
My last cigarCharles Wesley (1793-1859)03'36
La guajirita de Vuelta AbajoPedro Riquet (17th century)03'38
Das ZigarrenliedAugustus Edmonds Tozer (1857-1910)03'22
So I have my cigar!W. Augustus Barrat (1864-1928)04'44
Eloge du tabacH. Lazerges (1817-1887)04'16
To a segarPaul Lebrun (1863-1920)03'08
Fumeux fume par fuméeSolage (floruit ca.1400) from codex Chantilly05'01
Open the old cigar-boxDaniel Towner (1850-1919)05'38
Tobacco, tobacco, sing sweetly for tobaccoTobias hume (ca.1569-1645)03'17
I like cigars beneath the starsE.C. Walker (1820-1894)02'47
ElogioAnonymous (Spain ca.1520)02'33



  1. How did this ever navigate under my radar? It looks like a must-have to me. Please bring the CD to one of the meetings.

  2. "...the dreamy melancholy, subtle irony, and often humorous nature of the true cigar smoker..."

    Isn't that our description?