Sonatas for Two Violins, Volume 1 features violinists Barnabas Kelemen and Katalin Kokas performing the music of Jean-Marie Leclair on period violins from 1698 and 1742. Hunnia Records calls the album “A Tribute to the Murdered Genius”.
This is a Stereo 384kHz very high bit rate PCM recording made at the Holy Trinity Church in Velemér, Őrség, Hungary on June 7-14, 2020 using the Hapi Analog to Digital Converter from Merging Technologies. The album was produced by Zsuzsa Dvorak (recording) and Robert Zoltan Hunka (album). It is available in Stereo DSD (up to DSD 512) and DXD.
Violinists Barnabas Kelemen and Katalin Kokas, a husband and wife duo, share some of their thoughts about this unique album:
Katalin Kokas: Leclair was a French violinist but worked as a dance master for a long time in Italy as well. In his waistcoat pocket, he always carried a small violin, which he took out when he wanted to show the music and the rhythm to his dancers. He started playing the violin seriously when he was around 18. Still, he became one of the greatest violin virtuosos of his age and established the French violin school. And we feel his virtuosity very much because we must play some extremely complicated parts. He is the only composer who was murdered. His wife was said to be involved in the case. We play from her manuscript – from its replica, to be more precise. Her handwriting is exciting for us.
Barnabás Kelemen: Since we are husband and wife as well, it’s a weird thing to know that she might have murdered her husband and that the murder was motivated by jealousy. Or she had him murdered by someone else. The composer had an affair with the gardener and his wife was not too happy about this. Leclair’s body was found in the garden with his belongings around him, the whole thing seemed like the outcome of a ritual. This is how poor Leclair’s life ended.
Katalin Kokas: Considering our instruments, we found a solution which is a compromise in a way, but we like it very much. For the bottom three strings of our ‘modernized’ violins we use gut strings with silver spinning. By the early 18th century such strings had already been in use. And our instruments and our ears appreciated the 437 Hz tuning the most.
Barnabás Kelemen: In addition to the gut strings, the bow is also important. Compared to today’s bows, we must form the sounds with it in a very different way, and in many aspects, it works differently as well. Kati has a replica of a 17th century Baroque bow, I have one from the early 18th century, so these bows fully match what was used back then.
Katalin Kokas: This church in Velemér was built five centuries before Leclair’s birth, so his sonatas would have been like science fiction at the time of the construction of the church.
Violin: Joseph Guarnerius ‘del Gesu’, Cremona 1742
(Hungarian state collection)
Bow: copy of an early 18th Century bow
made by László Lakatos – Budapest
Violin: Carlo Giuseppe Testore, Milano 1698
(Hungarian state collection)
Bow: copy of a 17th century Baroque bow
made by Basil de Visser – Amsterdam
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:14:43
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||September 25, 2020|
French composer Jean-Marie Leclair (1697 – 1764) is not regarded as one of the greatest masters by later generations, and this is such a shame. It is quite possible because one needs to actually HEAR his music performed by musicians with a great passion for what he has composed… But when Leclair’s music gets interpreted by such such outstanding violinists as Katalin Kokas and Barnabás Kelemen, it comes to life with a complexity and beauty that is a joy to hear.
And thus our ears are treated to a very special sound. Lower in pitch due to the 437Hz tuning; more textured and resonate in timbre. It brings a different life to the music.
Kelemen and Kokas give us lively, energetic performances, filled with variety. Can two volumes of music for violin duo become overwhelming? Hmmm, yes, a bit. So I take my enjoyment of these works in parts. Two or three sonatas at a time. Thus, I can concentrate on what each has to say. And each, heard this way, is indeed different. Each has a different voice and a different message to share. All are delightful. And supremely well played.
The music is pleasing. The performances are fresh, lively and alert. The sonics are excellent. Certainly recommended.
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