is a disc in Warner’s budget range and
in spite of only playing for a measly
46 minutes it is well worth looking
out for and buying. Often one buys a
disc for the soloist or the conductor.
Here it is worth buying equally for
are fairly elderly performances, although
by the quality of the recording, it
is very difficult to tell. They were
originally from the Erato stable and
were issued on vinyl to general acclaim.
The venue which one would expect to
be unduly lively is not betrayed. It
seems likely that the sessions were
recorded with the microphones fairly
close. The sound is very immediate for
both soloist and orchestra, with the
balance between the two being managed
very well. The considerable Notre Dame
echo is suppressed quite effectively.
Navarra does not have an extensive discography,
but what he does have is superb. Apart
from a few discs of cello solos and
other chamber music, his concerto repertoire
is represented principally by an Elgar
with Barbirolli, a Brahms Double with
on Supraphon, and two very fine Dvořáks,
one live in Prague and the other with
Schwarz on Testament. Those who know
this artist’s legacy will no doubt remember
the intensity of his playing style and
the way he digs into the melodies to
impact. So it is on this CD, with the
soloist aided and abetted with similarly
passionate playing by the Lamoureux
Orchestra under Charles Munch.
disc opens with the Saint-Saëns
which positively leaps into the sound
arena. Navarra’s playing exhibits a
clarity of playing, with almost perfect
pitching and minimal vibrato except
where absolutely necessary. The first
movement fairly bubbles along, making
Saint-Saëns’ writing for cello
seem more substantial than usual. The
slow movement is not really a slow movement
but in fact an Allegretto con moto.
The lyricism is perfectly caught by
soloist and orchestra alike. The early
staccato playing of the orchestra has
just a hint of vibrato to conjure up
the right atmosphere to usher in Navarra’s
finale returns to the tempo of the first
movement and progresses with soloist
and orchestra weaving in and out of
the sound picture to perfection. The
themes in the finale are also reminiscent
of the themes in the first movement.
The finale ends with some staccato chords.
Here, the acoustic of the cathedral
is clearly evident in the slow dying
away of the sound. How impressive this
performance would have sounded to those
present on the day of the recording.
concerto by Lalo is less well known,
but none the worse for that. In a performance
like this, it may well become better
known than before. In the past, the
only recording of this concerto which
I actually liked was that of Pierre
Fournier on DG. It is no small praise
to say that this performance can run
it very close. Lalo’s command of melody
is less assured than that of Saint-Saëns,
but this is of little matter when the
commitment of the playing is so clearly
evident. The slow movement particularly
is beautiful and Navarra’s playing is
full of sensitivity and clarity.
classical repertoire of concerti for
cello is relatively small. These two
works played with this level of passion
and exuberance are extremely welcome.
Munch’s accompaniment is absolutely
first class, and he appears to be able
to galvanise the Lamoureux Orchestra
into playing which is both committed
and alive at all times.
Warner Apex but next time please add
some more music to fill the disc up