WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 2 In E minor; Violin Sonata No. 6 in D; Violin Sonata No. 8 In C; Violin Sonata No. 11 in G minor
PERFORMER: Frangois Fernandez (violin), Pierre Hanta’i (harpsichord), Philippe Pierlot (viola da gamba)
CATALOGUE NO: E 8586
Leclair reportedly played ‘like an angel’ and he sometimes wrote like one too. The leading light of French Baroque violin music, his work was a brilliant synthesis of French and Italian styles, characterised by its melodic charm, dazzling virtuosity and elegance of form. The Fourth Book of Sonatas, Op. 9, published in 1738, shows him at the height of his powers, imbued with a new seriousness and paring back all superfluities to create a music that is highly disciplined and rich in invention. Francois Fernandez plays these sonatas with masterful poise, respecting the music’s profound spirit yet conveying its fluency and liveliness of expression. His deft handling of the technically formidable Sonata No. 6 exemplifies Leclair’s belief that virtuosity should serve the music, while he treats the slow movements with eloquent sensitivity. I look forward to more Leclair recordings from this gifted young violinist.
Simon Standage has already given us four enjoyable Leclair discs, including a fine volume of chamber pieces. This new release is a little disappointing: Leclair’s trio sonatas Op. 6, written specifically for amateur violinists, and the posthumously published Op. 14, are amiable but extremely lightweight works. The sonata for two violins sans basse, Op. 3/6, is more engaging, though relatively brief. Graham Lock