《Violin Sonata in D Major, Op. 9, No. 3》

Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764)

Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu “Ole Bull”, Vi(1744)

Leclair was a French violinist, composer and dancing master. He laid the foundations for the development of the French school of violin playing, and made a significant contribution towards raising the standard of violin technique in France. His works include violin sonatas, concertos, chamber music and operas. Leclair’s violin sonatas represent a fusion of Corelli’s French style. His allegro movements retain the style of Vivaldi (1678-–-1741) , while his andante movements display a more pronounced French influence. Works by Leclair are characterized by a high level of difficult technique, in which double stops, third and fourth chords, double trills, and left-hand tremolo effects are frequently used. The piece features on this recording, the Violin Sonata No. 3 from Leclair’s Opus 9, was published in 1743. This elegant work, with its carefully crafted rhythm, is very expressive. In addition, this is the most popular and most frequently performed of Leclair’s 49 violin sonatas. While the structure of the piece follows the traditional sonata da chiesa form, with its slow-quick-slow-quick structure, the titles given to the last two movements are those of dance tunes. The first movement is designated “un poco andante”, and is a two-part song form in 2/2 time. It begins with a bright, lively rhythm and harmonious melody as the theme, before switching to a melancholy passage using triplets in a minor interval, and then switching back to the original theme at the close. The second movement is allegro, in 6/8 time, in a three-part song form. The violin plays a dance-like double-stop melody, before changing the melody with the double-voice part. The middle section switches from bright, cheerful major to melancholy minor; the final part then develops into a slow cadenza, before returning to the first theme at the end. The third movement is a slow, two-part Sarabande-Largo in 3/2 time. This simple and elegant dance uses a melody based on alternation every four bars, changing from dark and gloomy to bright and lively . To achieve its full effect, this movement requires careful interpretation by the performer. The fourth movement is an allegro Tembourin-Presto rondo in 2/4 time; the name reflects the bouncy, leaping nature of the music, like the sound of a tambourine. This movement flows smoothly and rapidly; the violin plays in a highly rhythmic double-stop technique which gives the final exquisite touch to the piece. The violin used in this recording is the “Ole Bull”, made by the Italian master violin-maker Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù (1698-–-1744) in 1744, and now in the collections of the Chi Mei Cluture Foundation. This is generally believed to be the last violin that Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù ever made; its magical, booming sound has made it a truly legendary instrument. The London firm of W.E. Hill & Sons described this violin as being the most distinctive of all the Guarneri violins.