This first volume of Jean-Marie LeClair violin concertos features four selections: two each from his Opus 7 (1739) and Opus 10 (1743).
LeClair was one of the greatest violinists of his age. He regularly used extended techniques, such as double stops, bariolages, and harmonics. And yet in his concertos, these techniques were always used in service of the music.
Violinist Leila Schayegh and her ensemble outline their philosophical approach to the music in the liner notes. And it translates well into the recordings. Schayegh plays with technical mastery, tempered by musical restraint. What’s important isn’t the thrilling runs — it’s the melodic arcs they describe.
The two Op. 7 concertos were written while LeClair was in service to the Princess of Orange. The liner notes say LeClair was exposed to Locatelli while serving at her court. His Opus 10 works, written upon his return to Paris, reflect that influence.
I did hear some similarities, but I also didn’t hear many differences between the four concertos. All four, to me, are models of French Baroque artistry. They have an elegance to them, with simple, clearcut melodies that lend themselves to embellishment.
La Cetra Barockorchestra Basel (as well as Schayegh) use gut strings. And yet the recorded sound of the ensemble seemed bright. All in all, an interesting start to this series. Perhaps volume two will present the second and sixth concertos from two other opuses.
Jean-Marie LeClair: Concerti per Violino, Vol. 1
Op. 7 & 10 – Nos. 2 & 6
Leila Schayegh, violin
La Cetra Barockorchester Basel