C1915. FRITZ RIEGER Cond. ORTF Orch.: Le Roi Lear - Overture (Berlioz); Symphony #6 in A (1881 Version, Haas Ed. (Bruckner); w.GUNDULA JANOWITZ: Vier letzte Lieder (Strauss), Live Performance, 3 March, 1971, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées; FRITZ RIEGER Cond. Münchner Phil., w.ANDRE NAVARRA: Cello Concerto in e (Elgar), Live Performance, 1956, Hercules Hall, München. [If for no other reason, and there are several, the heavenly Janowitz performance is one for the ages!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1180. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Andre Navarra, the distinguished cellist known for his versatility and scholarship, was a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris, having taught advanced music courses at Chigiana since 1954.
Navarra began his cello studies at the Toulouse Conservatory at the age of 9. At 15 he entered the National Academy of Music in Paris and a year later was awarded the institution’s highest prize. After winning the International Competition for Violincellists in Vienna, he began appearing with major orchestras in Europe, the Soviet Union, the Far East and Latin America. He also taught regularly in such disparate places as the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique in Paris and USC, where in 1983 he was one of three master teachers at the annual Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists.
Navarra performed and recorded a wide range of compositions. Throughout his career he was closely associated with Edward Elgar’s cello concerto, recording it as early as 1957.”
- LOS ANGELES TIMES, 3 Aug., 1988
"Strauss' Four Last Songs rank among the most haunting music ever written. Until recently, they were seen as constituting the composer's own requiem - a self-conscious farewell to existence, given loving expression by an idealised soprano voice and intended for performance after his death. But it is now accepted that Strauss, envisaging a performance in his lifetime, wrote the songs specifically for the great Wagnerian soprano Kirsten Flagstad.
Among the great Straussians of the 50s and 60s, we find versions by Ljuba Welitsch, Eleanor Steber, Lisa Della Casa and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Welitsch (Sony) opted for piano accompaniment, which sounds perverse. Steber (VAI) recorded the songs with James Levine and the Cleveland Orchestra in 1971 at the end of her career. Her voice suggests age rather than youth, and is very moving. Della Casa (Decca) with Karl Böhm conducting, is silver-toned and aristocratic. Schwarzkopf's recording with Georg Szell in 1966 is rightly regarded as a classic. [But] the greatest version remains the 1973 DG recording with Gundula Janowitz and Herbert von Karajan. [The above recording, under Rieger, is a stunning live performance from two years earlier.] Janowitz's singing possesses a genuinely transcendental radiance that is second to none."
- Andrew Clements, THE GUARDIAN, 14 Dec., 2001
“Rieger was born in Oberaltstadt, Karkonosze, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. From 1931 to 1938 he worked in Prague. In August 1941 he became director of the Bremen Opera, and in August 1944 he took up the position of director of the Bremen Philharmonic Orchestra. Rieger was a member of the Nazi party.
In 1949 Rieger was announced as the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra by the city government, replacing the modernist Hans Rosbaud who had been appointed by U.S. occupation authorities. According to author David Monod, the decision to release Rosbaud and replace him with the ‘young and relatively unknown but suitably conservative’ Rieger was caused by a desire to attract larger audiences with more traditional programs, a necessity in the wake of currency reform in the western part of Germany. In 1952, Rieger announced that the orchestra would eliminate almost all modern music from its concerts. Rieger continued to lead the Munich orchestra until 1966. Fritz Rieger was chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 1971 to 1972. He died in Bonn, Germany, on 20 September 1978.”