Navarra (1911-1988) made few recordings but is held in high
esteem as a cellist. He made a famous record with Barbirolli
of the Elgar cello concerto, eight years before “you know who”
and many regard this as a classic (Testament SBT 1204).
Here are recordings recorded a few years before his death when
he would be nearly seventy. At its modest price and with an
attractive selection I would suggest anyone vaguely interested
in fine playing of yesteryear shouldn’t hesitate.
Sonata was written for an instrument which has gone the way
of the Dodo. The piece is usually played by a cello and works
well. There is lovely playing here and fine interplay with pianist
Annie d’Arco. Navarra was a very expressive cellist and the
sonata certainly gets a fine performance.
In the Schumann
pieces I have to express some minor concerns. The playing is
splendid in its own terms but I miss a feeling of fun. One of
the Five “Folk pieces” is called “with humour”, well not here.
This is also affects the third piece that always reminds me
of a hornpipe. This means that the contrast with the sublime
second piece is lost. I turned to Rostropovich and felt it more in keeping with what I like in these
works; it’s a matter of taste, of course. The playing is first
class, it’s just that he obviously was a less emotional artist
as also evident from his Elgar. In the “Langsam” he gives a
particularly strong display with the full-bodied tone that was
The three Dvořák
pieces have a different accompanist but are executed with aplomb.
The Humoresque will bring a gasp of recognition; I knew
it well but not its title. “Silent Woods” is often with an orchestra
but here the piano works well.
The sound is a little
dated at times but it matches an “old fashioned” style. Despite
certain reservations this is a good selection of cello pieces
and a deserved tribute to an underrated cellist. I see from
the brief and inadequate notes - I can’t find recording location
- that more of his recordings have been released; I will be
quite interested to hear them.
David R Dunsmore