Leclair: Overtures and Trio Sonatas, Op. 13

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COMPOSERS: Leclair
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Overtures and Trio Sonatas, Op. 13
PERFORMER: Purcell Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0542 DDD
Op. 13 was the last work published by Leclair before his murder in 1764. The leading pioneer of French violin music, he began his career as a dancer at the Lyons opera and the elegance instilled by this training remained central to his music. When he was later attracted by the technical brilliance of the Italian violin school, his compositions developed into exquisite blends of French charm and Italian brio.

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His mastery of both styles is evident in Op. 13, whose three ouvertures begin in characteristically French fashion – a courtly introduction followed by a fugal movement – while their companion sonates en trio adhere to the Italian slow-fast-slow-fast pattern. All six compositions are arrangements of earlier Leclair pieces, the third overture deriving from his only opera Scylla et Glaucus. Its dramatic opening and scintillating second Allegro arrest the ear, and all three overtures have sweetly yearning slow movements. The third sonata is very attractive too, its Gratioso featuring the two violins in unaccompanied dialogue.

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The Purcell Quartet specialise in Baroque chamber music. They mesh together beautifully here and the closely entwined violin parts allow Catherine Mackintosh and her new partner Catherine Weiss to display their rapport to winning effect. Graham Lock