The influence of André Navarra on (Belgian) cello playing

Table of Contents


André Navarra was one of the four great French cellists in the twentieth century, together with Pierre Fournier, Maurice Gendron and Paul Tortelier. I’ll start my lecture with a short biography about Navarra. Although Navarra also had a rich orchestral and solo career, teaching has always been very important for him. He developed a fabulous new bow technique which he adopted partly from the violinist Carl Flesch, where he used very flexible fingers. 

When we look at modern cellists now, we can see that the flexible right hand has become very common. Casals made us use the whole arm and the French cello school worked a lot on the refinement of the sound with the flexible fingers of the right hand. 

Nevertheless Navarra also said interesting things about the left hand and the posture. We are very happy to have excellent old videos on his technique and I’ll certainly show you some excerpts. Through interviews with ex-students of Navarra I try to find out what his influence was mainly in Belgium, but also in other countries. Navarra was a strong and energetic man who produced a really big sound. His playing was very clear and articulated, but of course he also had genuine lyrical qualities. This we can enjoy through the many recordings he made. 

I hope to meet you in Porto and make you acquainted with this fascinating cellist, who had a big influence on modern cello technique!

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About the speaker

Mark Lambrecht, Cello

Studied Germanic Philology (Swedish and German) at the University of Ghent (1980-84) and then solfège, cello, music pedagogy and chamber music at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent (1984-90). Then he specialized in the interpretation of ancient music on baroque cello (Masterclasses with L. Scheifes, A. Bylsma / Premier Prix at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels with H. Suzuki, 1995).

 In the nineties he created new compositions of F. Agsteribbe and J. Van Weerst (recording). He recorded CD’s with the following baroque ensembles: ‘The Great Charm’, the ‘Orlandus ensemble’, the ‘Telemann Consort’, ‘Le Rondeau’, ‘Il Fondamento’, ‘Currende Consort’ and the ‘Ensemble européen William Byrd’. He plays cello continuo in the ‘Orlandus Ensemble’ at Ostend since 1999 and performs as a freelance cellist both baroque and chamber music. He plays a Gagliano copy baroque cello from Katrien Vandermeersch (Turnhout, 2017) and a French cello from the atelier J.B. Vuillaume (Paris, ca 1880). 

Since 1987 he works as a teacher of cello and chamber music at different music schools in Belgium (and in the Netherlands until 2007). His interest in music pedagogy also shows up in the refounding of the Belgian-Flemish ESTA branch. In 2002 he contacted Elspeth Iliff, the vice president of ESTA international. In 2003 he visited the international ESTA conference in Paris. In 2004 ESTA Belgium-Flanders was founded and Mark was the president until 2016. In 2010 together with the conference team he organized the international ESTA conference in Bruges. 

On the conference in Falun (Sweden, 2011) he became the vice president of ESTA International, working closely together with Maestro Bruno Giuranna. From 2011 until 2014 he represented ESTA as an external stakeholder in the Polifonia Project of the AEC Working Group 4, “Educating for Entrepreneurship”. He was the vice-president of ESTA International until November 2020. After this he became an honorary member of ESTA. 

He gave a lecture on Enrico Mainardi in Cremona (ESTA conference of 2007), Alexander Batta in Ljubljana (ESTA conference of 2016) and a masterclass baroque interpretation on the online ESTA conference of 2021.