Anyone familiar only with the beginning and end of Jean-Marie Leclair - born 1697 in Lyon as the son of a basket maker and murdered in October 1764 in his flat in a gloomy Parisian suburb - would never have thought that he was one of the greatest violinists of the 18th century. Leclair, who was appointed ordinaire de la musique du roi in the court orchestra of Louis XV after having begun his career as a dancer and ballet master, was considered the "Corelli of France" by his contemporaries - and not without reason.
The two volumes of duos for two violins without basso continuo stand out in his oeuvre, not least because of their unusual instrumentation. In them, Leclair introduces a new art of violin-playing "à deux", combining the impetuosity of Italian virtuosity with the elegance of French dance culture. The sonatas, in which the role of melody and accompaniment constantly alternates between the two violins, require supreme technical sovereignty on the part of the instrumentalists. Successions of double-stops and chords occasionally pile up to become veritable mountains; at times, entire series of notes in staccato are to be played within a single stroke of the bow. Two proven baroque specialists, Florian Deuter and Mónica Waisman, have accepted the challenges posed by this highly virtuosic and variegated music. In their view, Opus 12 makes the first collection Opus 3 appear almost simple – but in their playing, one never notices the breakneck technical requirements at any time.