Leclair 6 Sonatas from Troisième livre de sonatas, Op 5
Leclair is becoming increasingly popular these days, and deservedly so. His chamber music is invariably strongly written and substantial in content, and it is the most conspicuous synthesis you are likely to encounter of the two great opposing styles of the baroque, with the clearly organized formal procedures and violinistic vigour of the Italians becoming wedded with no sense of unease to the accents and refinements of French melody. The six fine violin sonatas on this disc come from the third of his four sets of 12, published in 1734 when he was at the height of his career, having recently been appointed to a prestigious position at court. They include perhaps his best-known work, a powerful Sonata in C minor known as Le Tombeau, which was performed in an orchestral arrangement at his funeral some 30 years later.
Although there is a decidedly Japanese look to the line-up here, the recording was made in the gently resonant acoustic of the Luthersekerk in Haarlem and the three string players are all regulars of the early music scene in Belgium and Holland. Ryo Terakado is actually leader of Sigiswald Kuijken's orchestra La Petite Bande, and his playing shares many of the characteristics of their performances—intelligence and stylishness without overstatement or gratuitous quirkiness. In this he is well supported by his colleagues, with Christophe Rousset demonstrating what an uneffacing yet utterly solid continuo player he is, and Hidemi Suzuki's cello being thoughtfully substituted for Kaori Uemura's gamba in two of the sonatas (most appropriately so, too, in the case of the highly Italianate Sonata No. 8). Yet in the end, I found that much of this fine musicianship was undermined by Terakado's consistently suspect intonation. It's something that hits you right from the opening bars, and though you can get used to it after a time (and its prominence can partly be explained by a habitual economy of vibrato), it is an unfortunate state of affairs when it is this which lingers as one's abiding memory of the disc as a whole. There are things to enjoy here, but you have been warned.'