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Jean Xavier LEFÈVRE (1763-1829)
Sonatas for harp and clarinet
Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in B flat major [7:17]
Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in G minor [9:15]
Clarinet Sonata No. 3 in F major [7:36]
Clarinet Sonata No. 4 in E flat major [8:57]
Clarinet Sonata No. 5 in C minor [9:21]
Clarinet Sonata No. 7 in G minor [9:44]
Rachel Talitman (harp)
Olivier Dartevelle (clarinet)
No recording details supplied
HARP & COMPANY CD5050-32 [52:10]

Clarinettist Lefèvre was born in Lausanne but moved early in his life to Paris. There he rose to some celebrity both as composer and executant. He played in the French Guards band and continued in that ensemble after the Revolution. In fact, he became its deputy conductor. He wrote six clarinet concertos, concertante works for clarinet and bassoon as well as various chamber pieces. He stands as a French composer rather a Swiss one.

The present sonatas, very much for clarinet, are for the unusual pairing of harp and clarinet; we would not blink if they were laid out for clarinet and piano. The clarinet is the melody instrument and takes the lead to a placidly subservient, even appeasing, harp. Their comely and dancing Mozartean ways are familiar and comforting - shallow in their way and gently stirring the emotions without turbulence. Their suave bel canto currency is counted and spent in comfort and personable dialogue.

We are treated to six of Lefèvre's twelve three-movement sonatas; I wonder why the Sixth Sonata was skipped. In their original form the sonatas were for clarinet and cello. Olivier Dartevelle (clarinet) and Harp & Co core player Rachel Talitman (harp) lead us with a gentle grip through these charmers. More than background music but less than masterworks, these eighteen tracks are more in the nature of cassations or serenades.

This unassuming fare is delightfully and amicably played and recorded. Just do not expect extreme depths of emotion or originality. That is not Lefèvre's way but he certainly knew his business when it came to a range of expression where such extremes as there are never transgress companionable innocence. As a verbal complement, there's an extensive background note in English and French. The recording is clear and warm - a good match for music that endears rather than compels.

Rob Barnett



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