I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Holloway - Jean Marie Leclair

John Holloway performs sonatas for violin by Jean-Marie Leclair with Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Jaap ter Linden. I've become a fan of late of the music of Leclair, a French composer most famous for being murdered. His music took on a rather continental style. He published a number of sonatas for his instrument, the violin, plus a number of violin concertos, some of which, are quite challenging. This is the sixth installment by Holloway on ECM New Series, one he has steadfastly done with Lars Ulrik Mortensen. He previously had Mr. Mortensen perform on harpsichord simultaneously with his wife on organ. If memory serves correct, this is the second album since she passed; the last one of Veracini was also with the same continuo team. A reviewer on Amazon described Holloway's tone as "smoky," and that term somehow fits. (Describing the tone of a violin requires quite an exercise in creativity, not unlike trying to describe the flavors one encounters in a glass of wine.) I never thought his violin's sound was his best trait. There are moments of spirit in this recording, such as track 18, an allegro movement from the B-flat sonata. As usual, Holloway plays with excellent intonation and then my usual criticisms creep in: at times the tempi are not quite energetic enough--you get the sense that the tempo chosen is good, but not perfect... great for rehearsing, but in a live performance, folks might just push it a little further? Tracks like #19, from the same B-flat sonata, just fall flat, short of boring. Neither performer in the 3-man ensemble takes the liberty to adjust dynamics terribly much, and I simply don't read a terribly deep emotional deposit in the performance. A better example of what the trio is capable of is in track #10, an allegro from the sonata in A major. Dynamic shading is "in the house," and the tempo is lock-on appropriate. It isn't Leclair's best writing, but it's well played. I have found the readings of Leclair sonatas by François Fernandez and Patrick Bismuth are ultimately more musically satisfying. Where I didn't care for the overly "wet" acoustic in Holloway's solo Bach, the recording this time around is far more complimentary to the musicians. I'd simply love the recording more if it had a darkness at appropriate moments, one which Andrew Manze managed to find in his reading of Frenchman Jean-Féry Rebel. If you've been a fan of the other Holloway recordings on ECM (or elsewhere before his association with the label), you might just then like this recording. I'd start first with the others mentioned. Like the Veracini album before it, this one simply comes up a tad short on energy and spirit in all the right places.

Jean-Marie Leclair: Sonatas

John Holloway on the Sonatas and Partitas