Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Fabio Biondi Performs Leclair with Clarity

In a recent interview, Fabio Biondi said, "the music is first, the composer is first – and then we [the musicians] follow." That artistic stance makes this new release of Leclair concertos such a treasure.

Jean-Marie Leclair was a virtuoso violinist credited with founding the French violin school. Like many performers, he wrote music primarily for himself to play in public. These works give us an idea of his technical abilities.

Leclair also left extensive notes and instructional materials behind, so we also have a good idea of his preferences for phrasing and articulation.

Fabio Biondi is the soloist for this selection of Leclair concertos. And by placing the composer/performer first, Biondi gives us an idea of Leclair's extraordinary talent, and how it could generate an entire school of playing.

Biondi plays with a light touch, with his bow fairly dancing across the strings. At the same time, each note is articulated with precision. Leclair's music is expressive, but it's tempered by subtlety and refinement -- especially as played by Biondi.

Leclair's concertos are models of French Baroque balance and form. The Europa Galante performs them with a warm, measured sound. The ensemble plays elegantly without sounding restrained.

Of course, we can never know for certain what Leclair actually sounded like. But I can't help but think these clean, attractive performances come very close.

Jean-Marie Leclair: Violin Concertos
Op. 7, Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5
Europa Galante
Fabio Biondi, solo violin and director
Glossa GCD 923407

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