Personalities | Jean-Marie Leclair | Late Baroque | Classical
(Zhan Mar-re Le-klâr) 1697–1764
French composer and violinist
Born in Lyons, Leclair came from a family of musicians. He studied the violin in Italy under Giovanni Battista Somis (1686–1763). By the 1720s he was establishing a reputation as a violinist in Paris. In 1728 he made his debut at the Concert Spirituel, playing his own sonatas and concertos. In 1733 Louis XV appointed him Ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du Roi (‘member of the king’s musicians’). His sonatas and concertos, most of which are for violin, contain a pleasing juxtaposition of French and Italian styles and are, both technically and formally, among the most advanced by a French composer of the time.
Ouvertures, Trio Sonatas, Purcell Quartet (Chandos)
Concerto in E Minor
In his sets of violin concertos Leclair produced the finest Baroque concertos by a Frenchman. His blend of Italian virtuosity with the simpler, often dance-orientated character of his native airs resulted in music of galant charm and distinction. The Concerto in E Minor (op. 10, no. 5) provides a sustained example of his expressive gift.
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