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FL 2 3021

Fauré, Leclair, Debussy: French Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Release date August 17, 1995
Album code FL 2 3021

Album information

Fauré: Sonata No. 1, in A major, Op. 13

Of Fauré’s two sonatas for violin and piano, the first, written in 1876 when the composer was 31, remains one of his most popular works, and deservedly so, for its charming and individual character is immediately captivating. It is his first chamber music work and is an important landmark in the history of French chamber music. It is considered by many as one of the first major works for violin and piano written in France and even in Europe during the second half of the 19th century, with the possible exception of Robert Schumann’s two completed sonatas. It came ten years before Franck’s celebrated sonata and three years before Brahms’ first sonata.

Fauré’s first sonata was premiered in 1877 at a concert of the Société nationale de musi-que in Paris. It is dedicated to the French violinist Paul Viardot.

Leclair: Sonata Op. 9, No. 3, in D major

Born in Lyon in a family of lace-makers, Jean-Marie Leclair was one of six children who took up music as a career. Jean-Marie,who was to become the most famous of the children, both as a violinist and as a composer, is reputed to have begun his career as a dancer. In 1722, he was in Turin where he began to study the violin. Six years later, he was in Paris, quickly establishing himself as a leading violinist and composer. He also travelled to Holland, where he studied with Locatelli. The output of Leclair consits mainly of sonatas and concertos for the violin. He assimilated the styles of Vivaldi and Corelli; his music, nevertheless, shows a strong personal character.

Debussy: Sonata in G minor

Debussy was extremely distressed with the outbreak of the 1914 war, and this was compounded by his intense dislike of the Germans and the knowledge that his own sickness, cancer, was surely fatal. In the summer of 1915, however, he took his family to the sea, and there managed to sketch what was projected as Six sonates pour instruments divers, par Claude Debussy, musicien français (Six sonatas for various instruments, by Claude Debussy, French musician). The Sonata for violin and piano (the third of the projected six) was completed in 1917 and is dedicated to the composer’s wife, Emma. It is Debussy’s last completed work. The composer was at the piano when the work was first performed in Paris on May 5th, 1917, by the violinist Gaston Poulet. It was Debussy’s last public appearance before his death on March 26th the following year.

The irregularity of the sonata’s style and structure might have led the composer to call it a fantasia rather than a sonata. It is written with finesse, clarity and the poised, balanced and idiomatic play of instruments expected of a Debussy.

© Gilles Potvin

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Angèle Dubeau
AN 2 9540 J.S. Bach – Cantata BWV 21
AN 2 9540 J.S. Bach – Cantata BWV 21
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