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.

Jean-Marie Leclair: Sonatas

#alttext# La Tempesta (Patrick Bismuth) records the fourth book of sonatas by Leclair. As I wrote earlier, I'm a fan of Leclair's style and the richness, too, of some of his works. While my reception to the CD by John Holloway was fair, I have a far more enthusiastic reaction to that of Mr. Bismuth. First, this recording was difficult to procure. I had to purchase it in France. It's a 3-CD set, actually, and is well-recorded. There's a very distinct separation of the channels, with the violin on the right. Both Bismuth and his ensemble (but especially him) are not just playing the music: they're living it through an interpretation that both highlights the virtuosity of the music and the emotional depth within. A lot of music doesn't exactly ooze emotion, you have to find it. You project, pull, and highlight those elements which especially speak to the listener. Much like the gestures we use in voice, the simple combination of soloist against continuo requires the performers to sometimes independently, but also sometimes collectively infuse their "reaction" of the music. It comes, perhaps, with practice... knowing what the lines and harmony are doing, or what's coming up, and how to project that. Bismuth is doing an excellent job in this recording finding what makes each movement special. One of his more expressive gestures is the use (or absence) of vibrato. It plays deeply into his "sound," but can also add a dramatic richness to his timbre. His instrument I feel is thin sounding (on account of the strings) but has a very nice sound. At times, when vibrato is applied, it's sweet; other times it's penetrating and rustic. It's weakest in the lower register, but sings and sparkles with the higher notes. A variety of continuo is used, usually with a combination of instruments, including cello, bass lute, and organ. As with many collections like this, I like the variety of continuo. All together this is a strong set, full of many ideas penned by Leclair. You probably wouldn't want to listen to the entire collection from cover to cover, on account to the stylistic similarities and the strength of the dramatic performances. Under La Tempesta, you long to savor each work on its own. I should add that one sonata is performed on flute. Leclair listed it as an alternate soloists. This collection, perhaps than others collectively by Leclair, speaks to his strengths as a composer-violinist. The performers here match the call with variety of expressive means that excite the listener and showcase the music's appeal with a variety of invention and showy virtuosity. Recommended to all fans of baroque violin repertoire.

Pierre Hantaï performs Bach's Le Clavier bien tempéré

Holloway - Jean Marie Leclair