Historic musicians in less-than-familiar Baroque music this weekend. Taking the occasional break from 20th Century composers, or the neglected ones of the 19th century, diving back into the 18th and early 19th century for music of Jean-Baptiste Bréval in this radio studio recording featuring the legendary duo of André Navarra and Henriette Roget in a session dating from around 1953.
They play Bréval’s Sonata in G Major for Cello and Harpsichord (transcribed for piano for this broadcast).
Jean-Baptiste Sebastien Bréval (6 November 1753 – 18 March 1823) was a French cellist and composer. He wrote mostly pieces for his own instrument, and performed many world premières of his own pieces.
He was born in Paris, and went on to study with François Cupis (1735-1810) and Martin Berteau. By 1774, he was an active cello teacher. In 1775, he published his opus 1, six concertante quartets. In 1776, he became a member of the «Société Académique des Enfants d’Apollon». Kicking off his career by performing one of his sonatas at a Concert Spirituel in 1778, he became a member of their orchestra from 1781 to 1791, and from 1791 to 1800 he played in the orchestra of the Théâtre Feydeau.
Later he became involved in the administration of the «Concerts de la rue de Cléry» and a member of the Paris Opera orchestra. He retired from the orchestra in 1816. The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung states that Bréval taught at the Conservatoire although this can not be verified by Conservatoire documents. However, Bréval’s compositions were definitely used for instruction at the Conservatoire. Bréval died in Colligis, Aisne.
Bréval compositions written between 1775 and 1805 consisted mostly of instrumental pieces. His music reflected the Parisian love for graceful melodies and energetic rhythms. Before 1784 his works were usually two or three movement compositions employing sonata and rondo form, or a one movement work using variations. His later works, such as Symphonie concertante for clarinet, horn and bassoon, Op. 38 (c1795), show diversity and experimentation. His concertos, written for his own performance, were influenced by Giovanni Battista Viotti who utilized a precise thematic organization interjected with virtuosic passages.
Bréval is most well known for his Sonata in C major Op. 40, No. 1, which is one of the classics of student cello literature, and often one of the first full sonatas a cello student will learn. The original version is available from several different publishers. Versions have also been published transcribed for other string instruments, including the viola, and for bass clarinet.
Bréval wrote symphonies, seven cello concerti, 4 cello sonatas, various chamber music including five sets of cello duets, as well as a comic opera. Perhaps his most important and influential work was Traité du Violoncelle (1804), a cello method. It was probably the first systematic treatise on the cello. However, it was not well-received as it overlooked the increasing technical advances in the design of the cello that allowed for greater virtuosity on the instrument.
The noted French cellist and music pedagogue, André (-Nicolas) Navvara, was born into a musical family. At the age of seven he began studying singing as well as cello. When he was only nine years old, he was accepted as a student at the Toulouse Conservatory, from where he graduated with first prize in 1924. He then studied for two more years with Jules Leopold-Loeb (cello) and Toumemire (chamber music) at the Paris Conservatory, where at the age of fifteen he took first prize. In his youth, Navarra was an athlete as well as a cellist, being an expert middle-weight boxer and swimmer.
In 1929, at the age of eighteen, André Navarra joined the Kretly String Quartet, and performed with them for the next seven years. His solo debut was with the Colonne Orchestra in Paris in 1931, when he performed the Lalo Concerto. In 1933 he became principal cellist of the Grand Opera Orchestra. He appeared as a soloist with various European orchsestras.
World War II halted his career from 1939 to 1945, when André Navarra left his cello in its case, and served in the French infantry. After the war he continued concertizing, and toured the world, playing with the great conductors of the era. His recording of the Edward Elgar Concerto with John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra is considered a classic. He gave premiere performances of cello concertos by Jolivet (1962) and Tomasi. (1970).
Henriette Puig-Roget (9 January 1910 – 24 November 1992) was a French pianist, organist and music educator.
Born in Bastia, she began her musical studies at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1919. She won 6 first prizes between 1926 and 1930 in the classes of Isidore Philipp, Jean Gallon and Noël Gallon, Maurice Emmanuel and Marcel Dupré: piano, harmony, music history, piano accompaniment, counterpoint, fugue, organ. She was also a student of Charles Tournemire in chamber music.
First Second Grand Prix de Rome in 1933, she was appointed the following year organist of the Oratoire du Louvre and the Grand Synagogue of Paris. She remained there until 1979 and 1952 respectively. As conductor of singing at the Opéra de Paris, she pursued a parallel career as a pianist on the radio from 1935, where she remained until 1975.
So Now you know.
Hit the play button and enjoy.