Leclair: Violin Concertos

Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi
Glossa GCD 923407
op. 7 nos 1, 3, 4 & 5

Much as I was fascinated to hear Italians playing Fasch’s music, it has been very interesting hearing them tackle Leclair’s concertos. Of course, his violinistic family tree leads directly back to Corelli, and thus his music, though infused with Gallic harmonies and ornamentation, has a strong Italian heritage. Biondi and his colleagues have chosen four works from the first published set, op. 7 of c. 1737. It is often said that one cannot avoid sub-consciously comparing “new” versions and I must simply confess that I was guilty of hearing things that “weren’t quite the way Simon Standage” played them; whether or not that is a good thing, the older Chandos recordings come out on top (despite Biondi’s virtuosity and the vitality of his colleagues’ brilliant accompaniments) for one principal reason – too often I felt that the tempo was pulled about too much, presumably with the aim of making the music seem more dramatic than I personally feel it needs. Don’t misunderstand me – rubato definitely has its place in Baroque music; there is a great deal to admire in these performances and recordings, but I feel the pudding has been over-egged a little.

Brian Clark