MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697 - 1764)
Violin Sonatas, Book 1: Nos. 1-4:-
Sonata in C, op. 1,2 [15:04]
Sonata in B flat, op. 1,3 [14:15]
Sonata in a minor, op. 1,1 [18:52]
Sonata in D, op. 1,4 [16:04]
Adrian Butterfield (violin), Alison McGillivray (viola da gamba), Laurence Cummings (harpsichord)
rec. 3-5, 8-10 January 2008, St Mary's Church, Walthamstow, London, UK. DDD
NAXOS 8.570888 [64:15]

CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697 - 1764)
Violin Sonatas, Book 1: Nos. 5-8
Sonata in A, op. 1,5 [09:17]
Sonata in e minor, op. 1,6 [14:02]
Sonata in F, op. 1,7 [14:52]
Sonata in G, op. 1,8 [17:02]
Adrian Butterfield (violin), Alison McGillivray (viola da gamba), Laurence Cummings (harpsichord)
rec. 3-5, 8-10 January 2008, St Mary's Church, Walthamstow, London, UK. DDD
NAXOS 8.570889 [55:14]

CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697 - 1764)
Violin Sonatas, Book 1: Nos. 9-12
Sonata in B flat, op. 1,11 [12:44]
Sonata in D, op. 1,10 [13:17]
Sonata in b minor, op. 1,12 [14:42]
Sonata in A, op. 1,9 [16:54]
Adrian Butterfield (violin), Alison McGillivray (viola da gamba), Laurence Cummings (harpsichord)
rec. 3-5, 8-10 January 2008, St Mary's Church, Walthamstow, London, UK. DDD
NAXOS 8.570890 [57:37]

Experience Classicsonline

Jean-Marie Leclair was one of the great virtuosos of the violin in the history of music. He had a high reputation and travelled through Europe as a performer. Born at a time when the Italian style was fully established in France, he was one of the representatives of the ideal of the goûts réunis, the mixture of French and Italian elements. In his sonatas for violin and basso continuo the influence of in particular Arcangelo Corelli is indisputable.
Leclair composed four books of sonatas for violin and basso continuo. The third and fourth books are technically more demanding than the first two – a result of his studies in Italy. Adrian Butterfield, in his programme notes, regrets the "almost complete neglect of his first two books by violinists". But it isn't as bad as he suggests. In fact, Leclair is pretty well represented on disc. Sonatas from all four books have been recorded, and in my collection I have several discs with sonatas from the books 1 and 2, by François Fernandez, Jaap Schröder and Fabio Biondi. But it is true that - as far as I know - no complete recording of the first book existed. And Butterfield is also right when he states that these sonatas "contain such a marvellous synthesis of Italian lyricism and French elegance".
It is notable that Leclair's sonatas are idiomatic, meaning that they are specifically written for violin and explore the technical possibilities of the instrument. For two sonatas Leclair suggests the transverse flute as an alternative. In the Sonata No. 2 he provides some different material for the flute in the last movement and in Sonata No. 6 the material is the same. But in both cases he avoids any double-stopping.
The influence of Corelli is notable in the structure: nine of them are in four movements, following the pattern of the Italian sonata da chiesa and sonata da camera, the Sonatas Nos. 5 and 11 are in three movements and Sonata No. 4 has five movements.
These sonatas show an amazing amount of variety. There are a number of movements with frequent double-stopping, some movements are quite theatrical, whereas others are written in truly cantabile style. In contrast to Corelli Leclair seldom makes use of the fugue: the only two fugues appear in the last sonata of the set. Two movements are based on an ostinato bass: the andante from Sonata No. 4 and the sarabanda from Sonata No. 9. The latter movement is a set of variations.
Notable is the absence of the kind of character piece which was quite popular among French composers of his time - as in the Pièces de clavecin en concert by Rameau. But Leclair is not afraid to include some folkloristic elements, something which one won't find in Corelli.
Adrian Butterfield has grasped the character of Leclair's sonatas very well. He plays them with panache and shows a good feeling for the various features of these compositions. In general the articulation and the dynamic shading are satisfying, and much attention has been paid to the rhythmic pulse. Many movements really come off like dance music. This is also due to the excellent support of Alison McGillivray and Laurence Cummings. I would have liked the former's viola da gamba to have a bit more presence, though. Too often it isn't as clearly audible as it should be.
One sonata I compared with the recording by François Fernandez, and I think he is more subtle in his phrasing and articulation; his performance is more speech-like. Sometimes I felt Butterfield's performance is a bit too showy, with too much emphasis on the spectacular elements of Leclair's sonatas. But this could well be a matter of taste. It doesn't prevent me from recommending this set, which testifies to Leclair's greatness as a composer and as a performer. In particular lovers of music for violin will enjoy these three discs.
Johan van Veen

NAXOS 8.570888/89 was also reviewed by Brian Wilson



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.