Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764), like many of his French contemporaries, became enamored of the Italian style of playing and writing best exemplified by the work of Archangelo Corelli. With its emphasis on florid technique and intriguing harmonies, the Italian model was also responsible for giving the violin a more prominent role in French music than it had held previously. Leclair’s writing for the violin is particularly idiomatic and exciting. Some of these talents are exhibited in a well-chosen selection from his oeuvre, superbly recorded by the Canadian early music ensemble Arion and its soloists, violinist Monica Huggett and flautist Claire Guimond. Leclair’s musical charms are revealed to their fullest on three of this album’s four concerti, seducing the listener with gorgeous, hummable melodies and virtuoso passages filled with exciting, danceable rhythms. Baroque flute specialist Guimond shows another side of Leclair in a typically tuneful flute concerto, albeit not as exciting as the violin selections.
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