Leclair: Sonatas, Op. 9/2, 3, 6 & 7

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COMPOSERS: Leclair
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Sonatas, Op. 9/2, 3, 6 & 7
PERFORMER: Convivium
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67068
Convivium’s latest disc of Leclair violin sonatas colourfully rediscovers the music of this intriguing composer. Leclair’s experiences as a professional dancer and lacemaker before developing a flourishing career as a violin virtuoso and composer evidently informed his musical composition.

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The relatively conservative style of the E minor (No. 2) and G major (No. 7) sonatas betray Leclair’s response to the flute’s popularity (for which alternatives exist). Convivium play these pieces with idiomatic courtly elegance, Elizabeth Wallfisch’s beautifully shaded tonal values unfolding each phrase with a satisfying feel for natural weight. Subtle inflections animate the opening movements, while the minuet in No. 2 and the aria in no.7 gently dance with delicate choreographic placement. The violin’s agile athleticism in the final movements bring both sonatas to an impressive close.

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The two D major sonatas (Nos 3 and 6) allow Wallfisch full rein to explore her instrument’s technical capabilities. Multiple stoppings and overtly brilliant display betray the influences of Leclair’s Italian contemporaries, skilfully translated into French character. Convivium’s stylish articulation of this music’s filigree ornamentation highlights Leclair’s artistry in musical embroidery and their elan in the last work’s arresting orchestrally rich textures complete this fascinating portrait of the composer’s musical personality. Nicholas Rast