Leclair: Violin Sonatas, Book IV

Leclair: Sonates pour violon & basse continue, Livre IV
François Fernandez / Pierre Hantaï / Philippe Pierlot
Astrée 8586


    Sonate II en mi mineur
  1. Andante
  2. Allemanda: Allegro ma non tropo
  3. Sarabanda: Adagio
  4. Minuetto: Allegro non tropo

  5. Sonate VIII en do majeur
  6. Andante ma non tropo
  7. Allegro assai
  8. Andante
  9. Tempo di Ciaccona

  10. Sonate XI en sol mineur
  11. Largo
  12. Corente: Allegro ma non tropo
  13. Aria gratioso: Andante
  14. Tempo gavotta: Allegro

  15. Sonate VI en ré majeur
  16. Allegro
  17. Adagio
  18. Tempo gavotta: Allegro ma non tropo
  19. Giga prestissimo

Performers: François Fernandez (violin), Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord), Philippe Pierlot (viol)

Playing time: 68'

Recording date: March 1996 (Switzerland)

Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) was the most important French Baroque composer of violin music. Although he was a violinist of high stature, and although his career is linked with the virtuoso Locatelli, Leclair deliberately took up a style in opposition to pure virtuosity. His music has a serious air and rigor, and was to be played without ornament. Of course, some of the technique is perilously difficult nonetheless.

The violin caught on only slowly in France, retaining associations to both ballet and Italy, but with Leclair it is clearly fully freed from such constraints. His compositions are almost entirely for violin, including the sonatas as well as sonatas for two violins and concertos. Leclair was apparently a very "difficult" man, and so his career is marked by sudden resignations and strange choices. Perhaps this explains the combination of virtuosity and austerity present in his music.

Leclair's fourth and final book of violin sonatas was published in Paris in 1738. It represents the final deepening of his technique, eschewing virtuosity for its own sake.

The other Leclair program by these performers:

Leclair: Sonates pour violon & basse continue, Livre I
François Fernandez / Pierre Hantaï / Philippe Pierlot
Astrée 8662

A sampling of the large violin sonata discography:

Leclair: Violin Sonatas
Trio Sonnerie
AS&V Gaudeamus 106
Leclair: Sonatas - I
Hyperion 67033
Leclair: Violin Sonatas
Biondi / Alessandrini / Naddeo / Monteilhet
Arcana 39
Leclair: Sonates à Violon seul
Ryo Terakado et al.
Denon "Aliare" 75720
Leclair: Violin Sonatas - Vol. 1
w/ Forqueray, Mondonville, Duphly, Guillemain
Simon Standage / Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Chandos Chaconne 0531
Leclair: Overtures & Trio Sonatas
Les Talens Lyriques - Christophe Rousset
Virgin Veritas 61677

A recording devoted to trio sonatas, i.e. two equal top violin parts:

Leclair: Sonates en trio, Op. 4
London Baroque - Charles Medlam
Harmonia Mundi 901617

And some recordings devoted to the violin concertos:

Leclair: Concertos
Monica Huggett / Claire Guimond / Arion Ensemble
Atma 2 2143
Leclair: Violin Concertos, Vol. 1
Daniel Cuiller / Ensemble Stradivaria
Accord 242552
Leclair: Violin Concertos, Vol. 1
Simon Standage / Collegium Musicum 90
Chandos Chaconne 0551

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Todd M. McComb